New California Regulations Lead the Way in Protecting Consumers from Toxic Chemicals

The nation's federal toxic chemicals law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), has a number of significant shortcomings. Among other things, it does not generally require companies to test chemicals for possible health effects before using them in consumer products. And though the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act limits the amount of lead and bans certain chemicals known as phthalates in children's products, it doesn’t restrict the use of other toxic substances in consumer goods. To respond to this gap in addressing the use of toxic substances in consumer products, California adopted new regulations on Oct. 1 designed to create safer substitutes for hazardous ingredients in products sold in the state.

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Levin Bill Would Shutter Corporate Tax Loopholes

Last week, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) introduced the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, which would restrict the use of offshore tax havens by corporations. At a time when corporate profits are high by historic standards, the bill could raise money for vital government programs and reduce the deficit. The legislation is a slimmed down version of the Cut Unjustified Tax (CUT) Loopholes Act of 2013 (S. 268), introduced earlier this year.

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Loopholes in California's New Fracking Legislation Could Allow Drilling to Continue Unabated

On Sept. 11, California lawmakers passed a controversial bill aimed at providing oversight of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil (a drilling process known as fracking). While the new law includes some of the key elements of an effective chemical disclosure policy, last-minute, industry-friendly amendments forced into the bill undermine its ability to protect the health and safety of California residents.

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Justice Department Raises the Standards for the Freedom of Information Act, One Step at a Time

Oversight of how federal agencies implement the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is critical to ensuring the public has robust access to government records. The Justice Department's Office of Information Policy (OIP) recently issued its annual assessment of how well agencies are processing FOIA requests and announced plans to substantially improve its assessment measures next year. The more robust assessment tool will better hold agencies accountable for providing information to the public.

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Growing Use of Third Parties to Certify Health and Safety Compliance Raises Troubling Questions

In May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed two rules to protect the public from the risks of formaldehyde exposure. The first rule sets emissions standards for formaldehyde in composite wood products; the second establishes requirements for third-party certifications of products subject to those emissions limits. The use of third-party programs to assess regulatory compliance is growing as agencies try to stretch scarce resources, raising troubling questions about enforcement of important standards and safeguards.

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EPA Scientists Deem Benzo(a)pyrene a Cancer-causing Chemical

On Aug. 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft revised health assessment of the toxic chemical benzo(a)pyrene (BaP). This chemical is widely found in the environment and in a number of workplaces, and in its assessment, EPA declared that BaP causes cancer.

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Cancel the Flawed F-35 and Free Up Billions for Better Aircraft and Domestic Needs

America's fighter and attack aircraft fleet is aging. Unfortunately, the only real program in place to address this issue – the F-35 "Lightning II" Joint Strike Fighter – is producing overpriced aircraft with fundamental design problems that will make them inferior weapons. The program should be cancelled. America's current fighter and attack jets should be refurbished, and the military should start new programs that are not excessively expensive. This would provide better national security and free up funds for vital domestic programs.

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E-Gov Spotlight: EPA's Climate Change Tool

Climate change has become the largest environmental concern in decades, and transparency and accountability will be critical in providing an effective response to combating it. As we move forward in making new policies related to climate change, it is critical that the public be well informed about the issue. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online tool offering users a means to explore the sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Shedding Light on Political Ads: Database Should Be Comprehensive, Easier to Use

On Aug. 26, the Center for Effective Government joined comments by the Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition and the Sunlight Foundation urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make information about televised political advertisements more accessible. Greater disclosure of political ad spending will strengthen the integrity of our elections by informing voters about who is buying such ads.

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New Clean Water Initiatives Welcome but Highlight Need for More Oversight and Enforcement

August is National Water Quality Month, and efforts to clean and protect water resources have never been more important. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced new initiatives to reduce water pollution and modernize existing clean water programs. In addition, the agency expects to propose improved drinking water standards within the year, according to the latest Unified Regulatory Agenda. Still, EPA has yet to address a number of serious health and safety risks related to water quality.

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