Friday Appropriations Update

As noted in a Watcher article earlier this week, with Congress' August recess around the corner, the appropriations process is picking up steam. Or, should I say, it should be picking up steam.  I'll let our patented AppropriationsWatch™ do the talking.

read in full

AU Asks IRS to Investigate Oklahoma Group for Electioneering Against Transgender Candidate

Last Week, Americans United for Separation of Church and State urged the IRS to investigate an Oklahoma religious organization for violating federal law prohibiting tax-exempt groups from electioneering.

Americans United claims that Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ, a tax-exempt organization, sent out an e-mail urging those on its email distribution list to support Rep. Sally Kern in her reelection campaign for the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

read in full

EPA Rejects Challenge to Climate Change Finding

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on July 29 denied 10 petitions challenging its 2009 finding that climate change caused by greenhouse gases poses a threat to human health and the environment. EPA made the endangerment finding in response to a 2007 Supreme Court case that held that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and are therefore subject to regulation by EPA.

read in full

EPA Pushing Pollution Data Out to Public with New Tools, Earliest TRI Release Ever

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week released the preliminary 2009 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data, the earliest data release in the history of the program. The TRI program tracks toxic pollution from thousands of facilities nationwide and is considered one of the most successful environmental programs and a cornerstone of environmental right to know. The preliminary data are now available for the public to download and analyze, maintaining TRI as a vital tool for holding businesses accountable for their pollution and driving changes to prevent pollution.

read in full

SIGIR: Pentagon Flushed Iraqi Funds down Toilet with Alarming Efficiency

Will this make the Iraqi people like us more or less?

On Tuesday, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released a devastating report on the Department of Defense's (DOD) control of Iraqi reconstruction funds. SIGIR reviewed the Pentagon's control of the funds from 2004 to 2007 and found that DOD could not account for 96 percent of the $9.1 billion it received during that time.

read in full

Senate Committee Approves Leaving Millions at Unnecessary Risk

Yesterday the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) failed to take action to protect the public, instead choosing to let millions of Americans remain at unnecessary risk of chemical disasters. The committee members chose to gut a House-passed bill that would have reduced the consequences of a terrorist attack on chemical plants and water treatment facilities. The committee also refused to consider a similar bill from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Both the House bill and the Lautenberg bill would have protected workers and communities by driving the adoption of safer, cost effective technologies that eliminate the threat of an intentionally released cloud of poison gas from a chemical plant.

read in full

Committee Approves Shareholder Protection Act

The House Financial Services Committee approved the Shareholder Protection Act, H.R. 4790. The bill requires shareholder approval of a corporation's political spending for federal races. The Securities and Exchange Commission would have to issue rules requiring corporations to disclose any materials for political activities created with or purchased using company money. The bill was introduced by Rep.

read in full

Bill Would Create a Task Force for Enforcing the LDA

The Lobbying Disclosure Enhancement Act passed the House to establish a task force to strengthen enforcement of rules for federally registered lobbyists. Originally, the bill was the Fees on Lobbyists Act. It would have set up registration fees and fines for lobbyists' late filings to fund enforcement. However, the bill was amended to simply create the Lobbying Disclosure Enforcement Task Force.

read in full

Groups Work to Change the LDA

Reportedly, the American League of Lobbyists is working with the Sunlight Foundation to change the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). Once again Tom Daschle is the poster child for why such reform is needed. "Daschle, working with his firm's lobbyists, uses his decades of congressional experience to tell clients how to favorably influence policy.

read in full

New Study Finds High Levels of Controversial Plastics Chemical in Paper Receipts

A new analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) suggests that many Americans are at risk of exposure to a dangerous chemical that has been found in baby bottles, the lining of food and beverage containers, and now paper receipts. Significant levels of bisphenol-A (BPA), a controversial chemical that is not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency, was found in 40 percent of paper receipts collected from major retailers, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, fast-food restaurants, post offices and ATMs.

read in full