Welcome to our new blog, "The Watchdog," which will keep a close eye on regulatory agencies and how their actions impact the lives of everyday Americans. Though the rules and regulations they write -- from determining how much arsenic is allowable in your drinking water to whether your favorite TV show can drop the F-bomb in primetime -- affect all of us, their deliberations and the way that lobbyists influence their decisions receives very little coverage.
To make sense of these debates, follow the implementation of health care reform and financial reform and decipher the minutia of the Federal Register, "The Watchdog" is on the case. If you have any tips or suggestions, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Associated Press reports:
WASHINGTON – Faced with stiff opposition in Congress and a court-ordered deadline, the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday will make it much cheaper for companies to reduce toxic air pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators.
In a vastly overhauled regulation obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its release, the EPA says it has found ways to control pollution at more than 200,000 industrial boilers, heaters and incinerators nationwide at 50 percent less cost to the companies and institutions. That would save businesses .8 billion and still avert thousands of heart attacks and asthma cases a year.
These rules "put in place important public health safeguards...at costs substantially lower than we had estimated under our original proposal," said Gina McCarthy, EPA's top air pollution official, in a news release provided to the AP.
The deep discount for polluting industries will likely send a message to Congress that public health benefits can be achieved more economically, and that the Obama administration is serious about an executive order to review regulations that are onerous for business. The EPA, in its release, says the rules are in line with the review called for by Obama earlier this year.
- In a decision that shocked drug safety advocates, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that people injured by vaccines that were allegedly designed improperly cannot sue vaccine manufacturers. The plaintiffs had argued that their daughter suffered a seizure disorder caused by a childhood pertussis vaccine and that her reaction was avoidable because a safer vaccine design was available.
- USDA uncovers plot to import fake Chinese organic food -- the Chinese firm used a counterfeit certificate to represent non-organic crops, including soybeans, millet and buckwheat, as certified organic.
- Will the Interior Department's new oil drilling regulators let stand the defunct Minerals Management Service's earlier approval of a permit for Brazilian oil giant Petrobras to begin drilling in the Gulf of Mexico? The company's use of floating oil production, storage, and offloading platforms -- the first use of such platforms in the Gulf -- poses unprecedented environmental risks, SkyTruth tells BNA.
- Regulators say the number of banks on their confidential "problem" list increased by 24 in the fourth quarter of 2010.