Texas weakens chemical exposure guidelines, opens door for polluters

By Lisa Song and Rosalind Adams

Amid a fracking boom, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has quietly weakened air pollution guidelines for toxic chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "National Academy of Sciences":

"… tighter chemical regulations. Its first effort was to address a 2009 National Academy of Sciences risk assessment report authored by Finkel, the Penn professor, and 14 …"

Health worries pervade North Texas fracking zone

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

Some residents of the heavily fracked Barnett Shale in North Texas blame their health problems on toxic oil and gas emissions.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… , an internal medicine specialist who sits on the Lubbock, Texas, Board of Health, reviewed the research herself and saw it as a call to action. “I think …"

"… ef-exposure guideline is even higher, at 180 parts per billion. The World Health Organization’s guidelines say “no safe level of exposure can …"

"… o effects. In 2012 the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences called for more low-dose testing to fill the void. The …"

"… logist working for the nonprofit Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, said his group’s measurements show emissions from wells and com …"

Smoke, odors and drifting foam in Fort Worth suburb stir frustration over fracking

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

Some residents of the Fort Worth suburb of Mansfield are arguing for stricter local regulation of hydraulically fractured wells.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Energy":

"… facto ban. Chris Faulkner, chief executive of Dallas-based Breitling Energy and an outspoken advocate of fracking, summed up his thoughts on what …"

"… ow what it was. The station looks like a couple of barns. Then EagleRidge Energy drilled and fracked more wells on both pads last year, bringing the comple …"

"… and a mixture of compounds are vented. The TCEQ directed then-owner Texas Energy Midstream to produce the records operators are required to keep. What Irw …"

"… t the fact that they can’t produce a record … is ridiculous.” Texas Energy Midstream, which sold the compressor station this fall, did not respond to …"

Plant expansions fueled by shale gas boom to boost greenhouse gas, toxic air emissions

By Talia Buford

At least 120 planned plant expansions driven by the fracking boom collectively could release 130 million tons per year of greenhouse gases.

Excerpts from this story referencing "American Chemistry Council":

"… itizens of the area that did not exist prior to the projects.” The American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main trade group, said the “new factories and …"

"… ants will get more and more efficient,” she said. In its statement, the American Chemistry Council said, “The new U.S. chemical industry production will be advanced, state …"

Luxembourg tax deals for Disney, Koch brothers empires revealed

By Alison Fitzgerald and Marina Walker Guevara

New leak discloses secret tax agreements between major American companies and Luxembourg.

Excerpts from this story referencing "finance":

"… them under Luxembourg companies that are all served by internal corporate finance companies, akin to a company’s own bank. These internal lenders received …"

"… ents show.  At the center of the new structure is a third company, a finance arm initially called Wedco Participations SCA. The internal bank made loa …"

"… hidden capital contributions” from other Luxembourg subsidiaries to the finance company, totaling more than €650 million. Disney also set up a U.S. bra …"

Governors and oil industry work hand in hand in offshore drilling group

By Nicholas Kusnetz

Lobbying firm, advocacy organization did much of the work.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environment":

"… ing process that focused on the Atlantic. Officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources told journalists and Environmental groups that …"

'Banking Caucus' member aims for Senate

By Alison Fitzgerald

Republican candidate for Senate U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito defends little banks but big banks benefit too.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Jay Rockefeller":

"… s running for West Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat that’s being vacated by Jay Rockefeller after 30 years. She counts Citigroup and Goldman Sachs among her most gen …"

Five-state study finds high levels of airborne chemicals near oil and gas sites

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

A study of air emissions near oil and gas wells found strikingly high levels of benzene and other dangerous chemicals in some locations.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environment":

"… monitored for the peer-reviewed study, published today in the journal Environmental Health — is “potentially dangerous compounds and chemical mixtu …"

"… and director of the University at Albany’s Institute for Health and the Environment. In 40 percent of the air samples, laboratory tests found benzene, formal …"

"… terim chair of West Virginia University’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences and author of the study for that state. “Part of the …"

"… , a faculty emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh who served as an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official during the Reagan administration. The beginn …"

Bloomberg helps Democratic governors' group close gap on Republicans

By Ben Wieder

The Republican Governors Association is outpacing its Democratic counterpart but Democrats are catching up.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Duke Energy":

"… million from Griffin. Two energy companies, Devon Energy, at $900,000, and Duke Energy, at $775,000, are among the Republican group’s top 10 donors overall. T …"

