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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Commentary: Did OMB Block Worst-Case Estimates of Oil Spill?

A working paper by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling has ignited a controversy about the role of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in controlling information about the spill. The working paper alleges that, soon after the April 20 explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig, OMB blocked plans to disclose the government's worst-case models of the spill. The administration's response to the allegations leaves several key questions without clear answers, which can only be resolved by disclosing the drafts and feedback through which these critical documents were developed.

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EPA Plans for Greater Openness in Coming Years

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will incorporate greater transparency, accountability, and community engagement throughout its operations over the next five years, according to the agency's recently released Fiscal Year (FY) 2011-2015 Strategic Plan. The new strategic plan is the agency's first developed under the Obama administration, which has made increasing government openness a high priority.

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On Transparent Stewardship of Natural Resources, U.S. is #11

A new study of natural resource transparency in 41 countries finds the U.S. among the top countries but not leading the pack. Brazil and Norway scored the highest marks, while countries such as Russia, Colombia, and Kazakhstan also ranked higher than the U.S.

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More Information Sought on Cell Phone Industry Influence on FCC

In an article in the current edition of OMB Watch's Watcher, we discuss serious concerns about the extent of the wireless communications industry's influence over regulators. Following San Francisco's move to inform the public about potentially dangerous exposures to cell phone radiation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – the agency in charge of regulating cell phone radiation levels – changed its website. The FCC deleted a suggestion to consumers to seek phones with lower radiation levels (known as SAR values), and added a lot of industry-speak downplaying the legitimate concerns raised by public interest groups. Now the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is demanding to know why the FCC made the changes and what role the wireless trade association might have played.

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Concerns over Industry Influence Mount in Cell Phone Right-to-Know Fight

In an effort to ensure mobile phone buyers can make informed choices, the city of San Francisco recently passed an ordinance requiring retailers to label cell phones with the amount of radiation the devices emit. In retaliation, a wireless industry trade group announced it will no longer hold its trade shows in San Francisco and filed a lawsuit to block enforcement of the ordinance. The fight has caused right-to-know advocates to raise concerns over the extent of the wireless industry's influence over regulators.

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EPA Seeks to Enhance Public Access to Chemical Data

Mountaintop The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed several changes to its regulation of chemicals that should improve the public's access to crucial information. The improved data collected under the proposed rule will help the agency and the public identify potential chemical risks and take action to manage those risks.

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EPA Pushing Pollution Data Out to Public with New Tools, Earliest TRI Release Ever

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week released the preliminary 2009 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data, the earliest data release in the history of the program. The TRI program tracks toxic pollution from thousands of facilities nationwide and is considered one of the most successful environmental programs and a cornerstone of environmental right to know. The preliminary data are now available for the public to download and analyze, maintaining TRI as a vital tool for holding businesses accountable for their pollution and driving changes to prevent pollution.

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Senate Committee Approves Leaving Millions at Unnecessary Risk

Yesterday the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) failed to take action to protect the public, instead choosing to let millions of Americans remain at unnecessary risk of chemical disasters. The committee members chose to gut a House-passed bill that would have reduced the consequences of a terrorist attack on chemical plants and water treatment facilities. The committee also refused to consider a similar bill from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Both the House bill and the Lautenberg bill would have protected workers and communities by driving the adoption of safer, cost effective technologies that eliminate the threat of an intentionally released cloud of poison gas from a chemical plant.

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Chemical Security Bills Reduce Risk, but Secrecy Weakens Program

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced two related chemical facility security bills that would reduce the consequences of a catastrophic accident or terrorist attack at many of the nation's chemical plants and drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. The legislation addresses many of the issues raised by a coalition of environmental and openness groups, but it fails to provide the accountability and transparency needed to ensure the government's chemical security program would actually make facilities and communities safe.

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Obstructions Continue To Hinder Media Access to Oil Spill

Despite statements from the Coast Guard and BP supporting media access to sites related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, journalists continue to be threatened, intimidated, and denied access as they attempt to cover what many consider to be the worst environmental disaster in the history of the United States. Considering the unprecedented and unknown impacts of the spill, the public is relying heavily on unimpeded journalists to uncover the causes, responses, and consequences of the disaster.

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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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