GAO Report Finds Problems with EPA Groundwater Protection Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequately monitoring more than 172,000 wells used to enhance oil and gas drilling and dispose of drilling wastewater, according to a July 28 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report, based on two years of research, identified several significant problems with EPA's program to protect groundwater from drilling chemicals and wastes.

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Toxic Toledo Water: Cities Nationwide Face Similar Risks

On Aug. 2, the City of Toledo, Ohio issued a water use ban for roughly 500,000 residents after chemists detected toxic levels of microcystin in the public water supply. Microcystin is a toxin produced by harmful algal blooms caused by the overuse of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers. Large amounts of excess fertilizers run off into waterways during rainstorms. Exposure to microcystin can cause diarrhea, nausea, liver dysfunction, and nervous system damage. Beyond the public health risks, harmful algal blooms also negatively impact ecosystems and burden the economy.

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Quick Action Needed on Federal Rules to Reduce Oil Train Dangers

On Aug. 1, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published proposals in the Federal Register to address a recent string of accidents involving the shipment of crude oil by rail. Since 2010, there have been 10 major rail accidents in North Dakota, Alabama, and Virginia resulting in fireballs, major damage to the environment and, in the case of the Lac-Megantic, Quebec accident, the deaths of 47 people and destruction of a significant portion of a town.

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White House: Act Now or Pay More Later to Stem Climate Change

Acting now to address the impacts of climate change would produce far more benefits at a much lower cost than waiting until a later date, according to a new White House report, titled The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change. Based on a rigorous analysis of existing studies, the report estimates a 40 percent increase in the cost of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas linked to climate change, for every decade of delay.

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Obama’s Executive Order to Improve Chemical Facility Safety, One Year Later

One year ago today, President Obama issued Executive Order 13650, which directs federal agencies to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities. The order came in response to a string of chemical disasters, including the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that killed 15 people and injured more than 200.

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Report Finds Flaws in Small Business Advocacy Office

According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy has failed to develop and implement procedures necessary to ensure the office is effectively carrying out its mission of representing small businesses before federal agencies.  

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EPA Requests Public Comments on Chemical Safety Standards

On July 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a preview of its Request for Information (RFI) on revisions to its Risk Management Program, which tracks information and requires disaster prevention plans from potentially risky chemical facilities.

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Lifting the Ban on Crude Oil Exports Troubling in Light of Recent Rail Catastrophes

What do fracking, recent rail car explosions, and international trade have in common? A volatile light crude oil called "condensate."

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Protesters Urge Agency to Stop Fracked Gas Exports

On July 13, over 1,000 protestors marched from the U.S. Capitol to the doors of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). They urged the agency to reject a proposal to construct a liquefied natural gas export terminal in Lusby, Maryland, which is just 60 miles south of the White House.

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Senate Bill Would Ensure Negligent Corporate Officials Are Held Accountable

On July 16, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Hide No Harm Act. The legislation would require corporate officers to disclose to employees, federal officials, and the public information and warnings about serious dangers associated with product defects or unsafe work practices. Currently, criminal fines and imprisonment are rarely imposed on individual corporate executives who have knowingly concealed such crucial information, but this bill would ensure that those personally responsible for decisions leading to serious injuries or deaths are held criminally accountable.

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