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Entries in legislation (8)


Closing in Loopholes in Organic Meat and Dairy Regulations

A modern dairy farm. Photo courtesy of TriangleJr.com – North Carolina Child Care & Family Resource.

What do we expect when we see that green and white USDA organic label on meat and dairy products? We expect that those animals are treated humanely; allowed to graze on open pastures; and not given poor quality feed with synthetic filler, hormones, and antibiotics.

For the most part, this is what we’ve gotten every since the National Organic Program went into effect a decade ago, requiring that animals be given access to outside pastures.

The festering problem in the industry has always been the regulation’s vaguely written language. The National Organic Coalition has complained that, “in recent years, it has become clear that some organic dairies have been permitted to sell milk as ‘organic’ even though the cows have not had access to pasture.

“When challenged about why they are permitting some dairy operations to skirt the pasture standards, the USDA’s National Organic Program has stated that the regulation is too vague for them to adequately enforce.”

In response to widespread protest - from consumers, organic certifiers, public interest groups, and dairy producers who comply with the rule - the USDA opened the issue for public and industry input to amend the regulation.

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Cancerous House Dust Across America Linked to Pavement Sealcoats

Coal-tar-based sealcoat being applied. Photo by Peter Van Metre.

We all have memories as children of being told to wipe our feet before coming in. Well, it might be more important than ever to follow that advice with a new study about what we may be tracking in.

Coal-tar-based sealcoal - that black, shiny stuff sprayed or painted on many parking lots, driveways, and playgrounds - has been linked to elevated concentrations of the contaminants polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in house dust.

Houses and apartments next to areas treated with this type of sealcoat contained dust with much higher concentrations of PAHs than those next to areas treated with other types sealcoats, according to the new study published by Environmental Science and Technology.

Asphalt-based sealcoat being applied. Photo by Guardtop.In contrast, “asphalt-based products have concentrations of PAHs that are 1,000 times less than what are in coal-tar-based products,” said Dr. Barbara Mahler, one of the authors of the study and a research hydrologist with the water resources division of the U.S. Geological Survey.

The concern is that “PAHs are highly potent carcinogens than can produce tumors in some organism at even a single dose. Mammals can absorb PAHs by inhalation, dermal contact or ingestion,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Fish exposed to PAH contamination have exhibited fin erosion, liver abnormalities, cataracts, and immune system impairments leading to increased susceptibility to disease,” adds the agency.

Working to assess water quality across the nation, “what caught our attention was there was one group of contaminants that was increasing, and that was the PAHs, which were primarily increasing in urban lakes in the U.S.,” said Mahler.

She went on to say that, “What we also found was that the PAH concentrations in the dust on these parking lots were extremely high, much higher than we had seen from any other PAH sources, including things like motor oil.”

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Oregon Loggers Outraged Over Secretary’s Decision to Cut the WOPR

Odell lake sits along the crest of the Oregon Cascades, near Wilamette Pass. Courtesy of Flickr.com.

Not everyone is cheering Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision to “withdraw” the Western Oregon Plan Revisions, which rezoned 2.6 million acres of federal public forests in Oregon as part of conserving the habitat of the northern spotted owl. The rezoning- now gone- was also a boom for the region’s logging industry.

Jim Geisinger, executive vice president of Associated Oregon Loggers, said, “We really believe what the secretary did was a breach of public trust. That Bureau of Land Management plan was five years in the making and complied with all of the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act as well as the National Environmental Policy Act.

“There was extensive public input and for the secretary to just withdraw the record of decision arbitrarily really is unprecedented. It is unfortunate that the secretary wouldn’t even allow the plan to be presented to a court for a decision.”

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Outraged Senator Introduces Federal Act to Protect Young Children From Widespread Contaminants in Personal Care Products

Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) . Stock photo.

NEW YORK- In response to a children’s health study done by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Sen. Krsiten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has introduced the Safe Baby Products Act into the federal legislature.

In conjunction with the bill, now awaiting a reference number, Gillibrand wrote a letter to Frank M. Torti, acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, stating that “due to complete and total lack of oversight, the products that we use to care for our children could be putting their health and lives at risk. I find it to be unacceptable that the FDA does not regulate personal care products, as it does food and drugs.”

Gillibrand went on to say in her letter that, “The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned laboratory tests that revealed that personal care products are commonly contaminated with formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane, which have been linked to cancer and skin allergies.

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$750 Million to the National Parks Creating Jobs in a Variety of Fields

At the Dinosaur National Monument and Quarry, visitors can watch paleontologists remove fossils in a three-story glass building attached to a mountain, according to Dinosaurland KAO, Vernal, UT. Photo courtesy of Dinosaurland KAO.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congress has directed $750 million toward national park infrastructures projects through the Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C..

“Investments in national park infrastructure will help to improve safety and public access; restore our national heritage; and bring immediate economic benefits—including thousands of new jobs in rural and urban communities nationwide,” said Karen Hevel-Mingo, Southwest regional program manager of the National Parks Conservation Association, Washington, D.C.

Nearly 800 projects are planned, which the National Parks Service, Washington, D.C., plans to use to create jobs in areas including: construction, deferred maintenance, energy efficiency equipment replacement, trails maintenance, abandoned mine lands safety projects, and road maintenance.

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