Friday Blog Roundup

The Bush administration’s decision to let mining companies dump their waste into waterways is bad news, but bloggers note a few bright spots on the coal-mining scene.

Rob Perks at NRDC’s Switchboard announces that Bank of America “will phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal.” Erik Hoffner at Gristmill notes that in addition to NRDC and Rainforest Action Network, grassroots groups like Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and Coal River Mountain Watch played important roles in this victory.

Also at Gristmill, Kate Sheppard highlights a new PR campaign by the Reality Coalition, which is dedicated to busting the “clean coal” myth, and David Roberts laughs out loud while listening to the Communications VP of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity insisting that “clean coal” really does exist.

Elsewhere:

Matt Madia at Reg Watch alerts us to yet another sinister last-minute move by the Bush administration: stripping employees of several federal agencies of their collective bargaining rights.

Maggie Mahar at Health Beat cautions us to think carefully about what we really mean by “health reform” and to not make President Johnson’s success with Medicare and Medicaid sound simpler than it was.

Andrew Leonard at How the World Works suggests that the Big Three automakers wouldn’t be in such a precarious position if we had national healthcare.

Angry Toxicolgist agrees with the National Research Council’s critique of EPA’s chemical risk assessments, but warns that fixing the problems won’t be simple.

Marianne Lavelle at the Center for Public Integrity’s PaperTrail Blog examines the growth of US greenhouse gas emissions under the Bush administration.

Jennifer Sass at NRDC’s Switchboard compiles examples of Bush Administration budget cuts to key data collection programs that monitor hazardous pollutants in our air, water, food, and even our bodies.

Aman at Technology, Health & Development considers the effects of financial-market meltdown on international philanthropy.

Comments

  1. #1 Tasha
    December 8, 2008

    I loved David Roberts’ post re: Clean Coal. As a sidenote, if the new standard for regulation is going to be “whatever the American people think it is” then by now we should have lead-free toys, actual “freedom of information,” and popcorn butter that doesn’t kill people.

  2. #2 James Goodwin
    December 10, 2008

    I thought that the Angry Toxicologist made an excellent point about the utility (or disutility) of the recent NRC report on improving the risk assessment process. Like the Angry Toxicologist, I agree that improving “backend” solutions to protecting the environment and public health from toxics and pollutants–such as the risk assessment process–will have little value, since the statutes by which toxic chemicals are regulated in the United States are so weak. I recently posted a discussion of this topic on CPRblog. http://www.progressivereform.org/CPRblog.cfm?idBlog=19BF84A3-1E0B-E803-CAA3666276979755. I noted there the more basic problem that these statutes have: they do not compel chemical manufacturers to submit to regulators data about the toxicity of the chemicals that they produce. To address this problem, I proposed that the United States amend the Toxic Substances Control Act so that it incorporates something like the European Union’s REACH program. The REACH program mandates that manufacturers submit data about the basic toxicity of chemicals they produce as part of a universal chemical registration process; chemicals that are not registered are prohibited from being sold in the marketplace.

    It seems clear how the adoption of something akin to the data submission requirements under the REACH program would make the risk assessment process more effective at addressing the risks posed by toxics and pollutants in isolation. My question is: would the adoption of this program’s data submission requirements also help address the Angry Toxicologist’s concerns about the risks posed by synergistic effects of chemical mixtures? If not, how could a REACH-style data submission reqiurement be adapted to address these risks?

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