Toxic Chemical Plagues Cleanup Crews Five Years after BP Oil Spill Disaster

Five years ago, an offshore oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and causing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. The BP oil spill fouled the Gulf with over 172 million gallons of crude oil. The aftermath of the spill is still visible on certain coastlines, and a toxic chemical that BP used to "clean up" the oil is still injuring people and wildlife in the region.

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Can We Get Serious about Train Safety? Technology Could Reduce 40 Percent of Rail Accidents

Last month, we wrote about the rise in crude oil train accidents and the need to approve federal crude-by-rail safeguards as quickly as possible. These rules, currently under review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, would require thicker walls on oil tankards and impose speed limits on oil trains.

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The Administration's New Fracking Rule Has a Few Catches

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just released a long-awaited rule that regulates fracking on federal and tribal lands, the first revision to federal fracking standards in almost 30 years. BLM currently manages over 100,000 oil and gas wells – over 90 percent of which are fracked. The rule establishes minimum safeguards that must be followed when drilling occurs on federal or tribal lands.

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A 300-Foot High Fireball from an Exploding Bakken Oil Train: When Will New Rail Safety Standards Be Approved?

UPDATE (Mar. 25, 2015): Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced legislation today that would create stronger crude-by-rail safeguards than those currently under review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Among other things, the Cantwell-Baldwin bill would require the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to limit the volatile gases in crude oil that is transported by rail. The PHMSA and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) rules currently under review require thicker tank car shells but do not regulate the crude itself, which is highly volatile and can explode during accidents. 

The Cantwell-Baldwin bill would also ban certain classes of older tank cars, immediately removing 37,700 unsafe cars from use. It requires railroad companies to alert state and local emergency response officials when moving crude through communities and significantly increases fines for violations.  

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On Presidents' Day, a train carrying volatile crude oil derailed in Fayette County, West Virginia, igniting several railcars and creating a fireball 300 feet high. While no one was seriously injured, the incident is a stark reminder of the need for stronger safeguards to protect communities near the tracks that transport crude oil.

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Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Bill Promotes Big Industry Interests in the Guise of Helping Small Business

Under the cynical guise of helping small businesses, on Jan. 27, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up, and the House will soon likely pass, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015 (SBRFIA, H.R. 527).

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UPDATE: Three Reasons the REINS Act Must Be Stopped (Again)

If passed, the REINS Act would require congressional approval of all major rules, potentially endangering the most important safeguards to our health, safety, environment, and economy.

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114th Congress Begins Attack on Public Protections with So-Called Regulatory Accountability Act

On Jan. 7, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 185). This measure would cripple our process for issuing and enforcing the rules that ensure we have clean air and water, safe food and consumer products, fair wages and safe workplaces, stable financial markets, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and so many other essential protections.

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EPA Delays Rule to Limit Carbon Emissions from New Power Plants

UPDATE (1/8/2015): The White House has announced that EPA will not meet today’s deadline for issuing a final rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. Instead, the agency will not finalize the rule until mid-summer, skirting a statutory deadline that requires EPA to finalize the rule within one year of its proposal. On a press call Jan.

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Downward Trend Continues in Enforcement of Environmental Standards

Don’t be surprised if you missed hearing about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual report on its compliance and enforcement efforts for fiscal year (FY) 2014. The report, released the week before Christmas with little public or media attention, highlights what has become a disturbing downward trend over the past several years. Reductions in enforcement can mean less compliance with pollution control requirements and more exposure to toxic chemicals, putting human health and natural resources at risk.

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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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