As a college undergraduate, I majored in meteorology. When you walk into your first college meteorology class, you ask your classmates two questions: 1) Which weather event made you want to be a meteorologist? 2) Do you want to be a broadcast meteorologist or work for the National Weather Service (NWS)? While Americans usually hear a tornado or winter storm warning from meteorologists on television or radio, it is the unseen and unheard professionals at the National Weather Service who issue the warnings. But Sen. John Thune (R-SD) recently introduced a bill with a provision that would have cut weather service jobs and made it harder for the agency to alert the public when hazards arise. Following strong criticism and opposition, the Senate tabled this part of the bill.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed finding that linked airplane emissions to climate change and adverse public health effects, setting the stage for future standards on aircraft emissions. In the past few years, the EPA has moved forward with regulating greenhouse gases from electricity and transportation, which make up 60 percent of all climate change pollution in the U.S. Will it push one more rule through?
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently issued an annual report to Congress that finds the benefits of major standards and safeguards far outweigh their costs. It serves as yet another indicator of the value of public protections and the positive impacts they have on Americans' everyday lives.
On June 14, a natural gas pipeline ruptured and burst into flames near Cuero, Texas, releasing an estimated 165,000 pounds of toxic volatile organic compounds into the air. Nearby residents evacuated their homes, but no one was injured. Still, the accident serves as another reminder of the dangers of transporting natural gas and other hazardous materials.
On May 20, five of the biggest banks in the world pleaded guilty to charges of interest rate manipulation and agreed to pay $2.8 billion in fines for the felonies they committed. Two of the banks, J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup, are U.S.-based. Each has a long rap sheet of recent settlements for their corporate misdeeds, and each has paid large fines and settlements -- nearly $35 billion in the case of JP Morgan Chase. But otherwise, these businesses go on with no reduction of rights or privileges and with no decision makers being sent to prison.
Student loan debt is now the largest contributor to our country’s overall debt burden. The total amount of student loan debt is now more than $1.2 trillion, and on average, students graduate with $30,000 of debt, which can take 20 years or more to pay off.