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.  

Background

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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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Senate Bill Would Ensure Negligent Corporate Officials Are Held Accountable

On July 16, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Hide No Harm Act. The legislation would require corporate officers to disclose to employees, federal officials, and the public information and warnings about serious dangers associated with product defects or unsafe work practices. Currently, criminal fines and imprisonment are rarely imposed on individual corporate executives who have knowingly concealed such crucial information, but this bill would ensure that those personally responsible for decisions leading to serious injuries or deaths are held criminally accountable.

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EPA Addresses Misinformation Surrounding Proposed “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

Update (07/17/2014): On July 16, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a number of measures to limit the EPA's ability to regulate water pollution. These measures would entirely halt the agency's proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule and restrict the timeframe that the EPA has to veto pollution permits. Under the bills passed by the committee, individual states will have greater authority over water pollution permits.

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DOT Allows Many Truckers Delivering Fireworks for 4th of July to Extend Work Hours

Approximately 35 million Americans will travel on our nation’s highways between July 2 and July 6 for Independence Day festivities, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). Driving alongside them will be truckers hauling explosive fireworks to their destinations in time for Friday’s celebrations. But instead of bolstering public protections to ensure highway safety during one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has chosen to relax driving restrictions for truckers employed by more than 50 companies (see notices here and here) who will be transporting fireworks on heavily traveled roadways from June 28 to July 8.

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