Peer review guidelines: Sneak attack, yet again

Late one Friday afternoon in late December -- the week before Christmas, no less -- OIRA finally released the long-awaited final version of its peer review guidelines. As the Information & Access team discusses here, the final guidelines make only modest changes to a faulty policy designed to burden the process of generating the science and other information that will become the basis of sensible regulation.

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Listeria: How the food industry gets away with murder

Be sure to check out the latest report from the Consumer Federation of America: “Not ‘Ready to Eat’: How the Meat and Poultry Industry Weakened Efforts to Reduce Listeria Food-Poisoning.” It’s the harrowing story of the Bush administration reversing course from the Clinton administration and weakening efforts to protect the public from Listeria, a deadly foodborne pathogen, in order to serve its friends in the food industry.

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Hit and Run: Environment

  • What a way to leave EPA: outgoing EPA Administration Mike Leavitt released regulations allowing U.S. farmers who grow certain crops to continue using methyl bromide, a farm chemical that depletes the ozone and causes cancer. The chemical was scheduled for world-wide phase-out under the Montreal Protocol, but the new EPA regs mean a 2 million pound increase in 2005. [AP, NRDC]
  • The LA Times reports on the Pentagon's efforts to exempt itself from environmental laws:

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Endangered species in danger from Bush

Apparently both rightwing Congressmen and the Bush administration want to gut the Endangered Species Act. Maybe the administration plans to kill it with the classic death by a thousand cuts. Step one: The Bush administration said Friday it will allow developers to complete construction and other projects even after belated discoveries that the work could endanger protected species.

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Who needs this "environment" after all?

The AP is reporting that USDA Undersecretary Mark Rey is touting some anti-environmental plans to come:
  • cutting down more trees in the national forests ("thinning" them);
  • doing something to the Endangered Species Act (strengthening it? yeah, that's it);
  • abandoning the still-wild "roadless" lands (that is, giving states more control over them).

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Hit and run: Reg policy news briefs

  • Over the past several months, a divided NLRB has issued decisions that strip workers of legal protections. In November, employees of temp agencies were barred from organizing with regular employees without both employer and agency permission. Prohibitions on communications between workers expressing displeasure or anger over working conditions were ruled lawful last month, and are no longer assumed to interfere with employee free speech around union activity.

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Hit and run

  • Oh, Crap: The Environmental Protection Agency is close to issuing new guidelines making it easier for sewage authorities to dump partially treated wastewater during heavy rainfalls, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

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Regs Around the Web

  • A coalition of conservation and outdoor industry groups has formally asked the Forest Service to withdraw plans to lease over 20,000 acres for oil and gas drilling in Utah's Uinta National Forest. The leasing would allow industrial development in roadless areas along the Wasatch Front that provide valuable opportunities for hiking, fishing, and hunting, as well as habitat for wildlife such as the Bonneville cutthroat trout and northern goshawk.

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Environment at risk: no joke

The headline may seem alarmist at first, but in light of the Bush administration's record it's actually quite understated: Bush Sets Out Plan to Dismantle 30 Years of Environmental Laws. The Independent has connected the dots -- and the picture that emerges is pretty dystopic: George Bush's new administration, and its supporters controlling Congress, are setting out to dismantle three decades of US environmental protection.

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Say good-bye to another species...

First there was the news -- unsurprising, of course -- that environmentalists envision bad times ahead during the second term of the Bush administration. Bad times are officially here: Interior Department biologists have recommended against adding the sage grouse to the endangered species list, a determination that could wind up benefiting natural gas and oil producers but add to environmentalists' concerns.

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