Elizabeth Warren: GOP ‘Ringing the Dinner Bell’ for Lobbyists

Sen Harry Reid and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (photo: Greg Nash/Getty)
Sen Harry Reid and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (photo: Greg Nash/Getty)


Tim Devaney | The Hill | Reader Supported News | May 18, 2016

en. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and fellow Democrats are vowing to block Republican efforts to roll back controversial regulations.

Warren on Wednesday slammed the GOP for connecting policy riders that would overturn regulations to must-pass government funding bills.

In recent years, Republicans have turned to policy riders in an attempt to cut off regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, Labor Department and other federal agencies.

“It’s like ringing the dinner bell for lobbyists,” Warren said. “They are swarming this place, because they have all sorts of goodies they want to sneak into” the government spending bills.

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Teflon Toxin Contamination Has Spread Throughout the World

PFOA has spread throughout the world. (photo: The Intercept)
PFOA has spread throughout the world. (photo: The Intercept)


Sharon Lerner | The Intercept | Reader Supported News | April 19, 2016

n recent months, PFOA, the perfluorinated chemical formerly used to make Teflon, has been making news again. Also known as C8, because of its eight-carbon molecule, PFOA has been found in drinking water in Hoosick Falls, New York; Bennington, Vermont; Flint, Michigan; and Warrington, Pennsylvania, among many other places across the United States. Although the chemical was developed and long manufactured in the United States, it’s not just an American problem. PFOA has spread throughout the world.

As in the U.S., PFOA has leached into the water near factories in Dordrecht, Holland, and Shimizu, Japan, both of which were built and operated for many years by DuPont. Last year, the Shimizu facility and part of the Dordrecht plant became the property of DuPont’s spinoff company, Chemours. Just as it did in both New Jersey and West Virginia, DuPont tracked the PFOA levels in its workers’ blood in Holland and Japan for years, according to EPA filings and internal company documents. Many of the blood levels were high, some extremely so. In one case, in Shimizu in 2008, a worker had a blood level of 8,370 parts per billion (ppb). In Dordrecht in 2005, another worker was recorded with 11,387 ppb. The national average in the U.S., in 2004, was about 5 ppb.

Water contamination was also a problem in both locations. In Shimizu, PFOA was detected in 10 wells at the site, with the highest level of contamination measuring 1,540 ppb. Groundwater in Dordrecht, which is about an hour south of Amsterdam, was also contaminated, with 1,374 ppb of PFOA at one spot near the factory in 2014.

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Methane Leaks Erase Climate Benefit of Fracked Gas, Countless Studies Find

Fracking site. (photo: Eric Gay/AP)
Fracking site. (photo: Eric Gay/AP)


Joe Romm | ThinkProgress | Reader Supported News | February 18, 2016


racking is not good for the climate. Or, to put it a tad more scientifically, “By The Time Natural Gas Has A Net Climate Benefit You’ll Likely Be Dead And The Climate Ruined,” as I wrote two years ago.

New satellite data and surface observations analyzed by Harvard researchers confirm previous data and observations: U.S. methane emissions are considerably higher than the official numbers from the EPA. Significantly, the EPA numbers are mostly based on industry-provided estimates, not actual measurements.

While this new study doesn’t attribute a specific source to the remarkable 30 percent increase in U.S. methane emissions from 2002–2014, many other studies have identified the source of those emissions as leakage of methane from the natural gas production and delivery system.

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Rick Snyder Is Done. He’s Toast.

Michigan governor Rick Snyder. (photo: Carlos Osorio/AP)
Michigan governor Rick Snyder. (photo: Carlos Osorio/AP)


Charles Pierce | Esquire | Reader Supported News | January 25, 2016

Rick Snyder is done. He’s toast.


t’s really time for Governor Rick Snyder to go. It’s impossible to imagine him continuing to do his job if the e-mails yet to come about the poisoning of the city of Flint reflect as badly on his administration as today’s batch do. Therein we find negligence, incompetence, buck-passing ,and ass-covering in the extreme. It’s plain that political considerations were paramount when the news of what had happened in Flint first reached Lansing.

