New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

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 r...

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Feb 4, 2016

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 repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

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. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

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...

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Nuclear Commission Allows Access to Classified Information, Maybe

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published a final rule June 2, allowing individuals or organizations access to classified information on agency licensing activities if they can demonstrate a "need to know." The agency originally published an identical final rule Dec. 15, 2004, but withdrew it after negative comments. The rule amends NRC's regulations (10 CFR 25, 10 CFR 95) governing access to classified information and the procedures for getting the security clearance necessary to handle the information.

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Journalists Find Chemical Plants Insecure

The New York Times recently uncovered startling security flaws at chemical plants in Dallas and New Orleans after a writer "milled about" for some time around the fence line of plants before even being approached by facility security personnel. Reporters have regularly penetrated chemical plant security with great ease, notwithstanding claims by the chemical industry that it is voluntarily improving security. A May 22 New York Times editorial reported on these gaping security holes surrounding chemical plants that use large quantities of the most hazardous substances.

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Appeals Court Overturns D.C. Hazmat Ban

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against Washington, DC (D.C.), on its law requiring that shipment of hazardous chemicals be rerouted around the nation's capital. The three-judge panel released its unanimous opinion May 3, overturning a lower court's decision to uphold the ban. The city may either appeal the panel's opinion to the full appeals court or return to the lower court for a hearing on the law.

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Chemical Security Remains an Unaddressed Problem

An April 27 panel of government officials and security experts told the Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that chemical security remains a looming problem that the federal government refuses to address. The same day the House Committee on Homeland Security proved that point by rejecting an amendment to improve security related to shipments of dangerous chemicals. Also the same day, President Bush called for development of new oil refineries on old military bases but did not address the existing gaps in chemical security.

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Appeals Court Puts D.C. Hazmat Ban on Hold

A federal appeals court granted CSX an emergency stay to prevent D.C. from implementing a new law prohibiting hazardous cargo rail shipments near the U.S. Capitol. On Monday, May 18, the District Court had upheld D.C.'s ban, prompting CSX to file an immediate appeal and seek the emergency injunction. The court also ordered Washington, DC, and the Sierra Club, another plaintiff in the case, to file briefs by Friday, May 22.

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Homeland Security Won't Remove Hazmat Signs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced April 7 that it will drop a proposal to remove warning placards from railcars carrying hazardous materials that pose a toxic inhalation risk. The decision came after firefighters and other first responders warned that removing the signs could endanger those transportation workers and emergency personnel who respond to accidents involving hazardous materials, and communities through which the shipments travel. DHS was considering the removal of placards due to terrorism concerns.

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Disclosure Helps Chemical Security

The Wisconsin county of Waukesha has addressed chemical safety and security concerns with reporting and disclosure requirements stronger then those established by the federal government. The county has long used public disclosure of risks and hazards as a means to reduce and manage risks from toxic chemicals. A recent congressional report supports the county's approach concluding that reporting and disclosing chemical inventories and associated hazards promotes risk reduction.

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Judge Upholds D.C. Hazmat Ban

On April 18, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan upheld a new Washington, DC, law prohibiting hazardous cargo rail shipments near the U.S. Capitol. Sullivan said that the District has a right to protect itself from an accident involving hazardous chemicals, because the federal government has failed to do so. CSX, the rail company challenging the District's new law, immediately appealed the ban on April 19th and won a ruling blocking the ban, which was scheduled to take effect April 20. The federal appeals court stated that it needs more time to review the legal issues surrounding the ban.

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Take Action: Chemical Security Long Overdue

A recent accident at a Texas oil refinery reminds us of the need for Congress to pass chemical security legislation that identifies hazardous chemical-using facilities and requires company plans both for reducing chemical hazards and improving site security through safer materials or processes wherever feasible.

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Texas City Refinery Explosion Verifies Need for Safer Chemicals

Statement by Working Group on Community Right to Know, OMB Watch Project Hazardous chemicals at BP Amoco’s Texas City refinery exploded early Wednesday afternoon, March 23, killing 14 and injuring over 100. The massive explosion also destroyed buildings and vehicles, and shook residents’ homes up to five miles away.

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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