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In the News OLD

    May 10, 2022Faith leaders call on EPA to strengthen chemical disaster rule

    Over 100 faith leaders and organizations sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan today, urging the agency to strengthen and expand its Risk Management Plan (RMP) rule, which is intended to prevent chemical disasters at high-risk facilities nationwide and is currently being updated. Chemical releases, fires, and explosions are shockingly common in the United States. In just ten years, there have been over 1,500 reported chemical releases or explosions at facilities regulated under the RMP rule, causing 17,000 reported injuries and 59 reported deaths. But deadly chemical incidents could be prevented if RMP facilities were required to transition to safer processes, faith leaders state in the letter. Their calls echo those of health professionals, security experts, and members of Congress who have also demanded meaningful reforms to the RMP rule in recent months.

    Apr 26, 2022EPA faces pressure to tighten chemical disaster rules

    Pressure is mounting on EPA to strengthen oversight of chemical facilities to better prepare them for disaster risks at the sites. Experts, former agency leaders and lawmakers are calling on EPA to tighten loopholes and beef up its risk management plan, or RMP, which instructs certain facilities to develop contingency plans in case of a crisis. Those sites, which handle high-risk chemicals, are vulnerable to climate impacts and other events that can imperil their surrounding communities and environment. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said last month that the agency plans to update the RMP and issue a new rule by this September. Now, EPA is seeing an uptick in calls for the regulations to address a range of concerns, stemming from environmental justice to national security.

    Apr 22, 2022More Than Half of Dollar Store Items Tested Contain Toxic Chemicals

    In the seven years since the Campaign for Healthier Solutions published their initial report on toxic chemicals in dollar store products, Bravo has seen “light years” worth of progress in addressing the issue. While 53 percent of products tested still contained chemicals of concern in 2022, that number was 80 percent of 164 products tested in 2015. Further, when the campaign has gone back and tested items that previously tested positive for lead, they have found that they tested negative the second time.“They are not going to claim that it was us,” Bravo said, “we’ll claim that it was us.” 

     

    Apr 21, 2022The cost of toxic products? Just $1

    Discount retailers often promise shoppers they can buy household necessities for under a dollar, but too often there’s a toxic price to pay, according to a report released last week. More than 225 products — from baby toys to microwave popcorn to non-stick cookware — purchased from so-called “dollar stores” in 2021 were tested for adverse chemicals. Researchers with the Campaign for Healthier Solutions and the Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff Lab found chemicals of concern in more than half of them. Since 2015, the Campaign for Healthier Solutions has been testing dollar store wares for chemicals like lead, which can damage children’s brains and harm their growth and development, and phthalates, which are endocrine-disruptors that can harm reproductive and cognitive development and have been linked to higher rates of childhood cancer.

    Apr 21, 2022Groups push Congress to pass climate package before Memorial Day

    A coalition of more than 20 climate, labor and social justice groups is planning a nationwide mobilization to push Congress to pass robust climate legislation before Memorial Day, according to details shared exclusively with The Climate 202. Manchin, who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committeesaid in late December that he could not support the roughly $2 trillion package amid rising consumer prices and growing federal debt...But Michele Roberts, national co-coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, urged lawmakers not to let Manchin strip any of the climate provisions from the version of the bill that passed the House in November. "All of these pieces in totality … must be voted on and passed and not negotiated at all," Roberts told The Climate 202. "Enough is enough."

    Apr 20, 2022Health Experts and Healthcare Workers Call for Strong Chemical Safety Safeguards

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is updating the Risk Management Plan (RMP) Rule, a policy meant to protect community members who live and work near high-risk chemical facilities. In a new letter, hundreds of health professionals are calling on EPA to set the strongest possible standards, demanding reforms that bring chemical-safety rules in line with the demands of both science and justice. While more than 200 million people in the U.S. live, work, or attend school near an RMP-covered facility, the threat these facilities pose is more severe for low-income households and communities of color, who are more likely to live near the fence line of one or more hazardous facilities. 

    Apr 12, 2022Testing finds toxic chemicals in 50% of dollar store goods

    Products sold at dollar stores may be inexpensive, but a new report from the Campaign for Healthier Solutions also found high rates of toxic chemicals in the budget brands, raising questions of environmental justice. The consumer advocacy group purchased 226 products from Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Dollar General, Five Below and 99 Cents Only Stores in seven states and Ontario, Canada, and tested a total of 635 product components for toxic metals and endocrine-disrupting chemicals like flame retardants, bisphenol A and its substitutes, phthalates and PFAS, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.The results showed that half of the items had one or more chemicals of concern.“Many families rely on dollar stores for affordable toys and other products for kids,” said José Bravo, national coordinator of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions. “With their high profit margins, dollar stores must do more to ensure that all of these products are safe.” One of the more surprising products where tests revealed the presence of toxic chemicals was children’s headphones.

