How Congress got to yes on toxic chemical reform

Read the full story in The Hill.

Lobbyists, senators and congressional aides can recall the moment when the debate changed.

After years of slogging away at an overhaul of the nation’s toxic chemical laws, the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) in 2013 finally found a partner: Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana.

New report shows importance of Clean Power Plan

Read the full story in The Hill.

Power plant emissions of carbon dioxide have been falling for a decade, even without national regulations. However, further progress could cease in the absence of the Clean Power Plan, whose fate awaits hearings by the Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals.

That’s the conclusion of scenarios modeled by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the “early release” issued last week of its “Annual Energy Outlook 2016.” The scenarios predict that power plant carbon dioxide emissions would be 20 percent lower with the Clean Power Plan than without it.

How expiration dates contribute to the food waste problem

Two recent stories discuss how package expiration dates contribute to the U.S. food waste problem.

In ” The expiration dates on our food could be contributing to a huge environmental problem,” the Washington Post’s Chelsea Harvey reviews the results of a survey by the the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic that asked consumers about how they interpret the “best by,” “use by”, and “expires” dates on food labels.

In “Are you confused by food expiration dates? You’re not alone,” The Guardian’s Dana Gunders discusses two bills recently introduced in Congress to simplify food labeling.

Congress is overhauling an outdated law that affects nearly every product you own

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

Congress has reached agreement on the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. chemical safety laws in 40 years, a rare bipartisan accord that has won the backing of both industry officials and some of the Hill’s most liberal lawmakers.

The Toxic Substances Control Act, which has not been reauthorized since President Gerald Ford signed it into law in 1976, regulates thousands of chemicals in everyday products including detergents and flame retardants. It has come under sharp criticism as ineffective from all quarters, including environmentalists who back stronger federal oversight and chemical companies that are now subject to a patchwork of more stringent rules in some states.

Obama administration announces historic new regulations for methane emissions from oil and gas

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Obama administration on Thursday announced a set of much-anticipated — and first ever — steps to regulate oil and gas industry emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas second only to carbon dioxide in its role in the climate debate.

The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a new rule that will target emissions from new or modified oil and gas wells — and prevent 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by the year 2025, the agency said.

Even in states suing over new climate regulations, coal use is shrinking

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

More than two dozen states have sued over the Obama administration’s signature climate rule, the Clean Power Plan, which seeks to cut back the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions in coming years by shifting away from carbon-intense power sources, like coal, in favor of cleaner forms of electricity generation.

But the arguments unfolding in the federal courts are, in some ways, disconnected from the realities playing out on the ground.

For instance, many of the states that oppose the Clean Power Plan — particularly mid-western ones like Texas and Kansas — are leaders in the wind energy industry, which would be favored under the plan (as would natural gas and solar).

New data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration also highlighted another potential contradiction: Virtually every state suing to block the Clean Power Plan has itself shifted toward burning less coal to generate the electricity its residents need since the year 2007 — in some cases by very large amounts.

Poll: Public supports Clean Power Plan as their states fight it

Read the full story from Midwest Energy News.

Attorneys general in Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri are “out of step” with the majority of voters in their state who support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, according to polling released last week.