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A Double Homicide on the House Floor

I am used to the House of Representatives passing unwise bills that would make it difficult for agencies to use science to protect the environment and public health and safety. I understand that wealthy special interests are spending millions of dollars to advance their anti-regulatory agenda in Washington. But even I was shocked that a terrible legislative proposal could grow even worse. But that’s what happened in the House on July 28. Read More

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Labeling Added Sugar: 3 Reasons to Support FDA’s Proposed Rule to Include the Percent Daily Value

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was amending its proposed rule on updating the Nutrition Facts label to include a recommended maximum percent daily value (%DV) for added sugar. The original proposed rule, announced in March 2014, included a line for added sugar separate from total sugar but provided no context for people to understand the implications of the amount of added sugar in a given product the way they could for protein, fat, and sodium. Read More

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Ozone in Houston: Combatting Misinformation and Protecting Public Health

As I’ve been following, the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of updating the national ambient air quality standard for ozone pollution. The standard is likely to be strengthened below the current standard of 75 ppb, due to the compelling scientific evidence linking ozone to adverse health impacts at this concentration. The EPA has proposed a standard between 65 and 70 ppb, narrowing the range advised by its independent science committee of 60-70 ppb, and the agency will issue a final rule by October. Read More

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Don’t Be Deceived by ALEC’s Special Interest Agenda

When the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) arrives in San Diego on July 22 for its annual meeting, the agenda will include efforts to undermine clean energy and climate policies that are widely supported by the people of California. Yet the public won’t know what is discussed at the meeting because the doors will be closed to most media, despite the presence of lawmakers from around the country. Read More

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New Report Illuminates the American Chemistry Council’s Efforts to Undermine the Chemical Policies that Protect Us

I always assumed that if chemicals were in use, they were safe. As a child, I’d play in the grass despite pesticide warning signs and never thought about my water bottle’s material. If there was evidence that the chemicals were harmful, we wouldn’t be allowed to use them, right? This is, of course, how it should work. But the reality is that special interests can get in the way of public health protections when it comes to our chemical policies. My new report shows just how harmful that influence can be. Read More

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Exxon Responds to Revelation that Company Recognized Climate Risks as Early as 1981

The Union of Concerned Scientists broke the news yesterday that Exxon employees were considering how climate change should factor into decisions about new fossil fuel extraction as early as 1981. The reactions, especially from ExxonMobil, have been as interesting as the original revelation. Read More

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Why We Need an Executive Order on Political Spending: An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

You’ve had a great week. With the Affordable Care Act upheld and nationwide marriage equality now the law, you must feel like celebrating. But wait!  Why not carry this momentum and take another step that would increase the equality and well-being of Americans?  I’m talking about an executive order asking government contractors to disclose their political spending. Read More

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Bad Policies Should Not Get a Free “Ride” on Spending Bills

I try hard not to be cynical about Congress. I believe that in the House and Senate, many men and women of good will and their staffs work hard to advance policies that they believe will benefit the people they represent. Our elected representatives may disagree about what the best solutions are. But they are motivated by the desire to do good, not ill.

That sentiment is being tested as the House and Senate vote on a series of spending bills to pay for government agencies and other expenses in the coming fiscal year. Read More

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What Does the Pope’s Climate Encyclical Mean?

Pope Francis released his much-anticipated encyclical on humans’ stewardship of our planet earlier today. While my colleagues and I spend most of our time talking about science and policy, the pope’s message has given us an opportunity to reflect on our own moral reasoning around climate and energy issues as well as the intersection of faith and science.

Update, June 23: My colleague Mike Jacobs, a senior energy analyst, added his thoughts in a separate post about Pope Francis’s plug for electric co-cops and other clean energy issues in the encyclical. Read More

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Is Fracking Safe Now? What the EPA’s Fracking and Drinking Water Study Really Says

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited (and heavily scrutinized) report on drinking water impacts from hydraulic fracturing. The report has made headlines, but anyone following the science around fracking impacts shouldn’t be surprised by the results—that hydraulic fracturing has had adverse effects on drinking water sources in several cases, and that risk for future contamination of drinking water exists through several pathways.  Yet, yesterday’s headlines read very differently. Read More

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