Hydrogen Fluoride – A Toxic Chemical in Your Neighborhood?

Across the nation, 167 industrial facilities currently store and use hydrogen fluoride, a dangerous and highly toxic gas, in their manufacturing processes. In the past 15 years, 129 incidents have occurred, causing 100 injuries and five deaths, a high accident rate given the number of facilities. Many of these facilities are located in densely populated areas, and a release of hydrogen fluoride could put millions in danger. However, safer alternatives to this toxic chemical are available. Find out if you live near one of these facilities with a new map by the Center for Effective Government.

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EPA Developing New Standards to Curb Power Plant Water Pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently began finalizing a proposed rule to reduce water pollution from coal-fired power plants and their related wastes. These pollutants include lead, mercury, arsenic, selenium, and other dissolved solids, which are harmful to both human health and aquatic life.

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Congress Continues Efforts to Thwart Climate Change Emissions Limits

On Sept. 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new proposal to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new coal-fired power plants. The Center for Effective Government applauded the steady progress on the rule but warned of likely challenges from climate-change deniers, regulatory opponents, and their allies in Congress. Over the past month, these challenges have appeared in the form of draft legislation and appropriations riders that seek to repeal or severely limit EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fueled power plants under the Clean Air Act.

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E-Gov Spotlight: EPA's Enforcement Database Gets Updated

On Oct. 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a beta 2.0 version of its enforcement and compliance web-based tool. The new version should make it easier for the public to find information on which facilities near their communities violate air, water, and pollution standards. The agency has requested user feedback as it continues to update and fine-tune the site, so we encourage readers to visit the website and provide comments on your experience to the agency.

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Americans Want Safer Chemical Facilities, but the Shutdown Stalled Reform Efforts

A new poll released Oct. 11 found that a majority of Americans want the federal government to require facilities to use safer chemicals and processes to prevent chemical disasters like the explosion in West, TX in April. However, an effort to better coordinate the work of three federal agencies was stalled thanks to the government shutdown. Now that the agencies are all functioning again, we hope they will meet their target deadlines for recommending new policies to improve the safety of facilities handling or storing large quantities of hazardous chemicals.

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Clarity on Clean Water Protection Is Coming, But How Long Will it Take?

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced they were moving forward with a much-needed rulemaking to clarify which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Enforcement of the law has been hindered by years of uncertainty about agencies' regulatory jurisdiction over certain wetlands and waterways. On Sept. 17, agencies submitted a draft joint rulemaking for interagency review that would provide greater clarity and help ensure vital waters are covered by the CWA. However, protracted review processes and industry pushback could further extend the uncertainty and leave some waters unprotected.

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A Three-Month Review of the President's Climate Action Plan: Strides Made in Implementing Rules, Threats Emerge in Congress

In June, President Obama revealed his climate action plan, delivering on a promise he made during his State of the Union Address in February that he would take action to address climate change if Congress failed to do so. The plan outlines near- and long-term policies that the Obama administration will implement to address climate change: cutting carbon pollution, preparing the U.S. for climate change impacts, and leading international efforts to take action.

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Government Shutdown Would Compromise Worker and Public Health

As we creep ever closer to the prospect of a federal government shutdown due to the efforts by some conservative members of Congress to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and attack implementation of our nation’s public health laws, it’s important to understand how a shutdown will impact the health and safety of workers and the public’s health.

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Growing Use of Third Parties to Certify Health and Safety Compliance Raises Troubling Questions

In May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed two rules to protect the public from the risks of formaldehyde exposure. The first rule sets emissions standards for formaldehyde in composite wood products; the second establishes requirements for third-party certifications of products subject to those emissions limits. The use of third-party programs to assess regulatory compliance is growing as agencies try to stretch scarce resources, raising troubling questions about enforcement of important standards and safeguards.

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EPA Withdraws Blocked Draft Chemical Rules, Access to Health Risk Information to Suffer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Sept. 6 that it is withdrawing two proposed rules regarding regulation of chemicals. The first rule would have allowed EPA to require chemical manufacturers to provide more information, both to the agency and the public, on several chemicals of particularly high health concern. The second rule would have clarified EPA’s policy regarding the ability of chemical manufacturers to claim certain chemical information as "confidential business information" (CBI).

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