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EWG News and Analysis

The latest from EWG’s staff of experts >>

EWG’s News Roundup (11/17): Farmers Double Dip into Subsidies, California Leads on Clean Energy and More

In the News
Friday, November 17, 2017

In a new report this week, EWG discovered that a large swath of profitable farm operations are getting subsidized twice for one crop loss. In 2014 and 2015 these double dippers took advantage of federal farm subsidy programs to the tune of nearly $24 billion dollars, courtesy of taxpayers.

“In most businesses, when you don't make as much money as you had hoped, you don't get compensated by the government at all," said Anne Weir Schechinger, EWG's senior economics analyst and co-author of the report. “Who gets paid twice? This is the sort of ‘solution’ that can only come from Washington, and it's costing taxpayers billions.”

On the energy front, EWG, along with government watchdog group American Oversight, filed a Freedom of Information Act request on Thursday, demanding all communications between senior Department of Energy officials and the energy industry over the Trump administration’s proposed bailout of failing coal and nuclear power plants.

We also took time to juxtapose the outdated and reckless energy policies of the Trump administration with those embraced by the state of California, which could generate half its energy from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2020 – 10 years ahead of schedule.

EWG investigated the rise in installations of plastic drinking water pipes, as an alternative to lead pipes, across the U.S. We found that both plastic and lead pipes have rap sheets of potential health effects. EWG recommends using copper or polypropylene piping for all plumbing. For more tips on healthier home plumbing and other building materials, refer to EWG’s Healthy Living: Home Guide.

In addition, EWG took deep dives into the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to protect children from harmful pesticides and the risks associated with chemicals replacing BPA. We also provided some helpful tips for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

For coverage on these developments and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Farm Subsidy Double Dipping

Politico: Strange bedfellows unite to push for subsidy reform in farm bill

Stranger still, the conservatives were joined by left-leaning advocacy organizations, like the Environmental Working Group and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Argus Leader: Report: ‘Double dipping’ farmers cost taxpayers nearly $24 billion, despite reforms

A Washington, D.C., environmental group says two recently enacted farm subsidy programs still allow farmers to “double dip” for the same lost revenue. The Environmental Working Group, which maintains a database of farm subsidies, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s newest programs have paid farmers more than $13 billion for lost income due to low crop prices.

Carolina Journal Online: New report shows farmers double-dipped taxpayer subsidies

A newly released report from the Environmental Working Group – a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization – found farmers are double-dipping federal farm subsidies, costing taxpayers billions. Reprinted by the Bladen Journal.

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Editorial – Another farm bill fiasco

The Environment Working Group, which for years has railed against wasteful agricultural spending, reports that the federal government doled out $8.8 billion last year on commodity subsidies, twice what the 2014 Farm Bill estimated.

Lincoln Journal Star: Report: Nebraska farmers got more than $1B in subsidies in 2016

The Environmental Working Group on Tuesday released the latest update to its farm subsidy database. It shows that Nebraska ranked fifth among all states with more than $1.07 billion last year in subsidies form the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Reprinted by The Norfolk Daily News and seven other outlets.

Texas Observer: Top 1 Percent of Texas Commodity Farmers Get Quarter of $1.6 Billion in Subsidies

Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that shares crop subsidy data, questioned whether the biggest farms should receive subsidies at all.

N.C. Senators Reject Dourson

Associated Press: GOP senators from NC come out against Trump EPA nominee

“No one who has spent decades arguing on behalf of the chemical industry for weaker safety standards should be charged with reviewing chemicals for EPA,” said Scott Faber, a senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “It would be like putting an arsonist in charge of the fire department.” Reprinted by U.S. News and World Report, ABC News and 406 other outlets.

Think Progress: Industry consultant quickly losing GOP support for top chemical regulatory post at EPA

“No one who has spent decades arguing on behalf of the chemical industry for weaker safety standards should be charged with reviewing chemicals for the EPA. It would be like putting an arsonist in charge of the fire department,” Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at Environmental Working Group, said in a statement Wednesday.

DOE’s Push for Coal and Nuclear Energy

Energy Collective: Proposed Bailout of Coal and Nuclear Is Trump Admin’s Attempt to Save Dying Industries

A new report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) casts this proposal as a thinly veiled bailout for two industries that are no longer competitive in the electricity generation markets.

