New Study Shows Workers at Fracking Sites Exposed to Unsafe Levels of Silica Dust

A new study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that workers at 11 hydraulic fracturing sites in five states were exposed to high levels of crystalline silica dust.

read in full

Public Protections Take Center Stage at Committee Hearing on Toxic Substances Bill

Did you know that nearly 80,000 chemicals are currently used in the United States, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only performed a safety assessment of 200 and has only issued partial restrictions for five of these substances? This illustrates how the nation's primary environmental law on toxic substances, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), has failed to protect Americans from exposure to dangerous chemicals. On July 31, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hosted a hearing to discuss the law's failures and hear from witnesses about the strengths and weaknesses of proposed legislation introduced by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) this past May.

read in full

House Votes to Ban EPA from Considering Benefits of Climate, Energy Rules

Yesterday, the House passed a bill, the Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2013, that would allow the Department of Energy to veto any U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that cost over $1 billion to implement, weakening the EPA’s ability to perform its statutorily required duties and violating the spirit and intention of the Clean Air Act.

read in full

Secret Trade Negotiations Could Threaten Britain's Popular National Health Service

As we noted in a Government Matters article a couple weeks ago, the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), also referred to as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, is set to include dangerous Investor-State Dispute Resolution mechanisms that grant private corporations the unprecedented right to sue sovereign governments in extra-legal tribunals for "lost revenues" that they claim resulted from important public protections. This poses significant threats to essential standards and safeguards including environmental preservation, food security, and chemical safety.

read in full

Senate Subcommittee Hearing to Examine Costs of Regulatory Delay

Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights, and Agency Action will hold its first hearing on regulatory policy. The hearing, titled "Justice Delayed: The Human Cost of Regulatory Paralysis," will examine the important benefits of public protections and the very real costs of regulatory delay.

read in full

Halliburton Destroys Evidence Related to Gulf Oil Spill, Pleads Guilty

On July 25, energy services giant Halliburton agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the investigation of the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. The company will pay a fine of $200,000, will be on probation for the next three years, and will make a voluntary contribution of $55 million to a wildlife conservation charity. Halliburton will also continue to cooperate in the U.S. Department of Justice's ongoing criminal investigation into the rig explosion and oil spill that killed 11 workers, polluted vast swaths of the U.S. Gulf Coast, and killed and injured untold numbers of sea birds and marine mammals.

read in full

Success of EPA Climate Standards Will Depend on White House Support

Back in June, President Obama announced a bold plan to address climate change. Now that Gina McCarthy has finally been confirmed as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), advocates are counting on the agency to move quickly on the president's promises.

read in full

Senate Confirms Cordray as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director

Cordray's confirmation marks a victory not only for financial reform advocates, but for all Americans. Now the CFPB can begin putting in place further safeguards that will help secure a stronger, more stable, and fairer financial system.

read in full

Five Fundamental Facts about Standards and Public Protections

Judd Gregg, a former Republican senator from New Hampshire and current CEO of the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), recently wrote an opinion piece for The Hill attacking new environmental and public health standards and financial protections.

read in full

Chemical "Harmonization" Through Trade Agreement Could Trigger a Global Food Catastrophe

As we reported in yesterday's edition of Government Matters, diplomats from Europe and the United States have started talks on the corporate-backed trade treaty known as the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). Though draft texts of the agreement are being kept secret from Americans and Europeans, the 2013 Technical Barriers to Trade report by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative indicates that the "harmonization" of chemical regulations to a lowest-common-denominator standard is likely to be a goal of the treaty.

read in full