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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Lack of Transparency in Oil and Gas Oversight Still a Major Problem

The Department of the Interior's management of oil and natural gas resources suffers from a lack of public access to information, according to government investigators and numerous public interest groups. This lack of openness takes a significant toll on the public's ability to challenge Interior's decisions and impedes accountability. Reforms to the Interior Department's oil and gas management policies announced in recent months have not made transparency a key element, casting doubt on their potential to bring about stronger oversight.

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Lack of Transparency Afflicts Oil Spill Response

Adding insult to injury, the worst oil spill in U.S. history has been plagued by a lack of transparency that is hindering the response to the disaster and may impact responses to future spills. Reports of restrictions on media access to the spill site, the delayed disclosure of information on dispersants, and frustrations with BP's overall lack of transparency have confounded efforts to hold the company and government agencies accountable.

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EPA Finally Discloses What's in the Oil Spill Dispersants

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally disclosed the chemical identities of the ingredients of the dispersants being used on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Until now, the public was only provided the limited information available in the dispersants' material safety data sheets (MSDS). The MSDSs for the dispersant, known as Corexit, were produced by the dispersant's manufacturer, Nalco Company. The MSDSs provide very little information, hiding chemical identities by labeling them "proprietary" or omitting them entirely.

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As EPA Takes Action, Trade Secrets Continue Threatening Health and Safety

Unified Agenda The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a significant step toward making more chemical health and safety information available to the public even as trade secrets claims continue to conceal such information elsewhere. A new EPA policy will reject most industry claims that chemical identities included in health and safety studies are trade secrets. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry continues to use trade secrets privileges to thwart attempts to disclose chemical information related to the BP oil spill and controversial natural gas drilling operations.

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EPA and DHS Order BP to Stop Hiding Oil Spill Information

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took steps to increase the transparency of the response to BP's catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil company's actions have been criticized for failing to disclose or monitor important information about the spill, including the quantity of oil erupting into the Gulf, the potential health impacts of the oil and the chemicals used to disperse it, and water and air quality information. The actions by EPA and DHS, although belated, are needed, welcome, and hopefully portend a higher standard for transparency that is enduring and comprehensive, not limited to responses to colossal disasters.

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Could These Corporate Failures Have Been Prevented?

In recent months, failures at BP's Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico facility injured and likely killed 11 oil rig workers and spawned an unprecedented environmental catastrophe; an explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 miners; and a recall of millions of Toyota vehicles occurred after an acceleration defect was linked to injuries and deaths. These events have a few things in common, not the least of which is that they all illustrate a governmental failure to effectively regulate business activity and protect the public.

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Long-Delayed Senate Climate Bill Considers Need for Transparency

Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) recently introduced long-awaited Senate climate change legislation. The bill seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, matching targets set in a House bill passed in 2009. The bill includes several provisions calling for transparent and participatory policies, especially relating to measures that would create new financial markets for buying and selling the right to pollute. How well such transparency would be implemented is a major question, and the success of the emissions reductions may depend on the level of openness that is built into the nation's climate change policy.

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BP Won't Say What Toxics It's Dumping Onto Its Oil Spill

British Petroleum has in fact gone "Beyond Petroleum" and is now spilling tons of toxic chemicals known as dispersants onto their colossal oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, hoping to break up the slick before it reaches shore. However, BP refuses to disclose what chemicals are in the dispersants they are dumping into the Gulf. The chemical identities are considered trade secrets. Without knowing the chemical identities, we may never know what additional insults BP has left us to clean up for years to come.

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Factory Farms Take Federal Money, Refuse Disclosure of Pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday announced plans to expand a program with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) that uses tax money to help factory farms capture their methane pollution and burn it for energy. Before EPA and USDA spend more money on factory farms, the very least these facilities can do is agree to tell us how much they are polluting. Big Agriculture has successfully fought an attempt to measure the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from these large factories, known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). With these giant livestock operations in position to reap financial rewards from climate change policies, the public needs to know what they are emitting in order to measure progress and ensure accountability.

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EPA Puts More Environment Online

Several new online tools developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are now available to provide the public with a variety of environmental information collected by the agency. The tools provide access to information about enforcement actions against polluters in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and across the nation, plus information about health risks from toxic chemicals and the ongoing oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. These online information access tools follow the recent release of the EPA's Open Government Plan, which makes public access to information a priority for the agency.

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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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