UPDATE: Freedom Industries President Faces Criminal Charges for West Virginia Chemical Leak

The FBI has filed criminal charges against Freedom Industries President Gary Southern for allegedly making false statements regarding January’s chemical spill into the Elk River. The FBI’s complaint charges Southern with bankruptcy fraud, making a false oath in a bankruptcy proceeding, and wire fraud. According to the complaint, “Shortly after the leak and discharge of MCHM into the Elk River was discovered on January 9, 2014, Southern engaged in a pattern of deceitful behavior, which included numerous false and/or fraudulent statements about his role at Freedom, his role in the sale of Freedom to Chemstream, and his knowledge about conditions at the Etowah Facility.” If Southern is found guilty on all counts, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Approves Controversial Maryland Export Terminal

UPDATE (Oct. 3, 2014): On Sept. 29, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Dominion Resources $3.8 billion expansion of its Cove Point facility in Lusby, MD to allow for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the site.

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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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