GAO Report Finds Problems with EPA Groundwater Protection Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequately monitoring more than 172,000 wells used to enhance oil and gas drilling and dispose of drilling wastewater, according to a July 28 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report, based on two years of research, identified several significant problems with EPA's program to protect groundwater from drilling chemicals and wastes.

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Billions of Dollars Missing From Government Spending Website

Last December, National Priorities Project and the Center for Effective Government noted that "hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending are missing from USASpending, the website designed to show the public how their tax dollars are spent."

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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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Momentum Growing as Campaign Finance Amendment Clears Senate Committee

On July 10, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to support S.J. Res. 19, a proposed constitutional amendment that would restore the ability of Congress and the states to regulate money in elections. The amendment was introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) amid growing concerns over the influence of money in politics, particularly following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

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Yet Another Chemical Plant Fire in Texas Underscores the Importance of Disclosure

On July 7, a fire broke out at a Chevron Phillips chemical plant in Port Arthur, Texas injuring two workers and frightening neighbors in the largely residential neighborhood. While the cause of the fire is still being determined, the incident highlights the danger posed by facilities that store large amounts of chemicals and the importance of providing the public with information on chemical threats in their communities. 

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The IRS Isn't the Only Agency with an E-mail Problem

Washington sure does love a political scandal, and no one more than House oversight committee Chairman Darrell Issa. The story of the missing IRS e-mail provides all the necessary ingredients: an agency accused of abusing its authority, outstanding congressional document requests and e-mail messages from a key IRS employee gone missing. That was all Issa needed to launch a vicious attack on the credibility and integrity of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who appeared before the committee Monday night to explain what happened to the missing e-mail and why. But between Issa’s outrage and Koskinen’s effort to avoid responsibility, not much was revealed.

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What is this Country about Anymore?

Meet Mark. He's a 58 year old, college-educated veteran who lives in Oregon. He was laid off last September and has been unable to find work since. Mark's state unemployment benefits ran out in May. Since funding for the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was cut last December, Mark and more than three million other Americans, including nearly 300,000 veterans, have been denied access to a second six months of support — a vital financial lifeline in this tough economy. Mark is way behind in his rent, is selling everything of value he owns, and fears he will be homeless soon.

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Campaign Transparency Efforts Continue in Congress and the FCC

Amid growing concerns about untracked spending on elections, two different efforts are underway to try to shed new light on this critical aspect of our democracy. First, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on June 24 reintroduced the DISCLOSE Act, which would require groups trying to influence elections to disclose their funding sources. Second, the July 1 reporting deadline for the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) online political file rule has arrived. The rule requires broadcast television stations to post information online about political advertisements.

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