Pitched Battle for GMO Labeling Continues

Update (07/24/2014): On July 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) withdrew its GMO disclosure rule, previously proposed in February 2013. The rule would have allowed the USDA to share information with state regulators about the flow of genetically engineered organisms into and out of a state. The USDA obtains information about farmers’ GMO use through registrations and permit applications

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UPDATE: Supreme Court Invalidates President’s Recess Appointees to NLRB

UPDATE (06/27/2014): On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in NLRB v. Noel Canning, unanimously affirming the D.C. Circuit’s invalidation of three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2012. However, the Court split 5-4 on its rationale for the decision.

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UPDATE: California Leads Nation on Limiting 'Erin Brockovich' Chemical in Drinking Water

UPDATE (6/12/2014): California has finalized its long-awaited standard limiting the permissible level of hexavalent chromium (sometimes called “chromium 6”) in drinking water. The standard was set at 10 parts per billion (ppb), equivalent to about five teaspoons of the toxic chemical in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Once the standard takes effect on July 1, California will be the first state to impose a limit on this harmful contaminant in drinking water, taking action even before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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DATA Act Becomes Law, Increased Transparency on Federal Spending to Follow

On May 9, President Obama quietly signed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) into law. Congress and open government advocates across the political spectrum worked for years to refine and pass the spending transparency legislation. The new law, if properly implemented, will be a big win for everyone.

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West Virginia Mine Deaths Highlight Need for Congressional Action on Mine Safety

Two miners were killed May 12 while working at Brody Mine No. 1 in West Virginia, a coal mine with a history of "significant and substantial" violations, according to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). While the cause of these two deaths remains under investigation, the incident is just the most recent example of the inadequacy of current mine safety and health programs that are intended to protect miners from on-the-job hazards. To correct these problems and prevent future disasters, MSHA must improve its oversight and enforcement of hazardous mining operations, and Congress must provide the agency the resources it needs to accomplish its important mission.

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U.S. Defense Spending in Eight Charts

This week, the House is expected to debate and vote on the 2015 Defense Appropriations Act. On May 7, the House Armed Services Committee unanimously approved $496 billion in discretionary spending and $79.4 billion in war operations spending for the budget that starts Oct. 1. We explore how this stacks up against the rest of the world, who benefits most from defense spending, and what these funding levels mean for other national priorities.

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What We Could Invest In if We Ended Special Corporate Tax Breaks

Services for American families have been under constant attack over the past several years. Head Start slots were cut, Meals on Wheels deliveries were curtailed, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been squeezed. House leaders have repeatedly insisted the country cannot afford such programs while continuing to push forward hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for corporations. What could we as a nation invest in if we ended these special tax favors?

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House Leader Calls for Investigation into ALEC Efforts to Undermine National Safeguards

On April 16, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, sent a letter to the Department of the Interior requesting an investigation into the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) state-level efforts to push legislation that could undermine federal land management policies and directives.

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E-Gov Spotlight: Safercar.gov Informs the Public about Vehicle Safety Risks

Vehicle safety is a significant concern for many Americans. As the ongoing General Motors recall has shown, problems with automotive parts can adversely affect millions of people. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the federal agency that sets safety standards for motor vehicles and investigates defects. To keep customers informed, NHTSA's Safercar.gov provides a portal to information about potential problems with cars and automotive equipment.

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Expected Budget Cuts Prompt EPA to Reduce Performance Targets in Five-Year Strategic Plan

Just over one year ago, a fertilizer facility in West, TX exploded, killing 15 people and injuring hundreds more. In January, approximately 10,000 gallons of toxic chemicals leaked from a storage tank at a Freedom Industries facility in Charleston, WV into the Elk River, contaminating the drinking water supply of over 300,000 nearby residents. And in February, thousands of gallons of coal ash spilled from unlined ponds at Duke Energy's coal plant into the Dan River in North Carolina. More environmental incidents like these are happening regularly, risking the public's health and the environment. We need stronger national standards for toxic chemicals and hazardous waste, and these standards need to be enforced. But the federal agency charged with issuing and enforcing national environmental standards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been subjected to significant budget cuts over the past several years that have restricted its ability to carry out its mission.

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