Public Safeguards Given Little Weight at Conference on Natural Gas Expansion

On July 25, the Bipartisan Policy Center hosted an event to explore the impact of the rapid expansion of shale gas on the U.S. economy, trade, and geopolitics. Most of the discussion from panelists focused on the economic opportunities that exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) abroad would create for U.S. firms. But Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), in a keynote speech, highlighted the importance of strong public protections as the U.S. maps out its energy future. He cautioned that the United States needs to "look before we leap" as we make choices about expanded energy development.

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Five Fundamental Facts about Standards and Public Protections

Judd Gregg, a former Republican senator from New Hampshire and current CEO of the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), recently wrote an opinion piece for The Hill attacking new environmental and public health standards and financial protections.

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President's Spring Agenda Signals Continued Delays on New Rules

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) quietly published its highly anticipated Spring 2013 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda) on July 3. The spring agenda, like the previous fall agenda, does not show a strong commitment to advancing public health, safety, or environmental protections. Rather, it shows only slight progress on rules that have been under development for years and does not suggest the administration will address the pervasive delays or lack of transparency that currently plague the rulemaking process.

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Senators Press EPA about Safety Measures at Chemical Plants

In a rare display of bipartisanship, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and David Vitter (R-LA) sharply questioned staff from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in yesterday's Senate hearing on oversight of federal risk management and emergency planning programs that are designed to prevent incidents at hazardous chemical plants.

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Why Non-Defense Discretionary Spending Keeps Getting Cut

The biggest difference among the three budget plans that official Washington is currently considering is spending for non-defense discretionary programs, which includes education, infrastructure, food safety, environmental protection and other essential public investments the public says it wants government to continue to make. A chart created by the Congressional Budget Office – shows the differences between President Obama and Senate Democrats’ budget plans versus the House Republican spending blueprint.

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UPDATED: Three Reasons the REINS Act Must Be Stopped (Again)

If passed, the REINS Act would require congressional approval of all major rules, potentially endangering the most important safeguards to our health, safety, environment, and economy.

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A Big Job, on a Tiny Budget

The biggest problem illustrated by the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Tex., is not that OSHA is focusing on the wrong threats, but that its hands are tied and that it does not have the resources or the support to ensure that our nation’s workplaces are safe. The explosion at the West Fertilizer Company illustrates why Congress should act swiftly to strengthen our main workplace safety law so OSHA has the authority and the resources to protect workers.

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Honoring Workers with Stronger Standards and Safeguards

April 28 marked Workers’ Memorial Day, a day to remember and honor those who have died on the job. Workers’ Memorial Day also serves as a reminder of how much progress has been made in protecting Americans at work since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) and how much work remains to ensure all Americans are safe at work.

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OMB, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hold Forum on Trade Agreements and Regulations

On April 10, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) co-hosted a two-day stakeholder session with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of its annual High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum. The forum provides an opportunity for members of the business community to tell American and European officials how they would like the standards and safeguards that regulate their activities to be "harmonized." For the business community, "harmonization" is generally viewed as an opportunity to move to the lowest standards, or in the language of free trade, to remove or reduce "trade irritants." The exchange at the forum was between business and government; few public interest representatives were allowed to participate.

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We Need Protection from Industrial Hazards in Our Communities

On Wednesday, a fire at the West Fertilizer Co. in West, TX, caused an explosion so powerful it registered 2.1 on the Richter scale and leveled significant parts of this rural community.  As many as 15 people died and around 200 were injured, many gravely.  We still do not know what caused the explosion or whether it could have been prevented with better safety practices and regulatory oversight.

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