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EWG’s News Roundup (12/22): Trump’s Deadly Chemicals, Pruitt’s Contract with Oppo Research Firm Collapses and a Look Back at 2017

In the News
Friday, December 22, 2017

2017 has been a busy year at EWG. We launched the National Tap Water Database and EWG’s Healthy Living: Home Guide, expanded our EWG VERIFIED™ program to over 1,000 personal care products, pushed back hard against those in power seeking to erase 50-plus years on environmental progress and so much more. To read a bit more about several of EWG’s initiatives this year, check out this rundown retrospective.

News broke late last week that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt spent $120,000  in taxpayer money on a contract with a conservative public relations firm to assist with “media monitoring.”

On Monday, EWG and government watchdog group American Oversight called on EPA’s Inspector General to investigate the contract and get to the bottom of its purpose. Less than 24 hours after EWG and American Oversight submitted the request, EPA announced that they were terminating the six-figure contract – which leads to more questions than answers.

Following up on more news from last week, EWG sounded the alarm on the Trump administration’s announcement that they were scuttling planned bans on a handful of toxic chemicals, including the deadly paint stripper methylene chloride. The chemical has been directly tied to a number of deaths throughout its years in the marketplace.

“EPA’s callous decision to continue to allow the use of methylene chloride in paint strippers will lead to more needless deaths of Americans who are simply refinishing a door or renovating a bathroom,” said Scott Faber, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at EWG. “Once again, this administration would rather pander to chemical industry lobbyists than save American lives.” 

EWG also took time to report on a recent study that ties fracking chemicals to babies being born underweight and posed the question: does cotton farming need to be further subsidized?

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

Environmental Protection Agency and Chemical Bans

COX TV: EPA’s Chemical Program

The EPA said that it’s not going to proceed with those bans. It is not just organizations like the Environmental Working Group. The EPA's own website calls TCE harmful to humans. EPA says they pose unreasonable risks if your health. 

The segment aired in Boston, Pittsburgh, Seattle and 5 other media markets.

EcoWatch: Trump EPA Delays Deadly Chemical Bans Indefinitely

"EPA's callous decision to continue to allow the use of methylene chloride in paint strippers will lead to more needless deaths of Americans who are simply refinishing a door or renovating a bathroom," said Scott Faber, senior vice president at Environmental Working Group. “Once again, this administration would rather pander to chemical industry lobbyists than save American lives.” Reprinted by Environment Guru and American Infrastructure Magazine.

EPA and Definers Public Affairs

POLITICO: Morning Energy – Probe Sought in EPA’s ‘Media Monitoring’ Contract

American Oversight and the Environmental Working Group have asked EPA’s inspector general to investigate the agency’s $120,000 no-bid contract with a firm tied to Pruitt to track news coverage of its activities.

The Hill: Dems ask EPA to terminate contract with GOP publicity firm

And on Monday, the Environmental Working Group and American Oversight asked the EPA’s Office of Inspector General to investigate the contract.

Mother Jones: Senators Want EPA to “Immediately” Cancel Contract With Republican Research Firm

On Monday, the Environmental Working Group and American Oversight, a Trump administration watchdog, asked the EPA’s inspector general to investigate the no-bid contract.

Roll Call: EPA Ends Media Research Deal With GOP-Tied Firm Amid Complaints

The Environmental Working Group and the left-leaning American Oversight watchdog group on Monday urged the EPA Office of Inspector General to look into why the agency awarded the contract without bidding, and consumer advocacy group Public Citizen filed a protest Tuesday with the Government Accountability Office about the contract on behalf of two communications agencies that “would have offered a bid” had they been asked. The protest requested the contract be rescinded. Reprinted by ArcaMax.

The Daily Caller: Trump’s EPA Ends Contract With GOP Media Firm After Complaints From Democrats

The decision came shortly after the Environmental Working Group and American Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog, demanded Monday the EPA inspector general to open an investigation into the contract. The agency countered reports other vendors were prevented from bidding on the media contract.

Washington Examiner: EPA ends contract with Republican PR firm as 'distraction' builds

The Environmental Working Group and American Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog, asked the EPA inspector general on Monday to start an investigation into the award. The contract was for $120,000 to track 24-hour media coverage.

Washington Examiner: Groups urge EPA inspector general to investigate media contract

The Environmental Working Group and American Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog, asked the EPA inspector general on Monday to start an immediate investigation into the agency's award of a contract to Virginia-based Definers Public Affairs. Reprinted by Long Room.

