Hydrogen Fluoride – A Toxic Chemical in Your Neighborhood?

Across the nation, 167 industrial facilities currently store and use hydrogen fluoride, a dangerous and highly toxic gas, in their manufacturing processes. In the past 15 years, 129 incidents have occurred, causing 100 injuries and five deaths, a high accident rate given the number of facilities. Many of these facilities are located in densely populated areas, and a release of hydrogen fluoride could put millions in danger. However, safer alternatives to this toxic chemical are available. Find out if you live near one of these facilities with a new map by the Center for Effective Government.

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ALEC’s Latest Trojan Horse: The Attack on Standards and Safeguards Moves to the States

In recent years, special interests and their allies in Congress have pushed a number of dangerous proposals to "reform" the rulemaking process to undermine the standards and safeguards that guarantee clean air and water, safe workplaces, healthy food, and safe medicines. Now, these same special interests are pushing similar proposals in the states. Many of these so-called "reforms" expand or institutionalize requirements that delay and weaken important regulations and increase the already outsized influence of corporations in setting environmental, food, consumer, and worker safety policies.

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More Federal User Fees Could Be Part of a Mini Budget Deal

Observers have low expectations of the special House-Senate committee set up to craft recommendations for a long-term fiscal deal to replace the next nine years of so-called "sequestration" (automatic and indiscriminate budget cuts). Those recommendations are due by Dec. 13. The committee met for the first time last week, with Republicans publicly opposed to tax reforms that could generate more revenue and Democrats rejecting a spending cuts-only approach. But some think a smaller deal could happen to replace a year or more of sequestration, involving more "federal user fees" as a modest way to generate more funding.

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E-Gov Spotlight: EPA's Enforcement Database Gets Updated

On Oct. 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a beta 2.0 version of its enforcement and compliance web-based tool. The new version should make it easier for the public to find information on which facilities near their communities violate air, water, and pollution standards. The agency has requested user feedback as it continues to update and fine-tune the site, so we encourage readers to visit the website and provide comments on your experience to the agency.

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Congress Continues Efforts to Thwart Climate Change Emissions Limits

On Sept. 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new proposal to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new coal-fired power plants. The Center for Effective Government applauded the steady progress on the rule but warned of likely challenges from climate-change deniers, regulatory opponents, and their allies in Congress. Over the past month, these challenges have appeared in the form of draft legislation and appropriations riders that seek to repeal or severely limit EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fueled power plants under the Clean Air Act.

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States Taking the Lead to Curb Toxic Chemical Exposure

A new state law addressing toxic flame retardants recently enacted in California is the latest in a string of successful state efforts to improve chemical safety. In response to insufficient federal controls on toxic chemicals, many states have passed or proposed their own policies to protect residents from the risks posed by hazardous chemicals. In the absence of comprehensive national protections, it is imperative that states take the lead in addressing risks to health and safety.

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Benefits Finder: A Path through the Government Benefits Maze

The recent government shutdown shuttered some websites and left others frozen without up-to-date information. Benefits.gov, a one-stop-shop for government benefits assistance, was among the government websites that remained online, but without ongoing updates. The site, which helps citizens assess their eligibility for more than 1,000 governmental assistance programs across 17 different agencies, is a critical service for the public.

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Americans Want Safer Chemical Facilities, but the Shutdown Stalled Reform Efforts

A new poll released Oct. 11 found that a majority of Americans want the federal government to require facilities to use safer chemicals and processes to prevent chemical disasters like the explosion in West, TX in April. However, an effort to better coordinate the work of three federal agencies was stalled thanks to the government shutdown. Now that the agencies are all functioning again, we hope they will meet their target deadlines for recommending new policies to improve the safety of facilities handling or storing large quantities of hazardous chemicals.

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The Government Is Open Again…Now What?

Just after midnight on Oct. 17, President Obama signed legislation that avoided a dangerous default and reopened the government after the third-longest government shutdown in history. Under the terms of the deal, the government was funded through Jan. 15, 2014, and the debt limit was extended until Feb. 7, 2014.

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A Three-Month Review of the President's Climate Action Plan: Strides Made in Implementing Rules, Threats Emerge in Congress

In June, President Obama revealed his climate action plan, delivering on a promise he made during his State of the Union Address in February that he would take action to address climate change if Congress failed to do so. The plan outlines near- and long-term policies that the Obama administration will implement to address climate change: cutting carbon pollution, preparing the U.S. for climate change impacts, and leading international efforts to take action.

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