Utility Dive: EWG and American Oversight Demand Release of DOE-Industry Communications on Trump Bail Out for Coal, Nuclear

The Environmental Working Group and American Oversight formally petitioned the Department of Energy today to release all communications between senior officials and the energy industry over the Trump administration’s proposed bailout of failing coal and nuclear power plants. Reprint of EWG news release.

Scott Pruitt and the EPA

The Washington Post: EPA is taking more advice from industry – and ignoring its own scientists

“What stands out in this administration is the overt way in which career staff, especially scientists, are viewed as unfriendly or on the other side,” said Ken Cook, president of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “He’s just stiff-arming the entire scientific process.”  Reprinted by the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and 19 other outlets.

Asbestos

Safety + Health Magazine: Senate bill aims to eliminate asbestos exposure

According to a report from the advocacy group Environmental Working Group Action Fund, from 1999 to 2013 (the latest data available), the estimated number of deaths from asbestos exposure in the United States was 189,000 to 221,000 people – or 13,500 to 16,000 deaths per year.

Cleaning Products

The Science Of Eating: How To Make Natural DIY Fizzy Toilet Cleaning & Freshening Bombs

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an “American environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability.” This group scores personal care products, food, cleaning products and more with regards to their toxicity. Out of hundreds of common bathroom cleaners tested, the majority receive a failing grade.

Feinstein-Collins Cosmetics Bill

The National Law Review: A “Surprise” Cosmetic Reform Bill Appears in Congress; Bipartisan Compromise Continues to Be Legislators’ Goal

On the other hand, leading manufacturer Procter and Gamble expressed support once again for the Feinstein-Collins bill, as did the Environmental Working Group. EWG articulated its view that the Hatch bill would be less protective of consumers and also would fail to provide new funding to FDA to support its increased regulatory activities in cosmetic space (see EWG’s comparison of the two bills here). Reprinted by JD Supra and Lexology.

Skin Deep® Database

Yahoo! Lifestyle: Women’s shaving subscription service is ‘paying women back’ for years spent ‘over-paying’ for razors

The products also claim to be toxin and paraben-free, GMO and animal-friendly, and have top ratings within the EWG Skin Deep database, a review site for beauty industry products. Reprinted by Buzz AffCart.

The Sydney Morning Herald: The vegan beauty brands to look out for

If you are unsure of a vegan beauty brand’s ingredients or credentials list have a look at Environmental Working Group which is an independent organisation that conducts research on beauty and cosmetic products and the ingredients in them.

2018 Farm Bill

Radio 570 WNAX: EWG Backs Legislation To Change Harvest Price Option In Crop Insurance

Legislation has been reintroduced in the Senate and House to eliminate a crop insurance plan known as the Harvest Price Option. Environmental Working Group Senior Vice President Scott Faber says his group backs the measure.

American Ag Network: Two U.S. Senators Propose Elimination of Harvest Price Option Subsidy

Lobbying groups offering support to the measure include Americans for Prosperity, National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Coalition to Reduce Spending, The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and the Environmental Working Group, among others.

EWG’s Healthy Living: Home Guide

Gears Of Biz: How to Avoid Products That Pollute The Indoor Air in Your Home

Now, the Healthy Living Home Guide makes it easier to choose products that won’t contribute to indoor air pollution. The online guide was prepared by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organisation that focuses on chemicals in consumer products. Reprinted from Washington Post.

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

Eating Well: The Best Protein Choices and Worst for Your Health and the Environment

The Environmental Working Group (EWG, ewg.org) offers a “Meat Eaters Guide,” which looks at the environmental impact of 20 conventionally-grown protein sources, including beans, dairy, produce, meat and poultry.

Civil Eats: Is Grass-fed Beef Better for the Climate? It’s Complicated

For much of the past decade, it’s been widely reported that cattle are among the planet’s biggest climate-changing culprits. A 2010 report from the Environmental Working Group showed that cattle release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, greatly increasing the impact of meat on greenhouse gas emissions.

