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EWG News Roundup (5/12): N.C. Lawmakers Favor Big Pork Over Public Health, Trump Threatens Paris Climate Agreement and Senators Take on Chemicals in Cosmetics

Friday, May 12, 2017

In the continuing battle over the long-held property rights of hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, the state legislature overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto on a bill that would limit compensation from hog farm nuisance lawsuits, delivering a victory for Big Pork on the backs of constituents.

To make matters worse, scientific tests found abundant hog feces on homes and lawns, and in the air of private properties near these industrial pig farms – proof that nearby communities are being exposed to dangerous fecal bacteria, endangering the health of tens of thousands of citizens. Despite this public health nightmare, state lawmakers still decided to strip residents of their right to fair compensation from nearby concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

Also this week, the White House unexpectedly canceled a series of meetings to determine whether or not the U.S. should remain in the landmark Paris climate change agreement. Instead, the Trump administration will announce later this month if the U.S. will join the ranks of Syria and Nicaragua – the only holdouts on the historic climate pact.

Here’s what EWG President Ken Cook had to say:

Walking backward doesn’t take the planet or the country with you, Mr. President. The only way to curb the rise of carbon dioxide pollution is aggressive leadership from the United States. Do we really want to join Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations on Earth not committed to this worldwide fight to stave off famine, drought and environmental devastation?  

On a high note, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, reintroduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act. The legislation would arm the Food and Drug Administration with tools to make cosmetics and other personal care products safer.

Here’s some news you can use as you begin your weekend.

North Carolina CAFOs

Associated Press: Legislature overrides Cooper veto on hog farm odor lawsuits

The Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance estimate about 60,000 North Carolina homes are within a half-mile of livestock operations, the range within which families are mostly likely to pursue lawsuits to stop an alleged nuisance.

Civil Eats: North Carolina Factory Farms Lose Effort to Limit Pollution Lawsuits

About 160,000 North Carolina residents live within a half-mile of a manure pit and would be affected by the bill, and about 960,000 residents live within the three-mile nuisance zone, according to a recent mapping analysis conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which also released a list of the property owners affected.

Environmental Health News: Hog poop bacteria from big NC farms taints nearby homes.

Last month the environmental nonprofit group Environmental Working Group mapped North Carolinian’s proximity to confinement hog farms and found that 60,000 homes across the state are within a half mile of such farms or pits where hog manure is stored.

Esquire: I Love the Smell of Pig Sh*t in the Morning

According to a study by the EWG and The Waterkeeper alliance, Pender County alone has 96 animal feeding operations, producing over 289,000,000 gallons of wet waste per year. Brunswick County operates 15 animal feeding operations, resulting in over 66,000,000 gallons of wet waste produced per year. Data from New Hanover County was not readily available.

Mother Jones: UPDATED: North Carolina GOP Scrambles to Save Pig Stink

"Big Pork had a big day in the state house, as it snatched away the ability for residents to obtain fair compensation for damage to their homes and health from the animal waste of factory farms," Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement.

Politico: Morning Agriculture – N.C. Senate Overrides Veto, Caps Liability for Feedlots

In related news, the Environmental Working Group has published a study that it says is proof that animal feces are abundant on the homes and lawns of private properties located near big hog farms in North Carolina. EWG says Shane Rogers, a professor at Clarkson University in New York, tested air and physical samples from the yards and exteriors of 17 homes up to a mile away from a Smithfield facility.

Morning Ag Clips: Cooper vetoes nuisance damage bill

The Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance estimate about 60,000 North Carolina homes are within a half-mile of livestock operations, the range within which families are mostly likely to pursue lawsuits to stop an alleged nuisance.

The Progressive Pulse: When pigs fly: Hog nuisance bill clears first hurdle toward full

The Environmental Working Group recently analyzed tax records and determined that 60,000 people in North Carolina live within a half-mile of an industrialized livestock farm. An estimated 270,000 live within three miles.

Personal Care Products Safety Act

PublicNow: Feinstein, Collins Introduce Bill to Strengthen Oversight of Personal Care Products, Protect Consumer Safety

The bill is supported by the following health and consumer organizations like the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Caregiver Action Network, Endocrine Society, Environmental Working Group, March of Dimes, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National Psoriasis Foundation and the Society for Women's Health Research.

License to Kill Bill (aka Regulatory Accountability Act)

Reach MD: Attack on Food Safety Rules Is Life or Death Issue for Allergy Sufferers

Food allergies don't just cause hives or breathing problems – they can also kill. That's why the so-called Regulatory Accountability Act, or RAA, moving through Congress should be called the License to Kill bill.

Sonny Perdue and Nutrition Guidelines for School Lunch

VICE News: Calorie Counts Face an Uncertain Future Under Trump

Dawn M. Undurraga, a nutritionist at the Environmental Working Group, added, “Having worked in a school cafeteria, I can confirm that the amount of food waste is upsetting. Kids need consistency and structure with support. It can take 15 times or more for kids to try and learn to enjoy new foods.”