In the e-mails, Muchmore wrote that U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, was “engaged in his normal press hound routine” after the congressman issued a press release noting he’d asked the EPA to help the state deal with the crisis. Muchmore added that then-mayor Dayne Walling “went out on a CYA effort due to the election.” They also show doubts about returning Flint to the Detroit system and even questioning if the reports of higher lead levels are accurate. “They can’t reconnect to DWSD even if they wanted to as they sold the connector line,” Muchmore wrote Sept. 26. “And, especially with the new rate increases in Detroit, their citizens would be less able to pay than they already are.  Now we have the anti everything group turning to the lead content which is a concern for everyone, but DEQ and DHHS and EPA can’t find evidence of a major change per Geralyn’s memo below.”

Later, of course, under the expanded emergency-manager law that was a pet project of Snyder’s from the time he was inaugurated, Mayor Walling was replaced by an “emergency manager”—the city has had four of them since Snyder expanded the law—under whom the switch from the DWSD to the Flint River was completed. By the time the crisis was brewing underground, the elected local officials of the city of Flint had virtually no power at all. It’s hard to imagine that this crisis would have come to the point to which it has come if the people responsible for it actually had to face the voters. At the very least, Snyder may have to have a chat with Congress about the whole thing.

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The EPA’s Silent, Guilty Role in the Flint Water Crisis

Flint, Michigan. (photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Flint, Michigan. (photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)


Rebecca Leber | New Republic | Reader Supported News | January 24, 2016

Michigan’s governor has borne the brunt of the blame, but there’s plenty to go around.


ichigan Governor Rick Snyder in recent weeks has come under intense pressure over the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which was precipitated two years ago when his administration, in an effort to cut costs, changed the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The move led to a dangerous increase in lead in the water supply; just 5 parts per billion is cause for concern, especially for children, but Flint’s tap water has had five times that amount. And yet, officials insisted until late last fall that the water was safe for its 100,000 residents to drink.

In response to a public outcry, Snyder has released nearly 300 pages of emails that reveal how poorly state agencies responded to the slow-moving crisis. But while Snyder, a Republican, and his appointees have borne the brunt of the outrage, it turns out the Environmental Protection Agency fell down on the job, too.

Donald Trump, who’s promised a “tremendous cutting” of EPA funds if elected president, said this week the agency is “really guilty of” the Flint “horror show.” For once, Trump is not entirely wrong.

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Report: ‘Every Major US City East of the Mississippi’ Is Underreporting Heavy Metals in Its Water

Alissa Walker | Gizmodo | Reader Supported News | January 23, 2016

ust when the news about lead poisoning the drinking water of Flint, Michigan, couldn’t get any worse. A report from The Guardian says many US cities are systemically and purposely downplaying the amounts of lead and copper in municipal water systems.

A scientist who was part of an Environmental Protection Agency taskforce disclosed documents to The Guardian which shows how water boards are distorting tests to make their water appear safer, a practice confirmed by an anonymous source:

The controversial approach to water testing is so widespread that it occurs in “every major US city east of the Mississippi” according to an anonymous source with extensive knowledge of the lead and copper regulations. “By word of mouth, this has become the thing to do in the water industry. The logical conclusion is that millions of people’s drinking water is potentially unsafe,” he said.

Specific cities named included Detroit and Philadelphia, and the entire state of Rhode Island.

The documents in question were obtained via FOIA by Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou, who sat on the Environment Protection Agency taskforce that recently proposed revisions on the federal rules for lead. Lambrinidou told The Guardian that more rigorous oversight will reveal more offenders: “There is no way that Flint is a one-off.”

