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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President and Congress Continue to Respond to Citizens United

Earlier this week Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, wrote a blog post defending President Obama's call for legislation restricting foreign corporations from getting involved in federal elections. As evidence, Eisen references news reports that discuss a lobbying campaign on behalf of subsidiaries of foreign corporations.

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Obama Seeks More Lobbyist Disclosure

During President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, he said he came to Washington "to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve. [. . .] That's why we've excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards and commissions." However, as a group of nonprofits have recently noted, in the process of attempting to limit the influence of special interests, the administration has successfully "[excluded] the voices of citizen- and community-based organizations."

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Lobbying and Ethics Reforms Need to be Enforced

On September 14, 2007, President Bush signed the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, a package of lobbying and ethics reforms. However, over two years later, there remains very little enforcement of such rules. According to the Senate's website, there have been a total of 8,281 cases of potential violations of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). Meanwhile, there has been no enforcement on any of the potential LDA violations since 2005, except to send out letters to potential violators.

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Food Safety Agenda Suffers without USDA Appointee

President Obama still has not nominated an undersecretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as Congress Daily reports today. Almost a year into his administration, the Food Safety Inspection Service – the federal agency in charge of making sure meat, poultry, and eggs are safe and labeled properly – is still without a leader.

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CRS Report on Lobbying Rules

Last week, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report asserting that the Obama administration's rules covering federally registered lobbyists have "already changed the relationship between lobbyists and covered executive branch officials." The report titled, "Lobbying and the Executive Branch: Current Practices and Options for Change," did not explain how those relationships have changed.

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Many Agree Lobbying Policies May Not Actually Reduce Corruption

The most recent effort to curb lobbyists' influence, excluding registered lobbyists from federal advisory panels, continues to get press coverage since first announced in September. The Washington Post predicts that it, "may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama, who also has sought to restrict the ability of lobbyists to get jobs in his administration and to negotiate over stimulus contracts."

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Lawmakers Use Statements Written by Lobbyists, Is Congress Just Lazy?

The New York Times found that more than a dozen members of Congress used almost indistinguishable talking points on health care reform ghostwritten by lobbyists. Lobbyists representing a biotech firm drafted separate language for Democrats and for Republicans. "The lobbyists, employed by Genentech and by two Washington law firms, were remarkably successful in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress."

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FDA May Delay Oyster Rule after Industry Pressure

In response to industry and political pressure, the Food and Drug Administration may be backing away from a regulation that would require oyster sellers to process oysters to kill Vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria that can sicken or kill those it infects. The regulation was supposed to take effect in 2011, but FDA may delay action while it further studies the issue.

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Study Reveals the Focus on Lobbyists Could be Flawed

According to a study conducted by OMB Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), 1,418 federally registered lobbyists "deregistered" with Congress in the second quarter of 2009 (between April and June). This is a considerably higher rate than that seen in the average reporting period, when a few hundred lobbyists terminate their active status. The groups cautioned that this finding does not necessarily mean that the Obama administration's policies on lobbyists are leading to fewer outside influences on government policy, or that those policies are creating more transparency.

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Federal Lobbyists have Increasingly Terminated Their Registrations

OMB Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) have found that lobbyists have began terminating their formal registrations at significantly higher rates than usual. The OMB Watch-CRP press release states that there have been "1,418 'deregistrations' of federally registered lobbyists during the second quarter of 2009, a marked increase for any reporting period during all of 2008 and 2009.

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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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