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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GAO Report Rejects McConnell’s Latest Attack on Public Safeguards

On May 29, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report rejecting Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) latest ploy to stop EPA from moving forward with a proposed rule that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.

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$3 Million Awarded to Texas Family Harmed by Fracking Toxins

A recent court decision out of Dallas County, Texas has made national headlines after a jury awarded $2.925 million in damages to a family harmed by Aruba Petroleum's intentional release of air toxins from fracking wells located near the family's home.

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Spring 2014 Unified Agenda: Agencies Expect Lengthy Delays of Critical Safeguards in Year Ahead

On May 23, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) quietly published its semi-annual agenda of federal agencies’ regulatory plans for significant actions expected during the upcoming year. Unfortunately, the Spring 2014 Unified Agenda does not send a strong message that the administration expects to finalize many critical safeguards, some pending for years, over the next 12 months.

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Minnesota Bans Common Antibacterial Chemical

Minnesota recently went on record as the first state to ban triclosan, a chemical commonly found in antibacterial soaps and body washes. A bill signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton will take effect Jan. 1, 2017, prohibiting the use of triclosan in products "used by consumers for sanitizing or hand and body cleansing."

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