One Year after West, Texas: One in Ten Students Attends School in the Shadow of a Risky Chemical Facility

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2014—One year after the fertilizer facility explosion in West, Texas, which destroyed and severely damaged nearby schools, an analysis by the Center for Effective Government finds that nearly one in ten American schoolchildren live and study within one mile of a potentially dangerous chemical facility.

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Accelerating Approvals of U.S. Natural Gas Exports Increases Risks of Environmental Disasters and Rising Energy Costs

Long before Russia's annexation of Crimea last month, companies and trade associations that support exporting U.S. liquefied natural gas called for accelerating the existing export review and approval process. With mounting concerns that Russia will continue its incursion into Ukraine, through which major Russian natural gas pipelines travel, U.S. export proponents are seizing the opportunity to repackage their agenda by framing it as a strong signal to Russia that its power over the global liquefied natural gas market is diminishing. However, significantly expanding U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas overseas has major economic and environmental risks, and proposals to accelerate the approval process for export projects in response to the crisis in Ukraine would only enhance these threats.

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E-Gov Spotlight: Department of Labor's Enforcement Data Tool Provides Access to Worker Safety Information

During Workers' Memorial Day on April 28, the country will honor Americans who have died from a job-related illness or injury. Relevant to that commemoration is the Department of Labor's online enforcement database, which sheds light on safety enforcement actions and company performance in protecting workers from injury, illness, and death.

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EPA’s Farmworker Protection Standard Proposal -- An (Insufficient) Step Forward

On March 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposal to revise the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which was first announced by the agency on Feb. 20.

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Delayed Health and Safety Standards Cost Lives

On Tuesday, I testified at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce about why critical health and safety standards were being delayed and how we could improve the timeliness and transparency of the rulemaking process. A condensed version of my oral testimony follows, along with a link to my written testimony.

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Attempts to Use Congressional Review Act for Proposed Rules Threaten All Public Safeguards

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has recently taken an unprecedented action by introducing a joint resolution to disapprove of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed greenhouse gas emissions limits for new power plants. Through the resolution, McConnell is attempting to utilize the accelerated legislative procedures provided in the Congressional Review Act, even though the law was designed only for reviewing final agency rules.

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Idaho's "Ag-Gag" Law Threatens Transparency, Food Safety, and Workers' Rights

On Feb. 28, Idaho became the seventh state in the country to criminalize filming abusive or otherwise unethical activities on farms. These laws (dubbed "ag-gag" laws) limit transparency and keep Americans in the dark about food safety problems. Activists, journalists, and whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing animal abuse, unsafe working conditions, and other violations on farms.

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Public Protections Budget Dashboard -- FY 2015

A critical function of our government is to protect us from known harm. We expect our national government to keep contaminated food off the grocery store shelves and out of restaurants; to prevent industrial facilities from poisoning the air and water in our communities, and to ensure we have safe workplaces. When our health and safety systems are working well, they tend to be invisible to us, and we take them for granted. It's when they fail that we pay attention. And we are likely to see more failures in coming years if we continue to reduce the resources available to public agencies when the scope and complexities of the challenges they face are increasing.

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Communities Continue to Call for Stronger Protections as Chemical Incidents Rise

As the number of chemical disasters and injuries continues to mount in 2014, evidence shows that the risks that chemical facilities present to the local communities in which they are located are greater than many residents previously understood. The Center for Effective Government has created a set of maps, showing how close many of these facilities are to schools and hospitals. The maps are helping communities press for new oversight, safer chemicals, and stronger enforcement of existing standards to prevent future disasters.

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House Republicans Return to Attacking Public Health and Environmental Protections

This week, the House of Representatives will vote on a series of anti-regulatory proposals during a campaign targeting important public health and environmental safeguards. While House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has dubbed the campaign #StopGovtAbuse Week, the proposed legislation is in fact designed to delay or halt the rulemaking process by adding time-consuming and redundant procedural hurdles, by providing regulated industries additional opportunities to delay the process, and by stripping away the public's right to petition agencies when they fail to act.

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