Breathing Easier Because of the Clean Air Act

Today is the birthday of the Clean Air Act, legislation signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon forty-four years ago. This law is the centerpiece and platform for protecting the quality of the air we breathe. It took decades of work to get clean air laws passed, and over time amendments have been added to strengthen our air quality standards and to respond to new risks. This is the story of how we established standards to protect a public good that we all need, but most of us take for granted.

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Unwrapping Cadmium? Parents Worry About Toxic Toys

Only two more shopping days before Christmas. Parents have enough to worry about between trying to find the hottest toys, watching their budgets, and fighting store crowds. They shouldn’t have to worry about whether they are exposing their children to toxins, but the absence of strong federal standards means they do.

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Derailed Rules: North Dakota's New Oil-by-Rail Standard Doesn’t Address Causes of Recent Catastrophes

On Dec. 9, North Dakota announced a new rule for rail shipments of highly volatile crude oil from the Bakken shale formation. The standard issued by the North Dakota Industrial Commission is intended to respond to spills, fires, and derailments that have injured and killed people and harmed the environment.

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Beef Industry Groups Meet to Discuss Sustainability but Leave with a Marketing Plan

A coalition of beef producers and major food companies met last month in Brazil to address an issue of increasing importance: the significant, harmful environmental impact of raising beef cattle in a world with a growing population and declining resources.

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New York State Moves to Ban Fracking, Citing Health Concerns

UPDATE (June 30, 2015): Yesterday, New York State formalized its fracking ban, concluding a seven-year public health and environmental impact study. Governor Cuomo’s administration released the Findings Statement that found that fracking’s risks are too high and officially bans the practice within the state. New York becomes the first state with significant shale gas resources to ban fracking.    

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Congress Slashes EPA Budget Again Despite Strong Public Support for Strengthening Health Protections

In a continuing effort to dismantle the ability of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect public health and the environment, Congress is poised to adopt a fiscal year 2015 budget that would reduce the agency's funding for the fifth year in a row.

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Lead and Mercury in Kids' Toys? A New York County Is Cracking Down on Dangerous Chemicals in Children's Products

UPDATE (Jan. 7, 2015): Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy signed the Toxic-Free Toys Act into law today, effectively banning seven toxic substances from children’s products sold in the county. This is a victory for the parents and advocacy organizations that fought to protect Albany County children from harmful substances linked to cancer, kidney damage, and cognitive impairment. Parents in Albany County will soon be able to purchase children’s products in the county with the peace of mind that they are not exposing their children to toxins.

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On Monday, New York’s Albany County legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill that would protect children from toxins in toys and other products. The Toxic-Free Toys Act bans certain dangerous chemicals from any children’s products sold in the county. The bill is an important step toward safeguarding children from toxins that affect development and cause other health problems.

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Strawberry Fields Forever? California's Pesticide Addiction Harms Local Communities

If you've eaten strawberries recently, you can probably thank a California grower. Mild temperatures and an extended growing season mean that at least 80 percent of strawberries sold in the U.S. originate from the state. However, new research suggests that the tasty fruit comes with a heavy price for local communities because of the extensive use of harmful pesticides. Those living near strawberry fields face higher risks of cancer and other health problems from exposure to the chemicals.

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Outgoing Maryland Governor Proposes Strongest Fracking Protections in the Nation

UPDATE (June 2, 2015): A Maryland bill establishing a two-and-a-half year moratorium on fracking became law on May 30. Both the state House and Senate passed the bill by veto-proof margins. Republican Governor Larry Hogan declined to either sign or veto the bill, allowing it to go into effect. Along with temporarily banning fracking, the bill also requires the state to create fracking regulations that will go into effect when the ban is lifted.  

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Fall 2014 Unified Agenda: What Health and Safety Standards Can We Expect in the Year Ahead?

Just before Thanksgiving, the White House quietly released the fall 2014 Unified Agenda, updating the status of public protections under development by agencies across the federal government. The fall agenda indicates that agencies expect to finalize several key health and safety rules in 2015, but other important protections will progress much more slowly or have been pushed far into the future.

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