Ads in U.S. Senate contests turn nasty

By Dave Levinthal

More than seven in 10 U.S. Senate-focused television ads last week attacked or criticized a political candidate.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Thom Tillis":

"… Carolina’s Senate race, where Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan faces Republican Thom Tillis, wasn’t much more positive than the New Hampshire race: 10 percent of ad …"

Secret politics pervade popular companies

By Dave Levinthal

Some well-known brands keep their political spending secret while others are more forthcoming, new survey shows.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Warren Buffett":

"… o., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., DirecTV and Berkshire Hathaway, billionaire Warren Buffett's holding company. But overall, the nation's largest publicly traded comp …"

Oops: Republican super PAC misidentifies source of massive donation

By Michael Beckel

Super PAC acknowledges a $300,000 gift came from parents of GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, not a wealth management firm.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Florida":

"… 's corporate headquarters in Philadelphia but that of a beachside condo in Florida. Thomas Sullivan is the owner of the $3 million, 2,850-square-foot condo, …"

Why Republican control of Congress hinges on nine big-money Senate races

By Michael Beckel and Dave Levinthal

Nine big-money Senate races will determine whether Republicans control both chambers of Congress.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Michigan":

"… ir allies, meanwhile, have bankrolled more ads in Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and Montana. Thanks to retirements of Democratic lawmakers in Montana, We …"

"… engers. And hotly contested open seat races are also underway in Iowa and Michigan, where long-serving Democratic senators have also announced plans to retir …"

"… ugh late August on TV ads from all sources per eligible voter is $3.64. 6) Michigan The open seat Senate race in Michigan pits Democratic Rep. Gary Peters ag …"

"… ces per eligible voter is $3.64. 6) Michigan The open seat Senate race in Michigan pits Democratic Rep. Gary Peters against former Secretary of State Terri L …"

Firearms more likely to be used in suicides than in homicides

By Carmen Forman and Jacob Byk

At least 50 people died per day from firearm suicide; 26 died from firearm homicides.

Excerpts from this story referencing "National Rifle Association":

"… the firearms available, Berman said. “The problem of course is the NRA (National Rifle Association) and their interpretation that any attempt even to talk about safe storage …"

Women become increasingly involved in gun groups

By Lauren Loftus and Natalie Krebs

Thanks in part to targeted marketing, more women are buying guns for protection and sport

Excerpts from this story referencing "Facebook":

"… re than 40,000 followers across all major social networking sites — from Facebook to Pinterest. Another way the NRA is reaching these groups is through its …"

"… love,” Franco said of her fame — she has more than 90,000 likes on her Facebook fan page. “The shooting sports have given so much to me and I’m using …"

"… e” and stay active on social media to engage the group’s almost 57,000 Facebook followers in discussion on issues. Banister, a mother of four, said 1 Mil …"

Center for Public Integrity adds two new reporters to environment and labor team

The Center for Public Integrity’s Pulitzer Prize-winning environment and labor team is pleased to announce the hiring of two reporters.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Energy":

"… d natural gas and the Interior Department and authored the daily Afternoon Energy newsletter. Previously, Buford spent five years with The Providence …"

Nuclear weapons lab employee fired after publishing scathing critique of the arms race

By Douglas Birch

Los Alamos lets a 17-year employee go after retroactively classifying his published article.

Excerpts from this story referencing "House Armed Services Committee":

"… the reason for the request, and he eventually was told that someone at the House Armed Services Committee wanted to see the publications. But Doyle said officials refused to tell h …"

"… id Woehrle told him someone — Gibbs said he didn’t know who — on the House Armed Services Committee staff had also raised concerns that the article might contain classified i …"

Obama curbs nuclear security goals as bomb-building budget grows

By Douglas Birch

The White House rejected a confidential proposal to accelerate work on nuclear security problems despite a missed 2013 deadline.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Obama administration":

"… tegrity, was intended to address the huge amount of unfinished work in the Obama administration’s nonproliferation plan.It said that more than two tons of portable, eas …"

"… bama’s well-deserved reputation as an advocate for nuclear security, the Obama administration has been cutting nuclear security programs year after year for most of its …"

"… cans According to a study by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the Obama administration will spend at least $179 billion from 2010 through 2018 to maintain the Un …"

Lobbying activity declines among top special interests

By Dave Levinthal

Three-fifths of nation's top 100 lobbying entities spent less on influence in the second quarter compared to a year ago.

