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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White House: Act Now or Pay More Later to Stem Climate Change

Acting now to address the impacts of climate change would produce far more benefits at a much lower cost than waiting until a later date, according to a new White House report, titled The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change. Based on a rigorous analysis of existing studies, the report estimates a 40 percent increase in the cost of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas linked to climate change, for every decade of delay.

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Obama’s Executive Order to Improve Chemical Facility Safety, One Year Later

One year ago today, President Obama issued Executive Order 13650, which directs federal agencies to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities. The order came in response to a string of chemical disasters, including the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that killed 15 people and injured more than 200.

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Report Finds Flaws in Small Business Advocacy Office

According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy has failed to develop and implement procedures necessary to ensure the office is effectively carrying out its mission of representing small businesses before federal agencies.  

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EPA Requests Public Comments on Chemical Safety Standards

On July 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a preview of its Request for Information (RFI) on revisions to its Risk Management Program, which tracks information and requires disaster prevention plans from potentially risky chemical facilities.

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Lifting the Ban on Crude Oil Exports Troubling in Light of Recent Rail Catastrophes

What do fracking, recent rail car explosions, and international trade have in common? A volatile light crude oil called "condensate."

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