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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$28 Billion Question Mark

The Pentagon has spent almost all of the $28.5 billion in “emergency-response” funds allocated to them by Congress in the year after the September 11th attacks. However, almost nothing is available to the public explaining how the taxpayer’s money was spent. Apparently, even confidential reports to congressional staff leave too many questions about the expenditures unanswered.

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Chemical Security Re-Emerges in Senate

During the last session of Congress, Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) made a tremendous effort to move a Chemical Security Bill that would require chemical plants to assess their vulnerabilities and take steps to reduce the risk they pose to surrounding communities. Unfortunately, due largely to efforts by the chemical industry to oppose the bill, Corzine’s bill was blocked from ever being considered by the full Senate.

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Compromise on Chemical Security

There have been plans to offer Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D-NJ) Chemical Security Act as an amendment to the Senate’s bill to establish a new department of Homeland Security. However, since the homeland bill has been taking so long in the Senate there is a strong probability that no controversial amendments are going to be allowed. Facing such a situation, there is tremendous pressure to water down Sen. Corzine’s bill to make it palatable for everyone. Sen. James Inhofe (R- OK) appears to be the lead for negotiating a compromise with Corzine.

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Different Opinion on Chemical Security

OMB Watch responded to a recent Washington Times Op-ed, entitled "Toxic road map for terrorists" with this letter to the editor. Angela Logomasini ("Toxic road map for terrorists," Op-Ed, 9/4/2002) advocates eliminating public access to risk management plans (RMPs) because it is possible the information could be misused. Perhaps she would agree with some in industry that propose government no longer collect RMPs since the information may fall into the wrong hands.

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Chemical Security Heats Up

Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D-NJ) Signers of the letter included industry groups such as the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers , the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Edison Electric Institute.

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The Need to Reduce Risks Demonstrated

A recent chemical accident reinforced the importance of Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D-NJ) pending legislation, the Chemical Security Act (S.1602). In Crystal City, MO, a hose used to remove chlorine from freight cars ruptured creating a toxic cloud that sickened dozens. The leak began around 9:30 in the morning on August 14, 2002 and was stopped around noon. Even though light wind and steady rain kept the cloud from spreading beyond the relatively sparsely populated area near the leak, hundreds of people were evacuated and over 50 people were treated for exposure.

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Chemical Plant Security Act Approved in Senate Committee

On July 25 the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved S. 1602, a substitute version of the bill originally offered by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) in October 2001, that would require each chemical plant to address its vulnerability to a terrorist attack. Under the bill, plants must submit plans to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing how they will address their vulnerabilities. As this article points out, chemical plants have many hazards that could be removed to make them safer in the case of an accident or a terrorist attack.

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Confidential Interim Report on Chemical Plant Safety Stirs Little Reaction in Congress

In 1999, President Clinton signed the Chemical Safety Information, Site Security and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act (P.L. 106-40), and also directed the Justice Department (DOJ) to conduct a study of site security at chemical plants. An interim report on the study was due August 5, 2000, and the final report was to be completed by August of 2002. DOJ missed the first deadline, offering a lack of funding as the excuse for not getting the interim report out on time.

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Battle of the Bills

The Senate is currently considering two chemical security bills that seem just about as diametrically opposed to each other as two bills could be. Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D-NJ) Chemical Security Act (S. 1602) is scheduled for mark-up this week. Corzine’s bill would require that facilities that pose hazards to their neighbors look for safer processes and adopt them where feasible. Under the act:
  • The EPA and the Department of Justice would identify the highest-priority facilities;

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EPA Likely to Require "Terror Checks" at Chemical Plants

According to Associated Press reports last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may finally begin to require chemical plants to assess their vulnerabilities to a terrorist attack, and then take measures to reduce those risks. While chemical plants have always posed significant risks to communities from “routine” accidents, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 prompted a reassessment of these threats and greater sense of urgency in addressing these risks, and as OMB Watch previously reported here, chemical plants have failed to effectively address the threats on their own.

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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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