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Feds: VW Rigged Emissions Systems on Porsches, Audis Too

A Greenpeace activist holds a banner during a protest in VW's home of Wolfsburg, Germany, September 25, 2015. (photo: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters)
A Greenpeace activist holds a banner during a protest in VW’s home of Wolfsburg, Germany, September 25, 2015. (photo: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters)


Keith Laing | The Hill | Reader Supported News | November 3, 2015


he Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accusing German automaker Volkswagen of additional violations of federal air pollution emission standards with vehicles the company designed to cheat the system.

The agency said Monday that Volkswagen installed software on diesel models of its 2014-2016 cars that violates the Clean Air Act by activating required air pollution protections only during emissions tests, including cars marketed under its Audi and Porsche brands.

Volkswagen was previously accused of installing the “defeat devices” on about 482,000 diesel vehicles since 2008.

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Colorado mine owner accuses the EPA of lying in Capitol hearing


RT America | September 11, 2015

Todd Hennis, the owner of the Gold King Mine, whose cave-in led to the Animus River in Colorado becoming so polluted that it turned bright orange, says that the EPA is more accountable for the spill then they have admitted on Capitol Hill. He speaks with Anya Parampil about how the government has not taken responsibility for the damage done by the leak from the mine.

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Animas River Spill: EPA Knew Mine ‘Blowout’ Was Possible, Say Documents

Animas River in Colorado. (photo: AP)
Animas River in Colorado. (photo: AP)


Associated Press | Reader Supported News | August 23, 2015

nternal documents released late on Friday show managers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were aware of the potential for a catastrophic “blowout” at an abandoned mine that could release “large volumes” of wastewater laced with toxic heavy metals.

The EPA released the documents following weeks of prodding from media organisations. The agency and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater on 5 August, as they inspected the idled Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado.

Among the documents is a June 2014 work order for a planned cleanup that noted that the old mine had not been accessible since 1995, when the entrance partially collapsed. The plan appears to have been produced by Environmental Restoration, a private contractor working for EPA.

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Greed Dies Hard in a Poisoned Land

Emersen Sud, 3, crouches along a bank of the Animas River, in Durango, Colo., Aug. 14, 2015. A recent accident that leaked a toxic yellow plume of sludge from the Gold King mine into the Animas River heightened a debate here over the future of this region’s old mines. (Mark Holm/The New York Times)

Emersen Sud crouches along a bank of the Animas River, in Durango, Colorado, August 14, 2015. A recent accident that leaked a toxic yellow plume of sludge from the Gold King mine into the Animas River heightened a debate over the future of this region’s old mines. (Photo: Mark Holm/The New York Times)


William Rivers Pitt | Truthout | August 19, 2015

When Arizona Sen. John McCain met with the Navajo Nation’s tribal government on Saturday at their capital in Window Rock, Arizona, after arriving in a big black SUV, he believed he would be spending the day observing the commemoration of Code Talkers Day. This was not the case. A group of Navajo activists, incensed at the damage done to the Animas River by a toxic chemical spill from an abandoned mine, confronted the senator. Rather than address their concerns, McCain scuttled out a side door, dove into his SUV and sped down the road with the activists sprinting after him shouting, “Get off our land!”

Activists from the Navajo Nation are furious over the Animas River spill, and for good damn reason. The EPA, while attempting to evaluate the toxicity of the long-abandoned Gold King mine, inadvertently released three million gallons of hideously polluted water into the river, turning it a sickly orange color. The lead level of the released water was at least 12,000 times higher than normal, and also contained extremely high levels of beryllium, mercury, cadmium, iron, copper, zinc and arsenic. The people of the Navajo Nation rely on the river for drinking water, farming, livestock and medicine. It is a lifeline, and now it is dangerous to the touch.

The impact of the spill is not just being felt by the people of the Navajo Nation. That three million gallon orange slick of poison wended its way down the Animas River for some 300 miles until it arrived at and entered Lake Powell, a large reservoir that feeds into the Colorado River, and is a source of drinking water for many cities in the Southwest, including Las Vegas. The EPA and other government agencies are desperately deploying a “Be calm, all is well” argument, but a “team” has been formed to monitor the ongoing damage. Cold comfort indeed.

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