The oil boom in North Dakota's Bakken region has led to more crude oil being transported by train throughout the country and, consequently, a rise in oil train accidents. On Aug. 29, California passed new legislation that would help emergency response officials prepare for potential disasters. The legislation would require rail companies to submit emergency response plans and inform officials about the movement of crude oil and other hazardous materials through the state. The bill dovetails with related federal efforts to boost rail safety.
Each ton of carbon pollution from cars, planes, and power plants comes with costs. It harms our environment and threatens our health, it drives climate change, and it negatively impacts our economy. The White House has attempted to develop a standard estimate of these costs, called the “social cost of carbon,” for agencies to use in analyzing the benefits of rules designed to reduce carbon emissions. In an Aug. 25 report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) validated that effort.
Contrary to industry advertising, a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) finds that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other electronic nicotine delivery systems pose significant public health hazards because of toxins emitted from the devices. The agency recommends that countries adopt e-cigarette rules to prevent misleading marketing of the products and to educate the public about the potential health risks involved.
When it comes to protecting drinking water, fracking companies have just one federal rule to follow – get a permit if they are using diesel. But a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) indicates that many drillers can’t even abide by this simple requirement.
Not content with restricting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect public health and the environment (see http://www.foreffectivegov.org/blog/congresss-latest-assault-epa), anti-regulatory members of Congress have broadened their sights to encompass the entire scope of federal agencies that provide public protections and safeguard the American people.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequately monitoring more than 172,000 wells used to enhance oil and gas drilling and dispose of drilling wastewater, according to a July 28 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report, based on two years of research, identified several significant problems with EPA's program to protect groundwater from drilling chemicals and wastes.
On Aug. 2, the City of Toledo, Ohio issued a water use ban for roughly 500,000 residents after chemists detected toxic levels of microcystin in the public water supply. Microcystin is a toxin produced by harmful algal blooms caused by the overuse of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers. Large amounts of excess fertilizers run off into waterways during rainstorms. Exposure to microcystin can cause diarrhea, nausea, liver dysfunction, and nervous system damage. Beyond the public health risks, harmful algal blooms also negatively impact ecosystems and burden the economy.