Washington Examiner: EPA conducted surveillance sweep of Scott Pruitt's office

The Environmental Working Group and American Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog, asked the EPA inspector general on Monday to start an investigation into the agency's award of a $120,000 contract to Virginia-based Definers Public Affairs.

Utility Dive: EWG, American Oversight Call for EPA IG Investigation Into No-Bid Contract with GOP Consulting Firm

Non-partisan watchdog group American Oversight and the Environmental Working Group today called for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General to immediately investigate the agency’s no-bid contract to Definers Public Affairs, a Republican media consulting firm. Reprint of EWG news release.

EPA and Scott Pruitt

Washington Examiner: Green Groups Threaten Lawsuits to Fight EPA Reorganization

Other environmental groups are going after large companies that have been offered a chance to collaborate with Pruitt, because they believe it is cover for "destroying the agency's ability to do its job," according to the Environmental Working Group.

Cell Phone Radiation

Reuters Health: Miscarriage rates triple for women with top radiation exposures

Olga V. Naidenko, a senior science advisor with the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. who was not involved with the study, described the findings as “very compelling” and “very alarming.” She called for more research into the biological effects of electromagnetic radiation. Reprinted by Business Insider, Yahoo! News, and 18 other media outlets.

Cosmetics

Prevention: Are Your Beauty Products Toxic? Here's Everything You Need To Know

Women use an average of 12 personal care products every day, exposing themselves to 168 chemicals, according to the Environmental Working Group. Men use half as many products but still come in contact with 85 chemicals daily.

Café Mom: Even Safe-for-Kids Makeup Isn't 'Safe' At All

The ones that bother me more, actually, are made FOR kids, and yet they contain the toxic nasties that experts like the Environmental Working Group tell us to avoid at all costs when it comes to our kids. EWG estimates kids are exposed to an average of 27 personal care product ingredients that have not been found safe for developing bodies. And out of 1,700-some products sold "for kids," they say 77 percent of the ingredients haven't been assessed for safety.

Conscious Life News: Beware: Synthetic Scents Could Cause Cancer, Asthma, Kidney Damage and More

Research conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that there was an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name brand fragrance products. But it doesn’t stop there — none of these chemicals were actually listed on the label!

EWG VERIFIED™
The Rose Sheet: NSF's Cosmetics Verification Program Fizzles, While EWG's Could See Second Boom (subscription)

NSF International has put its cosmetic product verification program on ice due to lack of interest since its launch in April 2017. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 products from 75+ brands have earned the "EWG Verified" mark, and the NGO says interest is higher than ever following Walmart's announcement in September that it will begin pushing vendors to pursue the verification.

Farm Subsidy Double Dipping

The Hill: Congress should keep its promises to taxpayers in the next farm bill

The Environmental Working Group estimated in a recent report that the double dipping cost taxpayers $23.9 billion over two years in 2014 and 2015.

Farm Subsidies

High Plains Public Radio: Small Payouts From Farm Safety-Net Programs Make Big Difference In Rural Schools

The Environmental Working Group has looked comprehensively at farm supports, including the ARC and PLC programs.

Air Purifiers
Gadget Review: Air Purifiers - Your Home Air May Be Dirtier Than You Think

We have interesting (and spooky) research for you to check out: According to the Environmental Working Group, the air inside homes tends to be two to five times more polluted than the air outside.

Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Reader’s Digest: The Scary Reason You Might Want to Switch to Organic Spinach

If you’ve ever spent time debating whether organic produce is worth the price, you might be familiar with the Dirty Dozen list put out by the Environmental Working Group. The list highlights the 12 “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides, and there was one VIP on the list this year.

CafeMom: 10 Food Rules Every Breastfeeding Mom Should Follow

Pesticides, insecticides, and BPA, among other environmental toxins, can make their way into breast milk, says Macdonald. For that reason, she recommends eating organic produce when you can -- especially when you're buying fruits and veggies that are on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list. "Limit swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, tuna as they are high in mercury," she says. 

Drinking Water

Texas Observer: The 7 Most Pressing Issues Facing Rural Texas

According to an Environmental Working Group study issued this year, the state’s most contaminated sources of drinking water can be found in the farming communities surrounding Lubbock, where a hodgepodge of chemicals mix to make an especially carcinogenic water supply.

 

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