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Health

EPA Rule Change Would Expose Teenagers to Highly Toxic Chemicals

By Farron Cousins

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking aim at two rules designed to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals by workers under the age of 18. The agency has filed notices with the federal register of its intent to either tweak or outright eliminate these protections for underage workers.

The first rule the agency is looking to change is one the Obama administration adopted in 2015 which prohibited farmworkers under the age of 18 from handling and dispersing certain pesticides deemed too toxic for public sale.

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Politics
Wisconsin State Capitol. Joseph / Flickr

Anti-Regulation Law Favored by Kochs Could Nix Environmental Safeguards in Wisconsin

By Steve Horn

The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) has sued Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers for what it alleges was a state education agency's violation of an anti-regulatory law—long pushed by the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers—known as the REINS Act.

Wisconsin's version of REINS, or Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny, is a piece of legislation heavily lobbied and advocated in favor of for over half a decade by Americans for Prosperity, a policy and electioneering advocacy front group founded and funded by the Koch Family Foundations and Koch Industries.

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Energy

Pennsylvania Suspends Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction

By Sharon Kelly

Pennsylvania suspended permits for Sunoco Pipeline on Wednesday, LP's $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 pipeline project, after finding that the company committed "egregious and willful violations" of state laws.

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Yaqui community gathering. Andrea Arzaba / CC BY-SA 4.0

Mexico's Standing Rock? Sempra, TransCanada Face Indigenous Pipeline Resistance South of Border

By Steve Horn

Since Mexico privatized its oil and gas resources in 2013, border-crossing pipelines including those owned by Sempra Energy and TransCanada have come under intense scrutiny and legal challenges, particularly from Indigenous peoples.

Opening up the spigot for U.S. companies to sell oil and gas into Mexico was a top priority for the Obama State Department under Hillary Clinton.

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Energy
Ryan McKnight / Flickr

FERC, Which Rejected 2 Gas Pipelines Out of 400 Since 1999, to Review Approval Policy

By Steve Horn

The new chairman for the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Kevin McIntyre, says the agency plans to review its permitting process and procedures for natural gas pipelines.

FERC has come under fire for serving as a "rubber stamp" for these pipelines, which these days mostly carry gas obtained via the horizontal drilling and injection technique known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." The agency has rejected only two out of the approximately 400 pipeline applications received since 1999, when it last updated its gas pipeline review process. That's according to a report published in November by Susan Tierney, currently employed by economic consulting firm Analysis Group and former member of the Obama-era Department of Energy's Natural Gas Subcommittee.

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U.S. Bank building in downtown Bismarck, North Dakota. Randy Hoffman / Flickr

U.S. Bank Quietly Joins $4B Deal With Dakota Access Owner After Declaring End to Oil and Gas Pipeline Loans

By Sharon Kelly

At a shareholder meeting this past spring, U.S. Bank announced it would be the first large American bank to completely stop issuing loans for oil and gas pipeline construction projects.

Environmental groups, indigenous activists and divestment advocates hailed U.S. Bank's announcement as a triumph.

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Joe Pounder, president of Definers Public Affairs, at Web Summit 2017 in Portugal. Web Summit / Flickr

Definers Public Affairs, Group Known for Stalking and Harassing Climate Advocates, Hired by EPA to Run Media War Room

By Graham Readfearn

A Republican-aligned research group with links to a campaign to stalk and intimidate environmental groups, journalists and campaigners has been handed a $120,000 contract to help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shape its media coverage.

Virginia-based Definers Public Affairs was given the 12-month "no bid" contract to provide "news analysis and brief service" to the EPA, as reported by Mother Jones.

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Study: Babies With Low Birth Weights More Likely Near Pennsylvania Fracking Sites

By Steve Horn

A new study published in the journal Science Advances has concluded that babies born within two miles of sites of fracking for natural gas in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale basin are more likely to have low birth weights.

Researchers from Princeton, the University of Chicago and UCLA analyzed a decade of Pennsylvania birth data from 2004 to 2013—reviewing 1.1 million birth certificates—and concluded that those babies born to mothers living in close proximity to fracking sites are more likely to weigh under 5.5 pounds at birth. Specifically, the study concluded that babies born within a kilometer (just over half a mile) of fracking sites are 25 percent more at risk of low birth weights, which comes with other health effects.

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Climate

Here's the Teacher-Friendly Antidote to Heartland Institute's Anti-Science School 'Propaganda'

By Ashley Braun

On a Monday morning at the end of October, Rob Ross asked a group of Earth scientists and educators a question: How many of them had received copies of the Heartland Institute book Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming?

You could feel an immediate sense of frustration in the air. Roughly half of them raised their hands. The Heartland Institute is a Chicago-based think tank that rejects the scientific consensus that humans are changing the climate and has received funding from the conservative billionaire Koch brothers and fossil fuel industry.

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