OMB Watch Urges Congress to Vote No on Balanced Budget Amendment

The House has just passed (218-210) a plan to increase the debt ceiling. Tommorow, the House is expected to take up two versions of a resolution (H.J. Res. 1 and H.J. Res. 2) that, if approved by both chambers, would be the first step to add a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. OMB Watch has sent a letter to the House strongly urging all members to vote "no" on this harmful amendment.

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Obama Announces New Fuel Efficiency Standards, Joined by Automakers

President Obama today announced new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks that are expected to produce savings for consumers, reduce U.S. oil dependence, and reduce air pollutants. Joined by executives from the top auto manufacturers in a rare showing of agreement, the president put forward new standards that would require cars and light trucks for Model Years 2017-2025 to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

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Appropriations Riders Threaten Fundamental Environmental Protections

Republicans in the House are loading the 2012 spending bill for the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with dozens of policy riders that would hamper efforts to protect our health, air, water, and wildlife.

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Freedom of Information is a Human Right, UN Body Says

Access to government information is a human right, according to a commentary issued today by the United Nations' Human Rights Committee. The comment is the most comprehensive statement to date embracing freedom of information as integral to human rights under international law.

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With FAA Reauthorization, Congress Fiddles While Everyone Else Burns

Add this to the list of the nation’s current budgetary woes: according to Bloomberg news, the Treasury is losing about $30 million a day, or close to $200 million a week, because Congress has allowed the Federal Aviation Administration’s congressional authorization to lapse and, as a result, Treasury isn’t collecting taxes on airplane tickets. The House of Representatives is trying to ram through a provision that will make it harder for aviation workers to unionize, and the debate is holding up the latest in a long, long line of short-term extensions of the FAA’s authorization. Although it has been extended twenty times since it expired in 2007, Congress failed to re-authorize the FAA by July 22, meaning Treasury no longer has the authority to collect airline taxes. To add insult to injury, airlines have used this as an opportunity to raise their prices and reap more profit from consumers.

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As Air Quality Worsens on the East Coast, Report Identifies "Toxic 20" States with Most Toxic Air Pollution from Power Plants

As the air quality in both Washington, DC and Maryland has hit code red (pollution levels are harmful to all) this week, a recent report, issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility, reminds us of the danger of air pollution, in particular the risk to environmental and human health by dumping toxic poisons into our air.

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Cut, Cap, and Balance and the Future of the Balanced Budget Amendment

Conservative members of Congress are not being very helpful in the debt ceiling debate. The Republican-led House of Representatives earlier this week voted through their "solution" to the problem in the form of the so-called “Cut, Cap, and Balance” bill. But the House likely only voted on the bill because they couldn’t get enough votes for the bill conservatives actually wanted: a balanced budget amendment filled with conservative policy goals. But with the Senate unlikely to pass the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill, Congress might turn to the next worse alternative: a plain balanced budget amendment.

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Causes of Yellowstone River Spill Still Unknown, Montana Landowners Fear Consequences

In the July 12 edition of The Watcher, we observed how disasters like the Yellowstone River oil spill in Montana underscore the need for safeguards and oversight of industry. On Thursday, members of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials held a hearing to investigate the Silvertip Pipeline oil spill, but received no answers as to the causes of the pipeline failure.

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Scientists and Economists Agree – Health and Safety Regulations Are Good for Our Health and Good for the Economy

Health and safety advocates have argued for decades that investments in clean energy and environmental protections help to create jobs. Time and time again, reports have shown that supporting clean energy fosters the development of new, job-creating industries, and that compliance with environmental health and safety standards encourages companies to hire new workers and invest in local economies. A host of new studies published in the past week provide even more support for those claims.

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New Critique of Crain and Crain Study Rejects Claim about Costs of Public Safeguards

An estimate of the cost of public protections often cited by regulatory opponents has been rejected by researchers from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The critique, Flaws Call for Rejecting Crain and Crain Model, concludes that because the $1.75 trillion cost estimate is heavily based on flawed methodology and flawed data, it "should not be used either as a valid measure of the costs of regulation or as a guide for policy."

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