Category Archive: Public Policy

Pipeline Hack Leads to Long Gas Lines

Half of the East Coast’s gasoline and jet fuel supply is at a standstill after a malware attack forced the shutdown of Colonial Pipelines.  Colonial Pipelines, a private firm that supplies gasoline to most of the cities from the Gulf Coast to Boston, was targeted by the Russian hacking group DarkSide. According to the FBI, DarkSide intended to only freeze Colonial’s data as part of an extortion scheme, but it ended up cutting off the East Coast’s oil supply in the process. The hack was aimed at the office end of Colonial’s operation, not the control systems of the pipeline. Still,...

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Earth Day Environmental Myths

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 as a way to reflect on the beauty of the planet while also planning on how to best protect it. In the more than four decades that followed, individuals, corporations, and governments have all taken steps to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions to better protect the planet.  Along the way, however, some myths have developed that must be dispelled. Here are six common environmental myths that belong in the trash:  Myth #1: All plastic can really be recycled. Many types of plastic cannot be recycled via the common “blue bin” curbside recycling programs. Most curbside...

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California Potholes May Soon Be Repaired With Recycled Plastic

While environmentalists often see plastic as a problem, some lawmakers in California are starting to see the versatile material as a solution.  The California State Senate Committee on Transportation unanimously voted to fund a study analyzing how recycled plastic can be used to make new roads. The roads would be paved with asphalt made from recycled plastic. Recycled plastic asphalt has already been used to repair roads in Vancouver, Canada, and Rotterdam in the Netherlands. There was also a small trial of recycled plastic asphalt in the United States at the University of California in San Diego. That small stretch of road,...

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California Lawmakers Take Fracking Ban to Next Level

Last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for some restrictions on hydraulic fracking. This year, the state legislature responded with a plan that significantly expands the restrictions Newsom requested.  Newsom had requested a ban on hydraulic fracking and asked lawmakers to consider implementing a buffer zone restricting fracking from taking place near schools. In response, lawmakers drafted a bill that will completely outlaw fracking and several other forms of oil extraction by 2027. It also forbids operations from working within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, or medical facilities by the beginning of next year.  Democratic lawmakers have been pressuring Newsom to support...

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California Lawmakers Plan to Ban Fracking by 2027

A new bill in California could completely end all fracking in the nation’s third-largest state by area.  The legislation, proposed by Democratic State Senators Scott Wiener and Monique Limon, will halt all new oil and gas permits by the end of the year and completely outlaw the practice of fracking by 2027.  Hydraulic fracking is the process of tapping natural gas earth’s crust by splitting layers of rock to release the gas. Natural gas is a carbon-based energy source used to heat homes, run stoves, and power entire cities. Wiener said that the legislation is essential to help end climate change.  “This is...

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Andrew Cuomo Ignores Nuclear Energy in $26B Green Energy Plan

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to help the economy and environment of the Empire State by implementing a massive green energy scheme.  Cuomo announced that New York could be spending billions of dollars to expand solar and wind power in the state. His plan includes the development of two new offshore wind farms off of Long Island and 68 other large-scale onshore wind and solar farms.  The governor claimed that this large project will help New York achieve its goal of having the power grid run on 70 percent renewable energy by the year 2030.  While the plan has billions...

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Measles Resurgence Shows Its Time To Change How We Talk About Vaccines

This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) cited vaccine hesitancy as a top global health threat. The viral spread of anti-vaccine information (pun very much intended) is leading to a resurgence of measles in the United States, where inoculations are readily available as part of the MMR and MMR-V vaccines. More than 300 people have contracted measles in New York, roughly 100 cases have emerged in the Pacific Northwest, and additional outbreaks are springing up in California, Texas, and Illinois. Affluent parents opting out of vaccination stands in stark contrast to an ongoing measles outbreak in Madagascar – where many want...

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Keeping Up With The Chemophobia

The latest episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians chronicles Kourtney Kardashian’s day advocating for cosmetic reform on Capitol Hill. The reality TV star-turned lobbyist teamed up with Environmental Working Group (EWG) to convince lawmakers that cosmetics are unsafe, and to pass sweeping legislation to change how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) handles cosmetics. Kardashian thoroughly prepared her pitch, purportedly asking her friend, “The House of Representatives. Is that what it’s called?” over lunch at a local steakhouse. Let us help you out, Kourt. Currently, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires all cosmetics be substantiated for safety before reaching the...

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E15 Fuel: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Trump Administration recently decided to allow gasoline stations to sell E15 – which is shorthand for gasoline with a 15 percent blend of ethanol – to be sold year-round. Right now, most gasoline sold in the U.S. is E10, or a 10 percent ethanol blend. As a biofuel, ethanol is praised for its environmental friendliness for reducing the use of fossil fuels, but that praise comes with a few caveats. Older vehicles can’t use E15 without risking corrosion and engine failure. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-commissioned emissions testing also indicates that some vehicles that are able to pass emissions standards while running...

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Blame Outdated Law, Not Science, For The Latest Artificial Flavor Cancer Scare

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is giving food manufacturers 2 years to remove a handful of artificial flavors from drinks, baked goods, ice cream and other foods for having ties to cancer in laboratory animals. Sounds like a straightforward situation, right? Spoiler alert: it's not. The change sprang from a petition arguing that since megadoses of six ingredients — benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, methyl eugenol, myrcene, pulegone and pyridine — cause cancer in laboratory animals, their use as food additives breaks federal law. However, even as the agency announced the ban, it was sure to specify that all the banned ingredients “are unlikely...

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