Settlement in Public Interest Lawsuit Should Improve Fracking Disclosure in Wyoming

Drilling companies nationwide have been keeping the identities of many fracking chemicals a secret by simply stamping them "confidential business information," also known as "trade secrets." In Wyoming, regulators had long accepted these claims with little validation, and residents were left in the dark about the toxic chemicals being injected into the ground near their homes, schools, and water supplies. A recent settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed by public interest groups, including the Center for Effective Government, will change this practice.

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Toxic Industrial Releases Rose 14 Percent in 2013, Primarily Due to Metal Mining Wastes

Data from the Toxics Release Inventory released last month reveals significant increases in toxic pollution across the country in 2013. Toxins released from industrial facilities into surrounding communities increased by more than 500 million pounds, or 14 percent, between 2012 and 2013.  This is the most significant increase in toxins in years. (See our Right-to-Know Network (RTK NET) website).

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Wyoming to Strengthen Fracking Chemical Disclosure in Response to Citizen Pressure

CASPER, WY, Jan. 26, 2015—Under a settlement agreement approved late Friday (Jan. 23), the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission must adopt more rigorous policies for scrutinizing industry requests to keep the identities of fracking chemicals secret.

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First Bill Introduced in 114th Congress Attempts to Force Approval of Costly Keystone XL Pipeline

On the first day of the 114th Congress, Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Keystone XL Pipeline Act (S. 1), which would attempt to force the Obama administration to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline without first addressing its significant environmental impacts.

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UPDATE: Freedom Industries President Faces Criminal Charges for West Virginia Chemical Leak

The FBI has filed criminal charges against Freedom Industries President Gary Southern for allegedly making false statements regarding January’s chemical spill into the Elk River. The FBI’s complaint charges Southern with bankruptcy fraud, making a false oath in a bankruptcy proceeding, and wire fraud. According to the complaint, “Shortly after the leak and discharge of MCHM into the Elk River was discovered on January 9, 2014, Southern engaged in a pattern of deceitful behavior, which included numerous false and/or fraudulent statements about his role at Freedom, his role in the sale of Freedom to Chemstream, and his knowledge about conditions at the Etowah Facility.” If Southern is found guilty on all counts, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

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Freedom of Information Act Reform Prevails over Last-Minute Holds

In the final days of the 113th Congress, the Senate successfully passed bipartisan legislation to reform the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The measure prevailed after several senators placed holds on the bill, temporarily blocking a vote. The last hold, by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), was lifted Monday afternoon, and the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent. The House, which already passed a version of the legislation, now has a handful of days to approve the Senate bill and send it to President Obama for his signature. 

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Strawberry Fields Forever? California's Pesticide Addiction Harms Local Communities

If you've eaten strawberries recently, you can probably thank a California grower. Mild temperatures and an extended growing season mean that at least 80 percent of strawberries sold in the U.S. originate from the state. However, new research suggests that the tasty fruit comes with a heavy price for local communities because of the extensive use of harmful pesticides.   Those living near strawberry fields face higher risks of cancer and other health problems from exposure to the chemicals.

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Outgoing Maryland Governor Proposes Strongest Fracking Protections in the Nation

Maryland may soon join neighboring West Virginia and Pennsylvania by allowing fracking in the state. Outgoing Governor Martin O’Malley announced that he will open the doors to drilling companies as long as they follow strict safeguards for protecting public health and the environment.

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Mapping DuPont's Deadly Chemical Leak

On Saturday, Nov. 15, a toxic chemical leak at a DuPont manufacturing plant outside of Houston killed four workers and hospitalized another, serving as another troubling example of the need for stronger chemical safety standards. The chemical involved in the leak, methyl mercaptan, can cause eye and lung irritation and can be fatal at high levels. Numerous other U.S. facilities use and store this chemical, including those featured in a new interactive map by the Center for Effective Government.

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Perilous Powder: Asbestos in Cosmetics Causes Lung Cancer

When people think of asbestos, they may envision trained workers in hazmat suits removing asbestos insulation from older buildings. What many people don’t realize is that asbestos is still used in a variety of consumer products ranging from clothing to floor tiles. A recent peer-reviewed study found asbestos in one brand of talcum powder and linked its use to a woman’s death from lung cancer.

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