/usr/home/ucswebhosting/public_html/ucsblog/wp-content/themes/UCS_2015/feeds/feed-rss2.php Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have been concluded. Citizens now have access to the 30-chapter agreement that is several thousand pages long. The TPP has been opposed by four major presidential candidates, and faces criticism in Congress. Nevertheless, it is likely that the trade deal will get a vote sometime this year. But waiting in the wings, and still being negotiated largely in secret is another, equally important, trade deal: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The agreement, between the U.S. and the 28-nation European Union, has been formally discussed through 12 rounds of negotiations, with another round scheduled for some time this month. Both sides would like to conclude this treaty by the end of 2016. Because Congress has approved fast-track legislation last year, TTIP also would get an expedited up-or-down vote by Congress, with no chance for amending the treaty. The fast-track law covers trade deals that extend into the next administration, over a period as long as six years. Here’s my greatest fear about the TTIP: It will pressure regulators on both sides of the Atlantic to settle for the least restrictive public health and safety rules. Millions of European and American activists share my concerns. Particularly on the EU side of the Atlantic, there has been spirited public opposition to the TTIP. In part, that’s because the EU has publicly disclosed the text of its proposals. Unfortunately, the US Trade Representative still refuses to publicly disclose U.S. proposals on TTIP, a state of affairs that has drawn the criticism of members of Congress and activists. It also has greatly reduced the level of concern among the general public, who have been largely left out of the discussion. What we have learned about some of these proposals is incomplete but disquieting. The TTIP may open the door to “mutual recognition” of a variety of products, including drugs, medical devices and chemicals, so that if they meet the standards of the US or the EU, the products won’t have to be approved by the other side’s regulators. The EU’s proposals on regulatory cooperation could export some aspects of rule-making in the US that often delay and weaken rules. For example, business interests might get more influence over the regulatory process and regulators might have to prove that regulations did not have a harmful impact on the economy by increasing the cost of compliance for businesses. And while both the US and the EU are alike in many ways, in some ways, they are far different. Take the regulation of chemicals. The EU has the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals regimen, or REACH, a stringent system that uses the precautionary principle. Chemicals can’t be sold until they are proven to be safe. In the US under the existing Toxic Substances Control Act, chemicals are assumed to be harmless unless the EPA can demonstrate they should be regulated. In an ideal world, REACH would apply to both countries under TTIP. What many chemical reformers fear is that the opposite will happen—that REACH will be jeopardized by the agreement, and that chemical companies will take advantage of our more lax regulatory assessments and opt to be initially approved in the U.S. and then be automatically accepted in the EU. The US continues to be the gold standard when it comes to drug and device approvals. Will TTIP make it easier for US companies to bypass FDA scrutiny if their products are approved by the EU? Another, more imminent, threat is that the EU’s recent push to make clinical trial data more transparent could be halted if the TTIP enforces strict confidential business information rules. This transparency is crucial to public health and safety. There also is concern that TTIP’s proposals on regulatory cooperation may impede the ability of state governments to impose strict restrictions when federal regulators fail to act, whether it is food safety, labeling of toxic chemicals, or a ban on certain materials. The EU has pushed for regulatory cooperation that goes beyond discussions between U.S. and EU regulators, and potentially involves more oversight of state regulations. States have been the drivers of science-informed aggressive regulation. If their actions have to be monitored or assessed by a federal regulator or by an extra-national regulatory cooperation council, that would delay and discourage these crucial public protections. Investor State Dispute Settlement also is on the table. Despite the fact that the U.S. and the EU have sophisticated legal systems that could accommodate any type of litigation brought by foreign corporations, business interests continue to push for an extra-national tribunal to hear their disputes. ISDS permits a foreign corporation that believes it has been treated unfairly by a nation through its federal, state or local policies, to sue for damages for harm to its profits before an international three-person tribunal, generally composed of trade lawyers. There has been massive resistance to ISDS, including protests by well over 100,000 people in Germany alone. They are concerned that ISDS could jeopardize food safety and environmental standards if foreign companies challenged protective European policies. Germany, for example, was hit by a major ISDS lawsuit when it decided to phase out it reliance on nuclear energy after the disaster at Fukushima. The Swedish nuclear company Vattenfall sued Germany for $4.7 billion Euros in damages. The EU has tried to mollify this opposition by proposing an alternative to a three-person tribunal: an international trade court to hear such cases. But the U.S. is resisting this proposal, and many critics, including the 16,000-member German Association of Judges, strongly oppose it. German judges are concerned that a permanent court, comprised of judges who must be trade experts, would not be independent enough from corporate influence. They also argue that foreign corporations do not need a separate tribunal, when they can sue in domestic courts. Secrecy means that citizens in this country are deprived of the information they need to influence these negotiations in any meaningful way. It means that even our elected representatives cannot engage in meaningful dialogue about this crucial trade deal with their constituents. TTIP may not be as bad as hundreds of thousands of activists fear. But the problem is that we won’t know until it is too late to do much about it. We can ask Congress to reject the trade deal, but we will not have the ability to influence it as it is being negotiated. That’s a losing proposition for everyone.
Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have been concluded. Citizens now have access to the 30-chapter agreement that is several thousand pages long. The TPP has been opposed by four major presidential candidates, and faces criticism in Congress. Nevertheless, it is likely that the trade deal will get a vote sometime this year.
But waiting in the wings, and still being negotiated largely in secret is another, equally important, trade deal: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The agreement, between the U.S. and the 28-nation European Union, has been formally discussed through 12 rounds of negotiations, with another round scheduled for some time this month. Both sides would like to conclude this treaty by the end of 2016.
Because Congress has approved fast-track legislation last year, TTIP also would get an expedited up-or-down vote by Congress, with no chance for amending the treaty. The fast-track law covers trade deals that extend into the next administration, over a period as long as six years.
Here’s my greatest fear about the TTIP: It will pressure regulators on both sides of the Atlantic to settle for the least restrictive public health and safety rules.
Millions of European and American activists share my concerns. Particularly on the EU side of the Atlantic, there has been spirited public opposition to the TTIP. In part, that’s because the EU has publicly disclosed the text of its proposals.
Unfortunately, the US Trade Representative still refuses to publicly disclose U.S. proposals on TTIP, a state of affairs that has drawn the criticism of members of Congress and activists. It also has greatly reduced the level of concern among the general public, who have been largely left out of the discussion.
What we have learned about some of these proposals is incomplete but disquieting. The TTIP may open the door to “mutual recognition” of a variety of products, including drugs, medical devices and chemicals, so that if they meet the standards of the US or the EU, the products won’t have to be approved by the other side’s regulators.
The EU’s proposals on regulatory cooperation could export some aspects of rule-making in the US that often delay and weaken rules. For example, business interests might get more influence over the regulatory process and regulators might have to prove that regulations did not have a harmful impact on the economy by increasing the cost of compliance for businesses.
And while both the US and the EU are alike in many ways, in some ways, they are far different. Take the regulation of chemicals. The EU has the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals regimen, or REACH, a stringent system that uses the precautionary principle. Chemicals can’t be sold until they are proven to be safe. In the US under the existing Toxic Substances Control Act, chemicals are assumed to be harmless unless the EPA can demonstrate they should be regulated.
In an ideal world, REACH would apply to both countries under TTIP. What many chemical reformers fear is that the opposite will happen—that REACH will be jeopardized by the agreement, and that chemical companies will take advantage of our more lax regulatory assessments and opt to be initially approved in the U.S. and then be automatically accepted in the EU.
The US continues to be the gold standard when it comes to drug and device approvals. Will TTIP make it easier for US companies to bypass FDA scrutiny if their products are approved by the EU?
Another, more imminent, threat is that the EU’s recent push to make clinical trial data more transparent could be halted if the TTIP enforces strict confidential business information rules. This transparency is crucial to public health and safety.
There also is concern that TTIP’s proposals on regulatory cooperation may impede the ability of state governments to impose strict restrictions when federal regulators fail to act, whether it is food safety, labeling of toxic chemicals, or a ban on certain materials.
The EU has pushed for regulatory cooperation that goes beyond discussions between U.S. and EU regulators, and potentially involves more oversight of state regulations. States have been the drivers of science-informed aggressive regulation. If their actions have to be monitored or assessed by a federal regulator or by an extra-national regulatory cooperation council, that would delay and discourage these crucial public protections.
Investor State Dispute Settlement also is on the table. Despite the fact that the U.S. and the EU have sophisticated legal systems that could accommodate any type of litigation brought by foreign corporations, business interests continue to push for an extra-national tribunal to hear their disputes.
ISDS permits a foreign corporation that believes it has been treated unfairly by a nation through its federal, state or local policies, to sue for damages for harm to its profits before an international three-person tribunal, generally composed of trade lawyers.
There has been massive resistance to ISDS, including protests by well over 100,000 people in Germany alone. They are concerned that ISDS could jeopardize food safety and environmental standards if foreign companies challenged protective European policies. Germany, for example, was hit by a major ISDS lawsuit when it decided to phase out it reliance on nuclear energy after the disaster at Fukushima. The Swedish nuclear company Vattenfall sued Germany for $4.7 billion Euros in damages.
The EU has tried to mollify this opposition by proposing an alternative to a three-person tribunal: an international trade court to hear such cases. But the U.S. is resisting this proposal, and many critics, including the 16,000-member German Association of Judges, strongly oppose it. German judges are concerned that a permanent court, comprised of judges who must be trade experts, would not be independent enough from corporate influence. They also argue that foreign corporations do not need a separate tribunal, when they can sue in domestic courts.
Secrecy means that citizens in this country are deprived of the information they need to influence these negotiations in any meaningful way. It means that even our elected representatives cannot engage in meaningful dialogue about this crucial trade deal with their constituents.
TTIP may not be as bad as hundreds of thousands of activists fear. But the problem is that we won’t know until it is too late to do much about it. We can ask Congress to reject the trade deal, but we will not have the ability to influence it as it is being negotiated. That’s a losing proposition for everyone.]]>
Negotiated in secret, its text considered classified information that limited access even to members of Congress, the TPP largely has been influenced by a small group of trade advisors, most of whom represent corporations or business trade groups.
