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Fracking Chemicals Remain Secret Despite EPA Knowledge of Health Hazards

By Tasha Stoiber

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) knows that dozens of the chemicals used in fracking pose health hazards. The agency not only allows their use, but also lets the oil and gas industry keep the chemicals secret, according to a new report.

Between 2003 and 2014 the EPA identified health hazards for 41 chemicals used in fracking, according to a report from the Partnership for Policy Integrity and Earthworks, based on documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Fracking is the injection of a chemical slurry into drilling sites to free up underground oil and gas deposits. Hazards from the chemicals used included irritation to eyes and skin; harm to the liver, kidney and nervous system; and damage to the developing fetus.

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Energy
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Picking Losers: Why Coal and Nuclear Interests Are Desperate for a Ratepayer Bailout

Without Energy Sec. Rick Perry's scheme to make utility customers buy more expensive electricity from aging, dirty and dangerous coal and nuclear plants, utilities plan to close 75 coal and nuclear units in the next three years, according to federal data compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

A new EWG report, Picking Losers, analyzes data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing that since 2009, solar power capacity has grown by a factor of 89 and wind power capacity has increased sixfold. But coal and nuclear capacity have declined or stagnated, as the rapidly declining cost of solar and wind power—among other factors, including the glut of natural gas and increased energy efficiency—are driving coal and nuclear plants out of the competitive wholesale market for electricity.

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Health
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Breathe Safer Indoor Air With EWG’s New 'Healthy Living Home Guide'

Americans spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors. That's why it's more important than ever to think about indoor air quality and health.

Monday the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a user-friendly online guide to creating a healthier home, focusing on how chemicals in the indoor environment affect health and how making smart choices can make homes safer and greener. Whether remodeling a room, shopping for a new mattress or choosing cleaning products, the guide will help consumers avoid bringing potentially harmful chemicals into their homes.

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Food
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Organic Imports Continue to Rise Alongside Organic Demand

By Colin O'Neil

Organic farming remains a bright spot in American agriculture. The price premiums enjoyed by organic farmers for many staple commodities like soybeans and corn remain higher than conventional prices. Meanwhile, studies show that organic farming practices can improve water quality in areas of the Midwest most at risk from agricultural runoff.

At the same time, organic foods can have higher levels of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients, and recent research found that an organic diet significantly lowered concentrations of two neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides in children.

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Runoff from a farm field in Iowa during a rain storm. Lynn Betts / U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Drinking Water for Millions in Rural America Contaminated With Suspected Carcinogen

Drinking water supplies for millions of Americans in farm country are contaminated with a suspected cancer-causing chemical from fertilizer, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group.

The contaminant is nitrate, which gets into drinking water sources when chemical fertilizer or manure runs off poorly protected farm fields. Nitrate contaminates drinking water for more than 15 million people in 49 states, but the highest levels are found in small towns surrounded by row-crop agriculture. Major farm states where the most people are at risk include California, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kansas.

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Top 10 Reasons to Reject Trump’s Chemical Safety Nominee

By Scott Faber

Next week, a key Senate committee will consider the nomination of Michael Dourson to oversee chemical safety at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Here are the top 10 reasons senators should reject his nomination.

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. NRDC / Flilckr

Trump, Pruitt Slash EPA Staff to 30-Year Lows as Drinking Water, Climate Change Crises Mount

By October of this year, the staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be reduced to levels not seen since the Reagan administration, 30 years ago, according to a report by Brady Dennis with the Washington Post.

The dramatic reduction in staff will almost certainly include career scientists and other staff who are often called into local communities where an environmental disaster is occurring, like Houston following Hurricane Harvey. These staffers also work on less urgent, but serious problems like the widespread drinking water contamination that impacts virtually every American.

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Pruitt's EPA Cedes Pesticide Oversight to Agriculture Department

Internal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents show that Administrator Scott Pruitt has effectively relinquished the EPA's oversight of pesticide safety to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), said Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) senior vice president of government affairs.

More than 700 pages of emails and other records show that Pruitt and other EPA officials consulted closely with agribusiness interests and top officials at the USDA on the decision not to ban chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide that has been shown to harm children's brains at even very low levels, according to The New York Times.

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Food

Monsanto GMO Guru Attacks Pesticides in Produce Shopper's Guide

By Alex Formuzis

We'd like to thank Rob Fraley, chief technology official at Monsanto, who's largely responsible for introducing genetically modified foods to the U.S. and Big Ag's surge in pesticide use that ensued.

We aren't thanking him for that catastrophe, but for his recent Huffington Post attack on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and our Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which he called propaganda. (At least he didn't say fake news).

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