House Majority’s Last-Ditch Effort to Undermine Public Protections, Award Corporate Giveaways

Highlights:
  • This week, the House majority plans to introduce a large package of anti-regulatory, pro-industry bills under a smokescreen of "job creation."

  • Many of the proposals included in this package threaten critical safeguards by adding costly and time-intensive procedural hurdles to an already extensive rulemaking process.

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Cooking the Books on the Costs of Rules

As part of the ongoing national effort by some in the business community and their allies in Congress to attack standards and safeguards, a report released today by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) provides a wildly exaggerated and unreliable estimate for the cost of federal rules in 2012. The report, prepared by economists W. Mark Crain and Nicole V.

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Tracking Toxic Trains in California and Boosting Federal Safeguards

The oil boom in North Dakota's Bakken region has led to more crude oil being transported by train throughout the country and, consequently, a rise in oil train accidents. On Aug. 29, California passed new legislation that would help emergency response officials prepare for potential disasters. The legislation would require rail companies to submit emergency response plans and inform officials about the movement of crude oil and other hazardous materials through the state. The bill dovetails with related federal efforts to boost rail safety.

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BP "Grossly Negligent" in 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

On Sept. 4, a federal district court in Louisiana ruled that BP’s “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct” resulted in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and resulted in millions of barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. The finding could subject BP to roughly $18 billion in civil penalties under the Clean Water Act, or up to $4,300 for each barrel of oil that spilled into the Gulf.

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Counting the Costs of Carbon: White House Approach Bolstered by Investigative Report

Each ton of carbon pollution from cars, planes, and power plants comes with costs. It harms our environment and threatens our health, it drives climate change, and it negatively impacts our economy. The White House has attempted to develop a standard estimate of these costs, called the “social cost of carbon,” for agencies to use in analyzing the benefits of rules designed to reduce carbon emissions. In an Aug. 25 report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) validated that effort.

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World Health Organization: Public Health Rules Needed to Curb E-Cigarette Risks

Contrary to industry advertising, a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) finds that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other electronic nicotine delivery systems pose significant public health hazards because of toxins emitted from the devices. The agency recommends that countries adopt e-cigarette rules to prevent misleading marketing of the products and to educate the public about the potential health risks involved.

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Burning Money: Natural Gas Flaring Costs Millions in Lost Revenue

Nighttime satellite imagery makes it seem like a new metropolis has sprung up in the prairies of western North Dakota. But the large cluster of lights actually comes from natural gas flaring in the Bakken oil field. Flaring – or the burning of natural gas released in oil fracking – creates pollution and costs the state millions of dollars in lost taxes and royalties.

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Three and a Half Decades after Ban, PCBs Still Detected in Consumer Products

Consumer products and packaging ranging from newspapers to cereal boxes contain a category of toxic chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), according to a report released Aug. 7 by the Washington State Department of Ecology. The chemicals were banned 35 years ago and are no longer used in manufacturing, but are still generated as a byproduct of certain chemical processes.

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Industry Allies in Congress Assault Public Protections Once Again

Not content with restricting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect public health and the environment (see http://www.foreffectivegov.org/blog/congresss-latest-assault-epa), anti-regulatory members of Congress have broadened their sights to encompass the entire scope of federal agencies that provide public protections and safeguard the American people.

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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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