New York's Child Safe Products Act failed to make it to the state Senate floor prior to the end of the legislative session last Friday, despite being passed by the New York State Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill would have better protected children by tightening standards on toxic chemicals used in kids' products, from car seats to toys to clothes. New York is one of several states seeking to create stronger chemical safeguards than currently exist at the federal level.
UPDATE (06/27/2014): On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in NLRB v. Noel Canning, unanimously affirming the D.C. Circuit’s invalidation of three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2012. However, the Court split 5-4 on its rationale for the decision.
On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision upholding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to require large industrial sources to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The 7-2 decision represents a major victory for EPA’s efforts to combat climate change.
Forty percent of the highest-risk oil and gas wells drilled on federal lands over the past several years have gone uninspected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), according to a recent Associated Press (AP) analysis. The massive boom in oil and gas drilling on federal and tribal lands, primarily using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques, has resulted in a one-third increase in oil and gas wells since 2007, with a total of more than 100,000 wells.
UPDATE (6/12/2014): California has finalized its long-awaited standard limiting the permissible level of hexavalent chromium (sometimes called “chromium 6”) in drinking water. The standard was set at 10 parts per billion (ppb), equivalent to about five teaspoons of the toxic chemical in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Once the standard takes effect on July 1, California will be the first state to impose a limit on this harmful contaminant in drinking water, taking action even before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
With little fanfare late last month, the Office of Management and Budget released its 2014 draft annual report to Congress on the costs and benefits of regulations. The report, required under the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act, summarizes the benefits and costs of major federal rules – those anticipated to have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more and subject to review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at OMB – for the 2013 fiscal year, as well as for the previous decade. The report finds that once again, the nation achieved significant health, safety, environmental, and other benefits at a relatively low cost.
On June 6, the interagency working group that President Obama formed in the wake of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion released its report to the president, conveying its recommendations for improving chemical facility safety and security. The report outlines many of the significant problems facing chemical facility safety in this country, including limited information sharing, incomplete and incompatible regulations, and the need for greater use of safer technologies. The recommendations on these problems point in the right direction but leave the details to the individual agencies to resolve as they move forward on possible regulations and policy changes.