States Work to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of Children's Products

New York's Child Safe Products Act failed to make it to the state Senate floor prior to the end of the legislative session last Friday, despite being passed by the New York State Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill would have better protected children by tightening standards on toxic chemicals used in kids' products, from car seats to toys to clothes. New York is one of several states seeking to create stronger chemical safeguards than currently exist at the federal level.

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Supreme Court Confirms EPA Ability to Regulate Greenhouse Gases

On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision upholding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to require large industrial sources to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The 7-2 decision represents a major victory for EPA’s efforts to combat climate change.

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FDA’s Misguided Concept of “Lost Pleasure” in Tobacco Regulation

In April 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rule that would expand the term “tobacco products” to include e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and other novel tobacco products. This rule will allow the FDA to regulate these products under its current authority to regulate tobacco products.

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Yet Another House Bill Would Limit EPA’s Ability to Protect the Public and Environment

On June 24, the House Science Committee will meet to review the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (H.R. 4012), a bill that seeks to stifle the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to protect the public and environment from harm, even when there is overwhelming scientific evidence to support agency action. 

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Massive Fracking on Federal Lands Overwhelms Critical Inspections

Forty percent of the highest-risk oil and gas wells drilled on federal lands over the past several years have gone uninspected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), according to a recent Associated Press (AP) analysis. The massive boom in oil and gas drilling on federal and tribal lands, primarily using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques, has resulted in a one-third increase in oil and gas wells since 2007, with a total of more than 100,000 wells.

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Illinois Bans Microbeads in Consumer Products; Congressman Introduces National Legislation

Illinois has become the first state to ban the manufacture and sale of consumer products containing synthetic plastic microbeads, frequently found in facial scrubs, body washes, and cosmetics. The state passed the ban to address an increasing water pollution problem in Lake Michigan and other waterways across Illinois.

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2014 OMB Report Shows Substantial Public Protection Benefits Achieved at Low Cost

With little fanfare late last month, the Office of Management and Budget released its 2014 draft annual report to Congress on the costs and benefits of regulations. The report, required under the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act, summarizes the benefits and costs of major federal rules – those anticipated to have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more and subject to review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at OMB – for the 2013 fiscal year, as well as for the previous decade. The report finds that once again, the nation achieved significant health, safety, environmental, and other benefits at a relatively low cost.

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Chemical Safety Report Opens Door for Improvements, but Strong Requirements Still Needed

On June 6, the interagency working group that President Obama formed in the wake of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion released its report to the president, conveying its recommendations for improving chemical facility safety and security. The report outlines many of the significant problems facing chemical facility safety in this country, including limited information sharing, incomplete and incompatible regulations, and the need for greater use of safer technologies. The recommendations on these problems point in the right direction but leave the details to the individual agencies to resolve as they move forward on possible regulations and policy changes.

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UPDATE: Energy Department Revises Policy for Approving Natural Gas Exports

Update (06/04/2014): The Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed revisions to how it reviews applications to export liquefied natural gas to non-free trade agreement countries.

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EPA Proposes Limits on Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Existing Power Plants

On June 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its long-awaited proposal to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

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