Using the Clean Air Act to Protect Americans from Chemical Accidents

In March, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advisory panel recommended that the agency use its authority under the Clean Air Act to protect Americans against chemical disasters. Using safer chemicals could reduce or eliminate the threats and dangers that chemical plants pose to millions of people living downwind.

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How to Strengthen Transparency in the U.S. Open Government Plan

Yesterday, OMB Watch submitted its recommendations for the Obama administration's national plan for the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The administration will unveil its plan, with new concrete commitments to increase transparency, at the international OGP meeting on Sept. 20.

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Chemical Bill Keeps Americans in Harm’s Way, Weakens National Security

On June 22, the House Homeland Security Committee approved H.R. 901, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security Authorization Act of 2011, which would extend the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) for another seven years.

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What Does the President's Budget Mean for Transparency?

The president's budget request for fiscal year 2012, released on Feb. 14, is the opening bid in a months-long process to decide how much the federal government will spend on everything from the Navy to open government efforts. The administration's budget proposal is difficult to analyze in terms of open government commitments because it doesn’t include line-item categories for transparency activities. However, it does provide some clues about increases and cuts.

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Senate Committee Approves Leaving Millions at Unnecessary Risk

Yesterday the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) failed to take action to protect the public, instead choosing to let millions of Americans remain at unnecessary risk of chemical disasters. The committee members chose to gut a House-passed bill that would have reduced the consequences of a terrorist attack on chemical plants and water treatment facilities. The committee also refused to consider a similar bill from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Both the House bill and the Lautenberg bill would have protected workers and communities by driving the adoption of safer, cost effective technologies that eliminate the threat of an intentionally released cloud of poison gas from a chemical plant.

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Chemical Security Bills Reduce Risk, but Secrecy Weakens Program

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced two related chemical facility security bills that would reduce the consequences of a catastrophic accident or terrorist attack at many of the nation's chemical plants and drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. The legislation addresses many of the issues raised by a coalition of environmental and openness groups, but it fails to provide the accountability and transparency needed to ensure the government's chemical security program would actually make facilities and communities safe.

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Millions Protected From Toxic Terrorism, Congress Must Act to Protect More

More than 40 million Americans are no longer at risk from a poisonous cloud of gas released from a terrorist attack on water treatment plants thanks to process changes at the plants, according to data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The data, painstakingly compiled and analyzed by the Center for American Progress (CAP), reveal that 554 water treatment facilities across the country have converted to safer chemical processes since 1999. However, millions more remain at risk and the Senate is poised to take on this issue. 

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Transparency: Change You can Trust

In 2008, we heard a lot about "change." In this 2009 year-end summary, we use another type of "change" to rate the Obama administration's transparency efforts thus far.

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House Passes Chemical Security Bill

More than eight years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the House approved legislation that seeks to greatly reduce the risks of terrorist attacks on chemical plants and water treatment facilities. The Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009, passed in a 230-193 vote, includes measures long sought by labor, environmental, and public interest groups, including greater worker participation and the authority for states to implement stronger security standards. However, the House bill lacks measures to ensure an accountable security program that is not hobbled by excessive secrecy.

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OMB Watch Updates Chemical Security Database, Enhancing Public's Right to Know about Potential Risks

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2009—On Oct. 29, OMB Watch posted updated information about the risks of serious public harm posed by thousands of chemical facilities nationwide. The risk management plans of approximately 14,000 facilities that handle more than the threshold amounts of 140 dangerous chemicals are publicly available through the website of the Right-to-Know Network (RTK NET), at www.rtknet.org/db/rmp.

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