UPDATE: Freedom Industries President Faces Criminal Charges for West Virginia Chemical Leak

The FBI has filed criminal charges against Freedom Industries President Gary Southern for allegedly making false statements regarding January’s chemical spill into the Elk River. The FBI’s complaint charges Southern with bankruptcy fraud, making a false oath in a bankruptcy proceeding, and wire fraud. According to the complaint, “Shortly after the leak and discharge of MCHM into the Elk River was discovered on January 9, 2014, Southern engaged in a pattern of deceitful behavior, which included numerous false and/or fraudulent statements about his role at Freedom, his role in the sale of Freedom to Chemstream, and his knowledge about conditions at the Etowah Facility.” If Southern is found guilty on all counts, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

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Freedom of Information Act Reform Prevails over Last-Minute Holds

In the final days of the 113th Congress, the Senate successfully passed bipartisan legislation to reform the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The measure prevailed after several senators placed holds on the bill, temporarily blocking a vote. The last hold, by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), was lifted Monday afternoon, and the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent. The House, which already passed a version of the legislation, now has a handful of days to approve the Senate bill and send it to President Obama for his signature. 

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Outgoing Maryland Governor Proposes Strongest Fracking Protections in the Nation

Maryland may soon join neighboring West Virginia and Pennsylvania by allowing fracking in the state. Outgoing Governor Martin O’Malley announced that he will open the doors to drilling companies as long as they follow strict safeguards for protecting public health and the environment.

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400 Richest Americans Paid Same Effective Tax Rate as a Family Earning $105,000

The 400 Americans with the highest incomes paid roughly 18 percent of their earnings in federal income taxes in 2010, down from just under 20 percent in 2009, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Of the 400 elite taxpayers in 2010, 37 paid an effective tax rate of less than 10 percent.

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Fall 2014 Unified Agenda: What Health and Safety Standards Can We Expect in the Year Ahead?

Just before Thanksgiving, the White House quietly released the fall 2014 Unified Agenda, updating the status of public protections under development by agencies across the federal government. The fall agenda indicates that agencies expect to finalize several key health and safety rules in 2015, but other important protections will progress much more slowly or have been pushed far into the future.

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EPA's War on Pollution: Agency Tackles Smog Standard to Improve Our Health

Almost five years after first proposing to strengthen the national air quality standard for ozone pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Nov. 25 that it intends to again propose a more health-protective air quality standard for ground-level ozone pollution. Breathing ozone, also known as smog, can cause health issues ranging from asthma attacks to early death from heart and lung disease.

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Verizon Disputes Our Report Without Backing Up Its Claims

Last week, my colleague Sarah Anderson and I published Fleecing Uncle Sam, which examined large corporations that paid their CEOs more than they paid in federal corporate income taxes.

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Congress’s Latest Stealth Attack on EPA Standards – Restrict Expert Scientific Advice

In the leading edge of what is expected to be a wave of legislation in the new Congress aimed at undermining the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to set essential public protections, the House of Representatives last week passed two bills that would undermine the agency's ability to advance good, science-based policy and improve public health.

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Mapping DuPont's Deadly Chemical Leak

On Saturday, Nov. 15, a toxic chemical leak at a DuPont manufacturing plant outside of Houston killed four workers and hospitalized another, serving as another troubling example of the need for stronger chemical safety standards. The chemical involved in the leak, methyl mercaptan, can cause eye and lung irritation and can be fatal at high levels. Numerous other U.S. facilities use and store this chemical, including those featured in a new interactive map by the Center for Effective Government.

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EPA’s War on Toxic Pollution

A central theme of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) recent re-election campaign was attacking the Obama administration’s so-called “war on coal.” This framing was an attempt to stigmatize the critically important efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce the impacts on public health and the environment of burning coal in power plants and heavy industry. In fact, EPA is conducting a war on the health impacts caused by pollution and industrial waste, using science and technology as its weapons.

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