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EPA

EPA’s New Rule Aims To Cut Toxic Emissions

Leaders in the fight for clean air from Louisiana’s Cancer Alley joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator Michael Regan on April 9 in Washington, D.C., for the announcement of a new rule governing air toxics-spewing chemical plants. The rule is intended to prevent cancer in surrounding low-income and minority communities. The announcement represents a milestone for environmental justice in communities historically overburdened by air-toxics pollution. But a growing number of proposed industrial projects threaten to further pollute the mostly low-income Black neighborhoods along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Arizona Court Cancels EPA’s Approval Of Dicamba Pesticide

In a win for farmers and endangered plants and wildlife, an Arizona district court has revoked the approval of the destructive pesticide dicamba, saying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broke the law when it allowed it to be on the market. Dicamba-based weedkillers have been widely used on soybean and cotton crops genetically engineered by Bayer (formerly Monsanto), a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity — who brought the lawsuit — said. “This is a vital victory for farmers and the environment,” said George Kimbrell, legal director for the Center for Food Safety and counsel in the case, in the press release.

Ex-EPA Scientist Calls Pollution Regulations A ‘Smokescreen’

Minneapolis, MN — On January 11, 2024, community members gathered to discuss the future of the Smith Foundry in Minneapolis’ East Phillips neighborhood. The iron-casting facility has been found to violate health regulations, thereby likely threatening the well-being of people living nearby. In November, residents had called for the closure of the foundry after discovering records from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicating that the company had been exceeding Minnesota emission limits of particulate matter since 2018 — without notifying the state. Despite the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) pledging to meet regularly with the community, MPCA authorities were absent from the meeting, citing a “conflict of interest” and a lack of staff.

Victims Of The East Palestine Train Disaster Still Fighting For Their Lives

On February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern Railroad train carrying 150 cars, some containing toxic chemicals, derailed in the small town of East Palestine, Ohio on the border with Pennsylvania. The residents in the immediate area were evacuated but the 100,000 gallons of chemicals, including vinyl chloride, that spilled spread throughout the region. Now, over six months later, many residents still cannot return to their homes. Hilary Flint of Enon Valley, Pennsylvania, the vice president of the Unity Council for the East Palestine Train Derailment joined Clearing the FOG to describe what happened, the failures of the local, state and federal governments to provide what affected residents need and how they are organizing to pressure President Biden to grant Governor DeWine's request for an emergency declaration and more.

Polluters Rely On Old Rhetoric To Block Clean Energy Future

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering proposals aimed at reducing climate-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing coal and gas-fueled power plants. Power plants are the second-largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States, and the pollution standards, which are open for public comment until August 8, will mark a new milestone in climate action. But the United States’ biggest polluters and their political allies are pushing back — just as they have resisted every other landmark shift in the 60-year history of federal air pollution control.

2022 Was A Big Year For Climate Action In The Courts

A pair of climate cases from opposite sides of the country appear to be the closest yet to holding fossil fuel companies accountable in court. Lawsuits filed by Honolulu, Hawaii, and by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have both overcome initial procedural hurdles and are advancing in state courts, despite dogged attempts by lawyers for the fossil fuel firms to punt the cases into federal courts where they hoped to find an easier path to dismissal. And the two cases have each taken a big leap forward in state courts with judges denying fossil fuel defendants’ requests to dismiss the litigation. Earlier this year, a Hawaii state court judge issued several rulings denying oil companies’ motions to dismiss Honolulu’s case, originally filed in March 2020. In a press release, the Honolulu City Council explained, “with these favorable rulings [Honolulu’s] case is now set to become the first in the country to move into a trial phase and begin the all-important process of discovery, where the oil companies must begin opening up files to show what they knew.”

EPA Workers Push Biden To Issue Climate Emergency, Hire Scientists

Workers at the Environmental Protection Agency are calling on President Joe Biden to issue a climate emergency declaration at the same time they’re calling for improvements in staffing and resources for the agency in their next union contract. The largest union representing workers at the EPA, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Council 238—which represents nearly 7,500 EPA employees around the US—voted to declare a climate emergency in May 2022 and are calling on Biden to do the same. AFGE is the largest union representing federal government and District of Columbia employees (currently the membership is about 700,000), though other smaller unions do represent professionals at the EPA.

