Counting the Costs of Carbon: White House Approach Bolstered by Investigative Report

Each ton of carbon pollution from cars, planes, and power plants comes with costs. It harms our environment and threatens our health, it drives climate change, and it negatively impacts our economy. The White House has attempted to develop a standard estimate of these costs, called the “social cost of carbon,” for agencies to use in analyzing the benefits of rules designed to reduce carbon emissions. In an Aug. 25 report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) validated that effort.

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A Taxing Double Standard: Americans with Troubled Mortgages Penalized While Scofflaw Banks Enjoy Tax Breaks

In early August, Bank of America agreed to a $16.65 billion settlement, which includes funds for “consumer relief.” However, after tax write-offs and deductions, Bank of America's net penalty could be less than $15 billion.

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World Health Organization: Public Health Rules Needed to Curb E-Cigarette Risks

Contrary to industry advertising, a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) finds that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other electronic nicotine delivery systems pose significant public health hazards because of toxins emitted from the devices. The agency recommends that countries adopt e-cigarette rules to prevent misleading marketing of the products and to educate the public about the potential health risks involved.

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Drinking Diesel? Fracking Companies Use Toxic Substance without Permits

When it comes to protecting drinking water, fracking companies have just one federal rule to follow – get a permit if they are using diesel. But a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) indicates that many drillers can’t even abide by this simple requirement.

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Election Transparency Threatened by Lack of Resources for Key Agency

Impeded by a lack of resources, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has been slow to publicly release recent campaign finance disclosures. The FEC is the independent agency charged with enforcing federal election laws and making campaign finance information available to the American people. This information is vital, particularly in the wake of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that gutted our campaign finance laws, and significant delays in releasing such data are of serious concern to the health of our democracy.

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20 Tax Dodgers: $240 Million for CEOs, Big Loss for the American People

USA Today published a story last week entitled “20 big profitable companies paid no taxes.” Using data provided by S&P Capital IQ, the newspaper identified 20 firms that paid no federal taxes in the second quarter of this year despite reporting $4.4 billion in second quarter profits. Collectively, these 20 CEOs were paid $240 million by the corporations they lead, an average of $12 million per CEO.

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Unemployment Insurance: A 79-Year Old Promise to American Workers That Needs Renewing

The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Aug. 14, 1935, in the midst of the economy’s most severe contraction. At its lowest point, a quarter of the workforce was jobless, and in some areas, two-thirds of the unemployed had not worked for a year or more.  

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Industry Allies in Congress Assault Public Protections Once Again

Not content with restricting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect public health and the environment (see http://www.foreffectivegov.org/blog/congresss-latest-assault-epa), anti-regulatory members of Congress have broadened their sights to encompass the entire scope of federal agencies that provide public protections and safeguard the American people.

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GAO Report Finds Problems with EPA Groundwater Protection Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequately monitoring more than 172,000 wells used to enhance oil and gas drilling and dispose of drilling wastewater, according to a July 28 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report, based on two years of research, identified several significant problems with EPA's program to protect groundwater from drilling chemicals and wastes.

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Toxic Toledo Water: Cities Nationwide Face Similar Risks

On Aug. 2, the City of Toledo, Ohio issued a water use ban for roughly 500,000 residents after chemists detected toxic levels of microcystin in the public water supply. Microcystin is a toxin produced by harmful algal blooms caused by the overuse of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers. Large amounts of excess fertilizers run off into waterways during rainstorms. Exposure to microcystin can cause diarrhea, nausea, liver dysfunction, and nervous system damage. Beyond the public health risks, harmful algal blooms also negatively impact ecosystems and burden the economy.

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