    Apr 12, 2022Harmful chemicals found in toys and canned food at US discount stores

    An alarming number of products purchased at US dollar stores, including many children’s toys, contain harmful chemicals, according to a report released today. Researchers tested 226 products purchased at five popular retailers for chemicals, including phthalates and lead, and found that 120, or more than half, had at least one chemical of concern. Among the products that tested positive were colorful baby toys and Disney-themed headphones.“As a parent, I should be able to buy a product without expecting to poison my child,” said Jose Bravo, national coordinator at the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, a coalition that calls on dollar stores to phase out hazardous chemicals from their products.

    Apr 12, 2022Hazardous Chemicals Present in Kids’ Products at Dollar Stores, Report Finds

    A new product screening report released today by the Campaign for Healthier Solutions and the Ecology Center Healthy Stuff lab found hazardous chemicals of concern in children’s products sold by the leading dollar store brands in the US. “Many families rely on dollar stores for affordable toys and other products for kids. With their high profit margins, dollar stores must do more to ensure that all of these products are safe,” said José Bravo, National Coordinator of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions. Tests revealed the presence of lead, phthalates, toxic flame retardant chemicals, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) components in colorfully-labeled children’s products at Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Dollar General, and Five Below. Lead was found in Disney and Marvel themed kids’ headphones at Five Below and Dollar Tree, a plastic baby toy at Dollar Tree, and 99 Cents Only Stores’ private-label earbuds. Ortho-phthalate plasticizers were found in children’s hair accessories and toys at Five Below. Fake teeth and lips sold at Dollar Tree and Dollar General were found to contain PVC, a dangerous plastic that can leach multiple hazardous chemicals, such as phthalates and heavy metals.

    Apr 8, 2022The Promise of the Environmental Justice For All Act: NRDC Expert Blog

    The Environmental Justice for All Act (EJ for All Act) is an essential federal legislative effort to begin remedying the long history of environmental racism and injustice in the United States, including the cumulative and disproportionate pollution burdens threatening communities of color, low-income communities, and Native/Indigenous nations and communities across the country. Importantly, this landmark bill has been developed in close partnership with leaders in the environmental justice movement. The extensive public input process that informed the EJ for All Act’s creation has produced legislation uniquely shaped by the same people and communities that will benefit directly from its policy improvements. Accordingly, the EJ for All Act recognizes that meaningfully improving the lives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color requires transformative change led by those on the frontlines. As described by Michele Roberts, National Co-Coordinator of the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, “This is legislation that our affiliates see themselves in.”

    Apr 4, 2022The Just Transition Alliance is hiring a Program Assistant!

    JTA is seeking a self-motivated and committed Program Assistant to join our team. The Program Assistant will play a key administrative support role, supporting our programs and providing general administrative support. Strong candidates will demonstrate exceptional time-management and enjoy working within a small, team that is mission- and results-driven and community oriented. This is a full-time position that can be remote or based in San Diego, CA. 

    Mar 31, 2022Environmentalists Clash With Industry Over EtO Risk In Chemical Rule

    Environmentalists and state regulators are clashing with industry over the legality of EPA’s plan to reaffirm a stringent risk assessment for the solvent ethylene oxide (EtO) in a chemical sector air toxics rule, with environmental groups defending the assessment and warning industry’s preferred use of a weaker Texas alternative would be unlawful....The IRIS analysis found health risks from EtO far greater than previously thought... The Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform in its March 24 comments also supports use of the IRIS risk assessment, but further presses EPA to address issues it has placed outside of the scope of the current rulemaking.“It is time for EPA to fully follow the science and strengthen the MON emission standards to finally protect communities who live, work, worship, go to school, and breathe air near these chemical plants as the Clean Air Act requires,” the group says. EPA should tighten the rule “by reducing flaring, leaks, and other fugitive emissions to eliminate unacceptable cancer risk and provide an ample margin of safety to protect public health from the cumulative health risks and impacts caused by MON and collocated and nearby chemical and petrochemical sources,” it says. The group also urges EPA to update its “outdated cancer risk policy benchmark and the risk assessment approach to account for the real-world cumulative health harms experienced by communities.”

     

    Mar 7, 2022Congressional watchdog warns of climate threats to chemical plants

    Chemical companies are required by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk Management Plan rule, or RMP rule, to develop programs that help reduce the risk of accidents. There are 10,420 facilities nationwide that are required to submit plans under the rule. A growing threat to these facilities is coming into focus: climate change. More than 3,200 of these sites are in areas where natural hazards like storm surges, wildfires, and flooding are being exacerbated by global warming, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, the U.S. Congress’ investigative arm. In January, more than 70 state and local officials sent a letter to the EPA administrator citing these facts and calling for stricter RMP rules. 

    Feb 22, 2022CEED and EJHA welcome the release of the beta version of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST).