Indigenous Leaders And Climate Groups Respond To West Virginia vs. EPA

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a rule that limits the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gasses from the power sector using a specific provision of the Clean Air Act. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that existing and planned fossil fuel projects are more than the climate can handle, confirming that without sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use, we are, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says, “on a fast track to climate disaster.” The report also warns investors of stranded fossil fuel assets that will amount to $4 trillion in a world where warming is limited to 2°C, and even more in a world where it is limited to 1.5°C.

SCOTUS EPA Ruling Signals Court Will Strike Down Rules Limiting Profits

On the last day of its term, the Supreme Court handed down a case no less impactful than its shameful ruling a week earlier that overturned Roe v. Wade. In West Virginia v. EPA, the court’s right-wing members confirmed they are in the pockets of the fossil fuel companies. The 6-3 majority sided with coal companies and Republican-led states to restrain the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power to regulate carbon emissions. “Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,’” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote on behalf of himself, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Supreme Court Restricts EPA’s Ability To Fight Climate Crisis

The Supreme Court has restricted the ability of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fight the climate crisis. In a 6 to 3 ruling on Thursday, the nation’s highest court ruled that the Clean Air Agency does not empower the EPA to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants without prior Congressional approval. Yet the decision comes on the heels of a global sweep of early heat waves that have made the necessity of climate action ever more apparent. “Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change,” Justice Elana Kagan wrote in a scathing dissent. “And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions.

EPA Union Seeks Climate Emergency Declaration

The EPA’s biggest union, signaling its dissatisfaction with the White House’s level of action on climate, will ask the Biden administration to declare a national climate emergency and take other ambitious steps on the environment. The declaration of a national emergency would kick-start 123 statutory powers that aren’t otherwise available to the executive branch, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Included among them is the hiring of more climate scientists, engineers, and lawyers at the EPA, a goal shared by both the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238 and the Biden administration. The request represents a marker for the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238 when it sits down with the Environmental Protection Agency on June 13 to negotiate a new contract.

A Climate Wake-Up Call For The Chemical Industry

In 2017, the Trump administration sided with industry lobbyists and rescinded safety rules governing thousands of chemical plants across America. Five years later — after multiple chemical plant explosions in the Houston area — government investigators are telling lawmakers that a lack of federal regulation is heightening the risk of chemical disasters during climate change-related extreme weather events at thousands of facilities nationwide. President Joe Biden’s administration is considering issuing a new rule regulating such facilities — but not until next summer. Chemical companies and industry groups have already sicced their lobbyists on the EPA to stop the new rules, arguing that, despite all evidence to the contrary, their members are well-prepared for disasters and will only be made more vulnerable by new regulations.

Socialist Planning Could Reverse Sober Findings In New UN Climate Report

The latest UN Climate Report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability released Feb. 28 once again urges immediate action and outlines the catastrophic effects that humanity faces with the continued lack of meaningful action. Compiled by 270 researchers from 67 countries, it outlines the impacts that are already unfolding and how these disasters will increase even if warming is limited to the 1.5 Celsius temperature threshold above pre-industrial levels. The world is currently at around 1.1 C warming and we are already experiencing unprecedented heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods, and extreme weather events that has led to 84 million climate refugees and increasing food and water insecurity. These issues will only multiply as the world warms.

Ruth Etzel Speaks Out Ahead Of EPA Whistleblower Hearing

The US Environmental Protection Agency is failing to protect children by ignoring poisons in the environment and focusing on corporate interests, according to a top children’s health official who will testify this week that the agency tried to silence her because of her insistence on stronger preventions against lead poisoning. “The people of the United States expect the EPA to protect the health of their children, but the EPA is more concerned with protecting the interests of polluting industries,” said Ruth Etzel, former director of the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP). The harm being done to children is “irreparable”, she said. A hearing will be held on 13 September in which several internal EPA communications will be presented as evidence, including an email in which EPA personnel discuss using press inquiries about Etzel as “an opportunity to strike” out against her. Among many witnesses to be called to testify are several former high-level EPA officials.

WildEarth Guardians To File Suit To Protect Clean Air From Fracking

Santa Fe, NM—WildEarth Guardians announced this week its intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its failure to crack down on smog pollution in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico, where unchecked fracking is taking a dangerous toll on clean air. “Despite the Biden administration’s promises to put public health first, the oil and gas industry is getting a free ride to pollute the Permian Basin and undermine clean air,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians. “The Environmental Protection Agency needs to stop dragging its feet and start helping people.” In the face of booming oil and gas extraction, levels of ground-level ozone–the key ingredient of smog–have violated federal health standards in southeastern New Mexico.
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