Trump and Climate Change

Fusion: Everything you need to know about Trump’s standoff with the Paris Agreement

“Do we really want to join Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations on Earth not committed to this worldwide fight to stave off famine, drought and environmental devastation?” asked Ken Cook, President Environmental Working Group. “Walking backward doesn’t take the planet or the country with you, Mr. President. It won’t stop the glaciers from melting, catastrophic storms from occurring, or the Atlantic Ocean from rising up and swallowing Mar-a-Lago.”

The Washington Times: Trump delays decision on Paris climate change agreement until after G-7 summit

Environmental groups said the delay was a hopeful sign for their side. “Let’s all hope blood is thicker than water, and this postponement means Ivanka Trump and others from the reality wing in the White House are prevailing in persuading the president to keep the U.S. in the treaty and are committed to combating the threat of climate change,” said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook.


NBC Bay Area: Nearly a Million Californians Exposed To Pesticide Chemical Linked To Cancer in Their Drinking Water

“Most Americans are not aware that there are lots of not only regulated, but unregulated contaminants in their drinking water,” said Bill Walker, vice president and managing editor of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.

Sacramento Bee: California proposes stringent cap on toxic chemical in drinking water

Citing federal data, the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, says the chemical also has been detected in water supplies of a dozen other states, including New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as Puerto Rico. The working group said the extent of contamination is likely underestimated because federal tests used a contamination threshold much higher than California’s. (The federal government does not set restrictions on TCP in drinking water.)


Fox4: WDAF (Kansas City, MO): MU researcher highlights levels of BPA found in common items, and what amplifies absorption

Avoid eating processed foods, especially from cans that use BPA in the lining. Avoid pesticides by eating organic food when possible. Use the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists on the ewg.org website to prioritize and save money when you buy. Use other guides on ewg.org to find safer products for skin, hair, baby and home in order to decrease your exposure to combined classes of chemicals.


The Houston Chronicle: Tainted tap water

Chromium 6 contaminates the water supplies of more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states. The levels of chromium 6 in Houston's tap water rank the third-highest of any major city in the nation, according to a 2016 analysis of federal data from the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit. Even more troubling: These levels don't put the city in violation of any state or federal regulation.


Ms. Magazine: On Make-Up and Mother’s Day

In 2006, Environmental Working Group partnered with Rachel’s Network on biomonitoring studies of a national network of women and found traces of up to 48 chemical contaminants were present in the blood of the women tested. The chemicals identified in their bloodstreams were mostly from unregulated household goods, plastics, beauty products, food and water.

PopSugar: These Are the Safest Cosmetic Products For Babies, According to the EWG

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) worries about these ingredients — such as parabens, phthalates, and triclosan — as well and is looking to help consumers make more informed shopping decisions with its “Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.”

Teen Vogue: Why Parabens Could Be Bad for You

Parabens are a class of chemicals that are used as preservatives in many personal care products, including lotions, shampoos, toothpastes, makeup, and more. Nneka Leiba, deputy director of research at Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, tells Teen Vogue that there are six types of parabens commonly used in personal care products — methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutylparabens — and they all work to help curb bacterial growth and extend the shelf life of those products.

Farm Bill

Civil Eats: Trump Executive Order Promises to Slash Farm Regulations

In addition, Trump’s executive order fails to mention important segments of the rural food system, including farmworkers, food-processing workers, and organic farmers. And the order assumes that the U.S. farm economy and that of rural communities are synonymous. “Once again, policy makers are confusing the farm economy with the rural economy,” said Environmental Working Group senior vice president Scott Faber.

Farm Subsidies

Inside Sources: OPED – Three Views: More farm subsidies won’t help the rural economy

Anne Weir Schechinger is a senior economics analyst for the Environmental Working Group, based in the organization's Midwest regional office in Ames, Iowa. She wrote this for InsideSources.com. Reprinted by the Globe Gazette, South Coast Today, Spartanburg Herald Journal, Las Vegas Sun and Charleston Gazette-Mail.


Cosmopolitan: 15 foods you should never eat. Ever.

Hard-and-fast food rules are made to be broken. But some common foods are seriously bad for you. “It doesn't mean you'll get sick, get cancer, or die if you eat a dangerous food once,” says Nneka Leiba, deputy director of research at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which ranks foods' safety. “But there are certain foods you should avoid as much as possible if you have a choice.”

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in ProduceTM

Rodale’s Wellness: 8 Foods You Should Always Buy at the Farmer's Market

Another benefit to buying local? Pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group's Shoppers Guide to Produce, peaches are treated with more pesticides than any other fruit. Buying local means you can grill the farmer to see which chemicals, if any, he or she uses.


Politico: What broke the Safe Drinking Water Act?

A 2009 database of state monitoring results compiled by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that focuses on environmental health issues, found more than 300 contaminants in tap water across 45 states, nearly two-thirds of which were unregulated. The group said an update planned for this summer found similar results.

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