    The Center for Earth Energy and Democracy (CEED) and Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA) welcome the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)'s release of the beta version of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST). This tool is an important step towards ensuring that environmental justice communities are able to receive real benefits from federal programs under the Administration’s Justice40 Initiative.

    Feb 15, 2022Diverse Organizations Across the Country Mobilize in Support of the Environmental Justice for All Act

    28 organizations today joined Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform in expressing strong support for the Environmental Justice for All Act (H.R. 2021), sponsored by Representatives Raúl Grijalva and Donald McEachin. In a letter, they urged the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee to “advance this important legislation quickly to begin remedying the long history of environmental racism and injustice, and cumulative and disproportionate health and environmental impacts, that affects communities across the country.” 

    Feb 3, 2022Delaware offers litmus test for Biden’s EJ plan

    When Dora Williams started wearing a mask last spring to stop the spread of the coronavirus, she noticed a side effect: She could breathe more easily. The 73-year-old retiree has spent most of her life in a 5-mile stretch of Delaware known as the Route 9 corridor. Home to several historic African American communities, the area is circled by interstate highways, a chemical manufacturing plant and other industrial facilities, which residents like Williams say have contributed to persistent health problems. “My granddaughter said to me, ‘When Covid is gone, we’ll still be wearing masks.’ I said, ‘Yeah, we will,’” said Williams, a soft-spoken community activist with Delaware Concerned Residents for Environmental Justice. Last year, President Biden’s home state became the first in the country to set up a committee to carry out the Justice40 Initiative, the president’s signature environmental justice policy calling for 40 percent of federal benefits from climate and energy programs to reach disadvantaged communities. How Delaware implements the plan may set a national precedent, considering that the fate of Justice40 — which was announced through an executive order — and its effects on the energy sector hinge in part on states.

    Feb 2, 2022Disaster at Winston-Salem Fertilizer Plant Is Unacceptable, Unnecessary, and Entirely Preventable

    A fire that erupted Monday night at a fertilizer plant in Winston-Salem, NC continues to burn endangering thousands of people in the area who have had to evacuate or shelter-in-place. The threat of a deadly explosion remains as the fire continues to burn out of control, threatening the health and safety of the nearby communities. This tragic chemical disaster poses unacceptable risk to those who live, work, or go to school near facilities like this, yet they regularly happen all over the United States, despite being entirely preventable.   Communities at the fenceline of the chemical industry in other communities live daily with similar harm and threat due to major gaps in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) federal rules on hazardous chemical storage, use, and industrial facility safety. It’s time for the EPA to prevent these harmful chemical disasters once and for all.

    Jan 31, 2022Strengthening this one rule could keep frontline communities safe from their toxic neighbors

    We grew up in or near predominantly Black communities surrounded by heavy industry. As children in Louisville, Kentucky, and Claymont, Delaware, we knew something was amiss when so many friends and family members developed dense coughs, asthma, cancer, and other diseases. What we didn’t know at the time is that we were among many low-income communities of color across the country suffering from toxic chemical exposure.  For decades our constituents have lived under the constant threat of explosions or toxic releases in our neighborhoods, never knowing what or when the next disaster will be. Parents must weigh the benefits of allowing their children to go outdoors with the risks of being exposed to harsh chemicals. We recently saw air pollution in our communities lead to disproportionate rates of severe illness and death during this pandemic, a trend that has been observed across the country. 

    Jan 31, 2022Local officials call for tougher chemical safety regulation

    More than 70 elected officials from 16 states and territories are urging the US Environmental Protection Agency to toughen and issue a stalled regulation intended to protect communities, workers, and chemical companies from chemical disasters. The risk management plan (RMP) regulation requires 12,000 high-risk chemical producers to examine and institute safe manufacturing processes to prevent accidents and aid emergency responders. The RMP provisions were modified by the Barack Obama administration but weakened by the Donald J. Trump administration

    Jan 27, 2022EPA Under Renewed Pressure To Strengthen Chemical Facility Safety Rule

    EPA is under renewed pressure to significantly strengthen protections under its chemical facility safety rule for communities living near industrial facilities, with state and local lawmakers from more than a dozen states citing environmental justice (EJ) concerns and urging measures beyond those established by the Obama administration. In a Jan. 26 letter, more than 70 state and local lawmakers urge EPA Administrator Michael Regan to revamp EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) rule in order to better protect communities near chemical facilities. “As elected officials representing many communities across the U.S., we are writing to urge [EPA] to adopt a strengthened [RMP], or chemical disaster prevention rule, to protect communities across the United States,” the legislators from 16 states, territories and local governments write. Stephanie Herron, national organizer with Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA) -- which is an advocacy group that organized and distributed the lawmakers’ letter -- told Inside EPA in response to a question that the lawmakers are weighing in now in order to influence EPA before it proposes the rule. “Now is a critical time to weigh in with EPA on these key provisions” needed to make the rule more stringent, she said.

 

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