Monday, June 20, 2011

Western Coal Pollution: EPA Deal Would Speed Haze Reduction

Long-delayed regulations to reduce toxic emissions from coal plants, mandated by the Clean Air Act, are once again being considered for implementation. The laws, which would require new scrubbing equipment at coal plants in four western states would cost about $1.5 billion a year while returning over $8 billion annually in productivity gains due to reduced sicknesses. Make no mistake; those that oppose clean air laws have nothing but contempt for the health of the American public. Their only concern is to maximize profit in a dirty pollution-producing industry. These efforts to repel environmental regulations are another manifestation of private industry strategy of privatizing profits and externalizing costs. The public and, to a large measure, the public treasury bears the cost of environmental degradation and disease-causing pollution from dirty coal. The resulting sickness and pollution that results simply brings in more commerce for businesses while the government (people) pick up the tab (medicare, EPA). Pollution is a bad deal for the American people and sensible laws that seek to reduce pollutants and global warming should be swiftly and proactively implemented.

Canadian Health Experts Announce 5 Ways to Protect Children From Toxic Chemicals

It's mind-boggling to grasp all of the toxins that people are exposed to these days in daily life. These toxics are dangerous for everyone but especially young children and pregnant mothers. The Canadian Partnership for CHildren's Health and Environment has just issued guidelines for avoiding some of the most common toxins that can be found in people's homes.

Supreme Court: Climate Policy Should Be Set By Actual Experts In Climate Policy

The Supreme Court ruled in a 8-0 decision against several states and the city of New York that sought to reduce greenhouse gas pollution using the nuisance theory to allow federal judges to intervene against major polluters. The court denied federal judges this power in arguing that climate policy should be set by climate experts, such as the EPA. However, the court also suggested that state legislatures and judges could act to supplement environmental regulations that the EPA cannot or will not enforce. The states rights issue could very well cut both ways, challenging conservatives oft-stated support for the tenth amendment.

AP Bombshell: U.S. Nuclear Regulators “Repeatedly” Weaken Safety Rules or are “Simply Failing to Enforce Them”

"Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes – all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered in the AP’s yearlong investigation. And all of them could escalate dangers in the event of an accident."

The NRC is not only in bed with the nuclear industry but has been cheating on the American public in other ways as well. Weak regulations and a willingness to automatically renew leases for old nuclear plants with 20-year extensions is one aspect of the problem but now there is ample evidence that the agency fails to enforce some of the most basic regulatory requirements for operators. In so doing, the NRC is toying with the health of millions of Americans so that their pals in the nuclear industry can save a few bucks by not performing basic maintenance designed to ensure the safety of the public from unnecessary and potentially catastrophic nuclear contamination.

AP Study: US Nuclear Regulators Weaken Safety Rules

Think Big: For labor law, we have to go back to the future

This piece details the graduation reduction in the legal power of progressive labor law and its effects on unions and the strength of the middle class over the past 50 years. Laws that protected unions' right to strike and also to participate in secondary or sympathy strikes have been eviscerated with news laws such as Taft-Hartley that severely restricted the ability to apply leverage against employers in disputes. Other laws undermined negotiated agreements between employers and unions that prohibited many forms of direct action and protest from unionized workers. The result is a country and labor force with a steep decline in middle class prosperity with few options available to reverse this trend. The author contends that labor must reinvent itself, and reinvigorate the public debate, in order to reclaim the rights of labor to fully organize and collaborate in actions designed to secure greater bargaining power on behalf of working people.,-we-have-to-go-back-to-the-future?utm

The day the drug war really started

The national frenzy that resulted in 1986 after the sudden death of future NBA star Len Bias unleashed the most severe legislation the War on Drugs has ever seen. Without scientific review and study of the proposed laws, Democrats and Republicans rushed to pass tough legislation. Well, the resulting law was certainly tough, but it was also discriminatory and ended up putting hundreds of thousands of mostly black and hispanic Americans in jail for possession of modest amounts of crack and powder cocaine. The law also instituted a 100-1 ratio for crack that disproportionately affected minorities. That severity ratio was cut to 18-1 in 2010 but is still completely arbitrary. In 1986 the federal prison population was 36,000 and today it's swelled to 216,000, and the war goes on.