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.

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Weaker Campaign Finance Limits Increase Need for Effective Disclosure

On April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, striking down aggregate limits on the contributions that individuals can give to political candidates. Coupled with the court's earlier rulings that loosened restrictions on corporate spending on election ads, this decision makes comprehensive and timely disclosure of campaign spending even more important. Voters should be able to see who is financing campaigns.

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Transparency in Government Act Looks to Change Status Quo

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) introduced a bill today that would take a number of innovative steps toward greater government transparency. The Transparency in Government Act would bring greater openness to the federal government through a number of pioneering proposals that harness 21st century technology and address critical gaps in each of the three branches.

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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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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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State Department Report Acknowledges Climate Change Impacts of Keystone XL

On Jan. 31, the U.S. Department of State published its long-awaited Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Keystone XL pipeline, which acknowledges, for the first time, that the proposed pipeline could contribute to climate change. On Feb. 3, communities and groups across the country organized over 200 local vigils in 44 states and Washington, DC to let President Obama know the risks that the pipeline will bring. The final EIS report does not provide any recommendations on the pipeline but will be used to develop a recommendation from the State Department and in the president's final decision on the pipeline.

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Almost Heaven? West Virginia Contamination Highlights Long-standing Problems with Chemical Oversight in U.S.

On Jan. 9, a major chemical spill occurred at a storage facility owned and operated by Freedom Industries when a failed above-ground storage tank leaked into the Elk River in West Virginia. Located only 1.5 miles upstream of a major public water system, the spill contaminated the drinking water supply of over 300,000 residents in nine downstream counties.

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Standards and Safeguards in 2013

Agencies rolled out few health, safety, or environmental standards in the first quarter of 2013, despite hopes that President Obama would commit more attention to agencies' regulatory agendas after winning reelection. But in the spring, the gears began to move as the administration focused on implementing crucial public protections and the new director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Howard Shelanski, made good on his promise to cut the backlog of rules waiting for review at OIRA. With the gridlock on legislation in Congress, many are looking for the administration to be more active in moving rules and action through the executive branch.

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Coal Ash Waste Standards Inch Forward, But Industry Opposition Strong

This December will mark the fifth anniversary of a massive spill of coal ash in Tennessee that destroyed three houses and damaged more than 40 others. This event sparked intensified calls for the regulation of coal ash, a waste by-product produced when coal is burned. Federal efforts to deal with the problem of coal ash have progressed slowly, but agency action on the issue may be gaining momentum in light of recent policy developments. Meanwhile, coal industry proponents in Congress are revamping legislative efforts to thwart national protections against coal waste.

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