On Dec. 9, North Dakota announced a new rule for rail shipments of highly volatile crude oil from the Bakken shale formation. The standard issued by the North Dakota Industrial Commission is intended to respond to spills, fires, and derailments that have injured and killed people and harmed the environment.
UPDATE (June 30, 2015): Yesterday, New York State formalized its fracking ban, concluding a seven-year public health and environmental impact study. Governor Cuomo’s administration released the Findings Statement that found that fracking’s risks are too high and officially bans the practice within the state. New York becomes the first state with significant shale gas resources to ban fracking.
UPDATE (June 2, 2015): A Maryland bill establishing a two-and-a-half year moratorium on fracking became law on May 30. Both the state House and Senate passed the bill by veto-proof margins. Republican Governor Larry Hogan declined to either sign or veto the bill, allowing it to go into effect. Along with temporarily banning fracking, the bill also requires the state to create fracking regulations that will go into effect when the ban is lifted.
Just before Thanksgiving, the White House quietly released the fall 2014 Unified Agenda, updating the status of public protections under development by agencies across the federal government. The fall agenda indicates that agencies expect to finalize several key health and safety rules in 2015, but other important protections will progress much more slowly or have been pushed far into the future.
Almost five years after first proposing to strengthen the national air quality standard for ozone pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Nov. 25 that it intends to again propose a more health-protective air quality standard for ground-level ozone pollution. Breathing ozone, also known as smog, can cause health issues ranging from asthma attacks to early death from heart and lung disease.
In the leading edge of what is expected to be a wave of legislation in the new Congress aimed at undermining the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to set essential public protections, the House of Representatives last week passed two bills that would undermine the agency's ability to advance good, science-based policy and improve public health.
On Saturday, Nov. 15, a toxic chemical leak at a DuPont manufacturing plant outside of Houston killed four workers and hospitalized another, serving as another troubling example of the need for stronger chemical safety standards. The chemical involved in the leak, methyl mercaptan, can cause eye and lung irritation and can be fatal at high levels. Numerous other U.S. facilities use and store this chemical, including those featured in a new interactive map by the Center for Effective Government.