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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Clarity on Clean Water Protection Is Coming, But How Long Will it Take?

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced they were moving forward with a much-needed rulemaking to clarify which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Enforcement of the law has been hindered by years of uncertainty about agencies' regulatory jurisdiction over certain wetlands and waterways. On Sept. 17, agencies submitted a draft joint rulemaking for interagency review that would provide greater clarity and help ensure vital waters are covered by the CWA. However, protracted review processes and industry pushback could further extend the uncertainty and leave some waters unprotected.

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The Debt Ceiling: Why You Should Care and How It Came to Be

A self-inflicted economic disaster looms on the horizon. Failure to approve a routine measure allowing the U.S. to manage its finances and pay the bills it already owes would have devastating effects. Increasing the debt ceiling is the only way to avoid a destabilization of the American economy.

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Chlorine Gas Is a Major Risk across the Country, but Needn't Be

Currently, over 2,700 facilities nationwide store large amounts of toxic chlorine gas, putting millions of Americans at risk of serious harm in the event of an explosion or leak. In the past 15 years, over 600 accidents injuring almost 800 people have occurred at these facilities. However, safer alternatives are available, and many facilities have already turned to them, showing that these alternatives can be commercially successful. Check our new interactive map to see if there are facilities with chlorine gas in your community.

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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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