Of snow jobs and smog

Yet another giveaway of the public interest for corporate special interests. EPA has removed several chemicals from its list of smog-forming volatile organic compounds subject to Clean Air Act regulation. The NRDC has examined the delisting of one of those -- tertiary butyl acetate, or TBAC -- and found that the EPA has distorted basic chemistry and compiled a dubious economics analysis to justify deregulating this chemical that causes ground-level ozone, which is harmful to the lungs. Find out more here.

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New Technology Lowers Mercury Emissions by 90 Percent

While EPA continues to argue that a 90 percent reduction in mercury emissions at coal-fired power plants would be infeasible, a Kansas coal-fired power plant successfully lowered mercury emissions by 90 percent, according to the emissions control maker, ADA-ES. The company announced Nov. 18 that a month-long test of activated carbon injection at Sunflower Electric Holcomb Station successfully lowered mercury emissions of Western coal.

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Nanofunding, nano-effort

Today's Washington Post reports that EPA is awarding $4 million in grants to study the health and environmental effects of nanomaterials, the tinier than tiny materials that form the basis of nanotechnology. The nanomaterials pose serious risks: Measuring three-billionths of an inch or less, they are small enough to enter the lungs and perhaps even be absorbed through the skin. Experiments in animals have shown that once in the body, they can travel to the brain and other organs. So, the EPA's grants mean that it's doing enough, right?

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More Indication that Polluters are Being Let Off the Hook

The Environmental Integrity Project recently released a report showing that civil penalties against polluters are at a 15-year low, with penalties dropping to $56.8 million in 2004 compared to $96 million in 2003. Enforcement of major environmental legislation has declined sharply in the past three years, contributing to the steep decline in civil penalties. Whereas the Department of Justice filed 152 lawsuits in federal courts against polluters in the last three year of the Clinton administration, in the first three years of the Bush administration only 36 such lawsuits were filed.

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What Bush means for the environment

Be sure to check out this excellent report on the prospect of further Bush administration rollbacks of the environment. Unlike most press coverage, this story goes the extra step and addresses how the Bush administration can have far-reaching consequences not just through rollbacks of individual rules but also through broadly applicable technical policies, such as cost-benefit analysis.

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EPA rollback is killing children

Tens of thousands of children are poisoned every year from accidentally ingesting rat poison. EPA responded in 1998 with a rule that added a bitter taste to the poison and a dye to make it more obvious that a child has ingested rat poison. The Bush administration promptly reversed course in 2001 and repealed these requirements, even though they do not make rat poisons any less effective at killing rats.

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So where are the anti-regulatory zealots now?

Funny how the critics of regulation only seem to care about regulations of the environment, public health, consumer protection -- the areas that hit business in the pocketbook -- but they don't scream their anti-regulatory screeds when the FCC goes on crusades to protect us all from such ghastly offenses as the baring of Janet Jackson's nipple. Now comes word that some local ABC affiliates are declining to participate in the network's Veterans Day airing of Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg's over-praised mix of treacle and WWII battlefield realism.

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Costs outweighing benefits of cost-benefit analysis

Interesting tidbit in Cindy Skrzycki's Washington Post column about OHSA. Charged with protecting the men and women of America who work for a living, OSHA has become, during the Bush administration, the black hole of government: nothing comes out of it, certainly not light. As we found in a recent report, the Bush OSHA has failed to produce a single economically significant protection of workplace health or safety.

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The coming attacks on the environment

Don't miss the New York Times's coverage of the administration and GOP Congress's plans for weakening and dismantling environmental policy. The article identifies several specific targets:

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The coming attacks on regulatory policy

Election day results portend a new wave of attacks on the ability of the people to use their federal government to serve the public interest. More Destruction of Public Safeguards. The Bush administration mounted an all-out assault on regulatory safeguards in its first term. An exhaustive catalogue of these attacks is available in our reports Special Interest Takeover: The Bush Administration and the Dismantling of Public Safeguards and The Bush Regulatory Record: A Pattern of Failure.

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