Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement Resources

The safety standards on which we rely daily for our food, medicines and cars. The energy and climate policies needed to save our planet. The new financial regulations designed to prevent banks from gambling with our money and creating another crisis. These are policies that should be determined in open, democratic venues where we have a say. But a group of the largest U.S. and European banks and corporations want to rewrite these safeguards behind closed doors. For over a decade, they have pushed for a new U.S. "trade" deal with Europe – the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which corporate proponents have tried to rebrand as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – a deal that would roll back consumer protections on both sides of the Atlantic.

read in full

Center for Effective Government Applauds New Executive Order to Rein in Government Contractors with History of Labor Violations

"We applaud the new executive order requiring that federal agencies consider the record of labor violations of companies competing for federal contracts. For too long, companies with a long history of substantial violations of labor law have continued to be awarded profitable government contracts while treating employees abysmally and violating the law. Congress's investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), has reported that billions of dollars in taxpayer monies are annually awarded to companies that routinely violate our labor standards."

read in full

Americans Enjoy Major Benefits from Public Health, Safety, Environmental Protections, New Study Finds

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014—A new study released today by the Center for Effective Government adds to an expanding body of evidence demonstrating that public health, safety, and environmental protections provide significant, important benefits to the American people. These standards improve our nation's quality of life and public confidence in American products and businesses.

read in full

The Benefits of Public Protections: Ten Rules That Save Lives and Protect the Environment

This report examines the public health, worker safety, and environmental benefits projected from ten proposed or final rules issued between 2009 and 2014 by five federal agencies (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service). These rules range from reducing toxic air pollutants from power plants and other large industrial sources, to reducing workers’ exposure to disease-causing silica, and to making vehicles safer.

read in full

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.

read in full

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.

read in full

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. 

read in full

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.

read in full

Chemical Safety Report Opens Door for Improvements, but Strong Requirements Still Needed

On June 6, the interagency working group that President Obama formed in the wake of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion released its report to the president, conveying its recommendations for improving chemical facility safety and security. The report outlines many of the significant problems facing chemical facility safety in this country, including limited information sharing, incomplete and incompatible regulations, and the need for greater use of safer technologies. The recommendations on these problems point in the right direction but leave the details to the individual agencies to resolve as they move forward on possible regulations and policy changes.

read in full

Calls for Required Safeguards from Disasters Grow as Obama Administration Releases Report on Chemical Plant Safety and Security

While we are pleased the Working Group report included some of the recommendations made by the most endangered communities and workers, if the Obama administration is serious about protecting workers and communities, the president must stand up for prevention requirements that include safer chemicals and processes. The people of West, Texas deserve better than the voluntary half-measures in today's report. They, and millions of Americans like them, deserve real safeguards from the threat of chemical disasters that are adopted as enforceable requirements – not just voluntary recommendations that the industry can ignore until the next disaster. The true test of President Obama's call to action will come with the EPA's Request For Information (RFI), due to be issued in the Federal Register in the coming weeks.

read in full