Sugar in Children’s Cereal

The New York Times: Are Honey Nut Cheerios Healthy? We Look Inside the Box

An Environmental Working Group analysis of a number of popular cereals – a report that linked sugary cereals to the “nation’s childhood obesity epidemic” – put Honey Nut Cheerio’s sugar content second only to Fruity Pebbles. The same group found that one cup of the cereal had more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies. Reprinted by Tampa Bay Times and six other media outlets.

Women’s Health Magazine: Your Favorite ‘Healthy’ Cereal Is Actually Full Of Sugar

Honey Nut Cheerios has more of the sweet stuff than many of the sugar-filled cereals marketed toward children. The only popular cereal with a higher sugar content than Honey Nut Cheerios is Fruity Pebbles, according to an Environmental Working Group analysis that also found that one cup of the cereal had more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies.

Nonstick Chemicals

The Daily Collegian: Eating farmed fish is worse than eating bacon?

A report from the Environmental Working Group in 2003 found that farmed salmon has the highest levels of toxic man-made contaminants than any other fish, with other types of farm-raised fish following closely behind and many wild-caught fish lower down on the list.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

The New York Times: Do Pesticides Get Into the Flesh of Fruits and Vegetables?

If you’re trying to prioritize which fruits and vegetables to buy organic, check the Environmental Working Group’s list of the so-called “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen,” as well as Consumer Reports’ Always Buy Organic list

Mercola: Pesticides Implicated in Infertility

Another excellent source, which is updated annually, is the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists of produce with the greatest and least amounts of pesticide contamination. Reprinted by Health Nut News.

EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens

Health: Do You Really Need to Wear Sunscreen Every Day in the Winter?

Here are three lower-SPF daily moisturizers we love that earned top scores in the latest sunscreen rankings from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). They're perfect for when you’re covered up, scarf to boots.

National Tap Water Database

ABC 2 News (Baltimore, MD): Best Life Magazine ranks Baltimore in top 10 for best drinking water

To make the list, cities had to have water that tastes good and has low levels of contamination. The information came from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Working Group, and the American Water Works Association.

CBS Baltimore: Baltimore Ranks Among Top 10 Cities In Nation For Good Drinking Water

From the 200 biggest American cities, the magazine researched to find the top 25 with the best drinking water. In order to make the list, cities had to have water that tastes good with low levels of contaminants. The data gathered to compile the list came from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Working Group, and the American Water Works Association.

NBC 4 (Reno, Nevada): TMWA fighting ‘worst’ water in US label

The latest web piece from the site BestLifeOnline.com ranks Reno as 25th on its list of cities with the worst drinking water in U.S. The data cited in the report appears to be from the Environmental Working Group, dating back to 2015. It listed 11 contaminants detected above the “health guidelines.”

The Inertia: Drinking Tap Water Might Be the Simplest Solution to Ocean Plastic Pollution

A survey of 1500 households in the US and Europe found a growing mistrust in tap water. The concerns are based on a myriad of factors including multiple water crises like the one in Flint, Michigan, the water database by EWG and microplastics reported in tap water by Orbs, preference in taste, health expert opinions, bottled water advertising, and urban myths.

1,4-Dioxane in Drinking Water

ABC6: WRTV - The Indy Channel: Columbus shuts down wells following Call 6 Report, tests

The chemical, known as 1,4 dioxane, was found in higher than recommended levels in five Indiana water systems including two in central Indiana, -- the City of Columbus and the Southwestern Bartholomew Water, according to data analyzed by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Lead in Drinking Water

AOL: How to test your tap water for lead

An Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of 100 municipal tap water systems found that New York City had six contaminants at levels above the health guidelines established by either a federal or state authority (though lead wasn’t among them). Reprinted from Popular Science.

Lifehacker: How to Test and Filter Your Tap Water for Lead

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a searchable database of water filters that lets you select for filter type, filter technology, and contaminant. Reprinted by Proiner Tech.

PERC in Drinking Water

Environmental Defense Fund: “Tore apart our happy home”: Another chemical embraced by Dourson and Beck is contaminating the drinking water supply in Memphis and across the country

Data compiled by the Environmental Working Group from local water utilities shows that PERC was detected in tap water samples taken by water utilities in 44 states that serve 19 million people. Reprinted by EnvironmentGuru.

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