Roundup: H2-B worker visas / Pipeline safety / Free Wi-Fi for NOLA

    Number to rise: President Joe Biden’s administration today announced an increase in the number of temporary seasonal workers who will be allowed to work in the U.S. this year as the economy recovers from the pandemic. The Department of Homeland Security said the U.S. would approve an additional 22,000 H2-B seasonal worker visas on top of the annual limit of 66,000 set by Congress. It cited increased demand from employers, with the number of people seeking jobless benefits at the lowest point since the outbreak of COVID-19. Read the full story. 

    Offshore risks: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which is in charge of offshore oil and gas environmental enforcement, doesn’t have a strong inspection program for working pipelines and doesn’t adequately make sure companies clean and bury those no longer in use, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. Although cleaning and pulling up unused pipelines is supposed to be the rule, federal regulators have allowed 97% of such pipelines to stay in place since the 1960s, resulting in 18,000 miles of abandoned pipelines on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Read the full story about the BSEE report

    Bridging gaps: The city of New Orleans is looking for a company that can bring free public Wi-Fi and “smart city” technologies to the Crescent City as officials seek to bridge gaps in internet access for some residents, Government Technology reports. City officials said Friday they are seeking bids from companies that can bring wireless internet access at no cost to taxpayers. The end goal is to help close digital deficits in neighborhoods that have little or no access to the Internet and to use smart city technologies to improve city services for residents. Read the full story.