Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax returns with the highest reported income in 2013. The media widely reported the surprising news that these highest-income taxpayers saw their average tax rate jump to 22.9 percent in 2013, up from 16.7 percent in 2012.

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Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new report on bleach manufacturing facilities examines the problems with using chlorine gas and puts forward safer alternatives now in use.

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U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. However, several states saw a spike in emissions, including Rhode Island and Alaska

The Center for Effective Government has updated our Right-to-Know Network database, where you can find the 2014 TRI data and search for toxic emitters in your community.

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Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.


UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production on public and tribal land. The rule would contribute to the Obama administration’s strategy for cutting methane emissions while also reducing waste of this non-renewable resource.

Methane naturally occurs in oil wells and is released during the drilling process. Well operators can capture the gas at the well site and send it to processing plants where it is refined and sold as natural gas. But many operators instead burn the gas onsite (which causes air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions) or simply vent it. Methane has several times the global warning potential of carbon dioxide, so venting the gas significantly contributes to climate change.

Additionally, state, federal, and tribal governments lose out on royalty revenue when methane is vented or flared. In 2013, an estimated $330 million worth of methane was leaked, vented, or flared from federal and tribal lands – money that could have gone toward repairing infrastructure and improving schools.

The BLM rule would require operators to adopt available technology that would reduce flaring and venting while also correcting leaks in infrastructure. Additionally, it would establish guidelines for paying royalties to governments when gas is flared.

Unlike the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule, which only addresses new and modified sources, BLM’s rule would cover all new and existing oil and gas infrastructure. Existing sources, including wells, pipelines, and compressor stations, contribute 90 percent of the industry’s methane emissions.

We applaud BLM’s efforts to curb climate change and protect our natural resources.


UPDATE (Aug. 20, 2015): Earlier this week, the Obama administration announced its proposed rule to cut future methane emissions from oil and gas production. Methane contributes 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities that are warming the earth, so the rule is a step towards meeting our climate change targets.

However, disappointingly, the rule does not apply to existing wells, pipelines, refineries, and other infrastructure, which together contribute 90 percent of current total methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The oil and gas industry produces almost a third of all methane emissions, so exempting existing facilities is problematic.

The rule also targets the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that pollute the air and contribute to smog formation, but as with methane, it only cuts them at new and modified oil and gas sources, and a limited number of existing sources.

Last week the, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to reduce methane emissions from landfills, which contribute nearly one-fifth of all U.S. methane emissions.

To date, however, there are only voluntary guidelines for limiting methane from the agriculture industry. Agriculture produces 36 percent of total methane emissions and is the single largest source of methane in the U.S. 


On Jan. 14, the Obama administration announced its strategy to reduce oil and gas industry methane emissions by 40-45 percent over the next decade. This is a key element of the administration's Climate Action Plan for reducing greenhouse gases and curbing climate change.

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New Report, Interactive Map Show that People of Color and the Poor Are More Likely to Live Near Chemical Hazards

The Center for Effective Government released a new report and interactive map to coincide with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The report demonstrates that the struggle for social justice is far from over. Across the country people of color and the poor are disproportionately impacted by chemical facility hazards, and in many areas, the amount of inequality is profound.

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New Report: CEO Stock(ing) Stuffers

10 companies shaved $182 million off their taxes, thanks to 20-year-old 'performance pay' loophole

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National Microbead Ban Moves Forward in the House

After states like Illinois and California took the lead on banning microbeads in cosmetics and consumer products, leaders in the U.S. House and Senate are moving forward with national legislation curbing the sale of products that contain the tiny plastic particles. Microbeads can pollute water and hurt wildlife and human health.

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The Tax-Dodging Marriage of Viagra and Botox

Throughout the fall, Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, has been courting Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox. Pfizer was not attracted by Allergan's wrinkle-free face or full lips, but by its Irish citizenship.

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What the GOP’s Putting Under Corporate America’s Tree

This year-end tax package is a grab bag of gifts for corporations and a lump of coal for working families.

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Treasury and IRS Make Inversions More Difficult

The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) acted last week to make corporate inversions more difficult for companies looking to swap their American address for a lower tax rate.

Corporate inversions allow U.S. corporations to register as a foreign corporation in order to lower the taxes they owe. But the transaction occurs largely on paper— meaning the location of many of a company’s employees, the markets the company serves, and the products themselves are unlikely to change significantly.

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