Excerpts from this story referencing "General Dynamics":

"… ctors United Technologies, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and General Dynamics cutting lobbying spending. Many large oil and energy production interests …"

Energy influence in North Dakota is expanding — so what?

By Nicholas Kusnetz and Jared Bennett

A Q & A with reporter Nicholas Kusnetz about the oil and gas industries growing influence in North Dakota.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Texas":

"… r flares have reported health issues, very similar to what was reported in Texas, and the state hasn’t done any testing of local issues like that, so the …"

How oil and gas firms gained influence and transformed North Dakota

By Nicholas Kusnetz

Industry has transformed the state, but at what cost?

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environmental Protection Agency":

"… hat the state’s monitoring system, set under guidelines from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, continues to show compliance with federal standards. “There’s a lot o …"

Montana state senators raise big bucks with secretive nonprofit

By Michael Beckel

Secretive group connected to GOP state Sens. Jason Priest and Ed Walker raised $900,000 in 2012, new documents show.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission":

"… ly suing Montana to force the state to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which allowed corporations, unions and special interest groups to …"

Energy Dept. confirms it's been on the wrong path since 2007

By Douglas Birch

A newly-released DOE study concludes the department can save billions by shelving a costly South Carolina nuclear fuel factory.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Boston":

"… o the study’s newly-released text. The study led by John MacWilliams, a Boston lawyer and equity investor appointed to advise Secretary of Energy Ernest …"

Federal judges plead guilty

By Reity O'Brien, Kytja Weir and Chris Young

Judges acknowledge conflicts of interest Center found in 26 cases.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Guinea":

"… ed, “took advantage” of Bah — a native of the West African nation of Guinea, who was not fluent in English — by failing to ensure that he would be a …"

Chemical industry among big spenders on lobbying this quarter

By Dave Levinthal

New numbers indicate it's still good to be a lobbyist in America.

Excerpts from this story referencing "American Chemistry Council":

"… ore on lobbying thanks to its “successful 2013 earnings results.” The American Chemistry Council’s lobbying spending jumped from $1.9 million during the first quarter of …"

Report offers grim predictions for South Texas air quality amid Eagle Ford oil boom

By Jim Morris, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer

State-funded study projects dramatic increase in emissions from oil and gas development by 2018.

Excerpts from this story referencing "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency":

"… umbers for emissions from pump engines were higher than estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, while AACOG's emission calculations from oil and condensate tanks were lo …"

GAO report again finds black lung proposal supported by science

By Chris Hamby

A new government study supports reducing the dust limit workers encounter in mines; the industry is pushing back against stronger rules.

Excerpts from this story referencing "mining":

"… two occasions. The union also met with these officials last November. The mining association did not respond to a request for comment about the study relea …"

States target toxic chemicals as Washington fails to act

By Ronnie Greene

In state capitols from Maine to Oregon, environmental advocates are filing bills to identify and ban noxious chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Vermont":

"… ided to go ahead on our own, because we cannot wait for TSCA reform.” …"

"… eople are losing patience,” said Justin Johnson, deputy secretary of the Vermont Agency for Natural Resources. As the Center for Public Integrity reported …"

"… donations, has helped beat back hundreds of state bills in recent years. Vermont’s Johnson is among the state officials who understand the argument that …"

"… act has grown stale. “I’ve been personally to the statehouse here in Vermont for five years in a row. ‘Let’s wait and see what the feds do,’” s …"

Tough new fracking rules in Colorado drawing keen attention in Texas, where boom rages on

By Zahra Hirji, Lisa Song and Jim Morris

Air pollution rules adopted last month in Colorado may have an impact on oil and gas drilling in Texas.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Energy":

"… f them — Anadarko Petroleum Corp., DCP Midstream, Encana Corp. and Noble Energy, Inc. — fully support the new regulations. Anadarko and DCP Midstream a …"

Plutonium fever blossoms in Japan

Cronyism, influence-buying and a stifling of dissenting voices have kept the Japanese nuclear industry going strong after Fukushima.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Energy":

"… ed nuclear fuels around the globe, under a program known as Global Nuclear Energy Partnership that envisioned a large role for the Rokkasho plant. Kono was …"

"… erested in the nuclear power industry.” It noted that four of the Atomic Energy Commission’s five members had a professional or financial stake in the i …"

"… r top-level bureaucrats from METI’s own Agency for Natural Resources and Energy became vice presidents at other electric utilities. The practice is known …"

"… ll of Japan’s existing plutonium stockpile is under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, while its uranium — a linchpin of any effort to resta …"