While it has been agreed to by the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations, TPP can’t move forward without the approval of Congress. Members of Congress who support the deal, including House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, are reluctant to bring it up for a vote until they are sure it will pass. Recent polls show public wariness about trade and its benefits.
When TPP does come up for a vote, perhaps not until after the election, it will be considered under a “fast-track” process Congress approved last year. The deal can’t be amended, and can be passed with just 51 votes in the Senate, escaping the threat of a filibuster, which would require 60 votes.
Why is TPP getting so much push-back? The mainstream media mostly has termed this a fight between labor and business over jobs, and whether this trade deal will be good for workers. But now that the public finally has access to the full text of the sprawling agreement, more than 5,000 pages in length, it’s clear that there are other reasons that TPP has raised so many concerns among those who care about the environmental, public health and safety, and addressing climate change.
Looking under the hood
The TPP has been agreed to by the U.S. and Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Together these 12 countries comprise 40 percent of the world’s GDP, and 30 percent of global trade. Its 30 chapters detail agreements on scores of separate issues, ranging from food safety to protection of endangered species and federal procurement policies.
The U.S. Trade Representative hailed the agreement because it “advances both our interests and our values abroad.” But the devil in such a wide-ranging treaty is in the details, and the details have raised a number of concerns. It is not enough to look at individual chapters of the deal, you have to look at those chapters in the context of the entire agreement.
Take the TPP’s environmental chapter. A few environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy, have praised the TPP’s environmental chapter. WWF stated that its “conservation commitments … could be game changers.” But WWF went on to say that whether the commitments worked would depend on going “beyond good words and intentions in the agreement to support and implement effective environmental protections as TPP requires.”
However, the BlueGreen Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club all have opposed the TPP, and contend that the treaty fails to protect the environment.
They argue that while the environment chapter is big on lofty goals, and asks member nations to make efforts to improve their protections of endangered flora and fauna, it largely fails to impose strong, enforceable environmental requirements.
The future of science-informed regulation
While the TPP will reduce tariffs, this trade negotiation also is valuable to multinational corporations primarily because it promises to eliminate what many members of the public consider crucial regulations to protect public health and safety and the environment, but what businesses often consider “trade barriers.” Business groups have actively promoted efforts to “harmonize” regulations, with the aim of reducing the cost of compliance.
The TPP creates a regulatory cooperation council that in theory will bring together regulators from 12 trade partners to discuss strategies to “harmonize” their public health and safety, worker and environmental regulations. In theory, this could raise the standards of all nations. But when you read the chapter on regulatory cooperation, it is clear that better standards will not be the goal of such a council. Instead, regulators will be asked to assess their rules based on whether they help or harm trade, and conform to “good regulatory practices.”
“Good regulatory practices” as defined by the TPP means a regulatory process that considers the cost of compliance along with the benefits, even though cost-benefit analysis is likely to exaggerate the costs of compliance, since those costs are provided by regulated industries, and minimize the value of benefits in terms of protecting public health and safety and the environment, which often are much harder to quantify. What is the monetary value of IQ points lost to lead poisoning, or a childhood free of asthma attacks?
“Good regulatory practices” also means considering alternatives to regulation that might be friendlier to business, and giving regulated industries the opportunity to comment on proposed rules. Another benchmark for good practices is whether a nation periodically reviews existing rules with an eye to cutting or relaxing them.
This focus on making regulations work for business raises serious questions: Will our science-informed regulations that protect us from tainted food, unsafe drugs and medical devices, defective consumer products, and polluted air and water be weakened and compromised in the future?
If regulators have to consider the impact of rules on trade, and if their approaches are monitored by an extra-national body, at the very least, this could delay needed regulations, and may discourage strong regulations that benefit the public.
Impact on fossil fuel use
The deal opens the door to unrestricted exports of natural gas from the U.S. to Japan, now the largest importer of natural gas in the world. Vietnam also is interested in natural gas.
Canada also will be able to export “billions of dollars” worth of crude oil to the U.S. without paying duties. This not only encourages more use of fossil fuels, but will make it more difficult for nations to address climate change by transitioning to renewable energy and reducing energy consumption.
Malaysia is a party to the TPP, and it is likely that will encourage the export of palm oil from that country. This increase in demand could exacerbate the problem of palm oil plantations that expand by using fire to clear forests, adding to carbon emissions, and harming public health. Deforestation also contributes to global warming.
Investor State Dispute Settlement and climate change
The TPP also will permit a foreign corporation that feels a state, local or national government has taken an action that unfairly harms its profitability to bypass domestic courts and sue for damages before an international tribunal. Since the TPP partners have 9,000 subsidiaries in the U.S., the potential for a trade suit is quite high.
ISDS lawsuits have grown substantially over the past several years, and America’s exposure to suits through the TPP now has been roughly doubled.
A lawsuit under ISDS doesn’t force a country to change its laws or regulations, but it can have a chilling effect. Faced with the pressure of multi-billion-dollar damages, countries or state and local governments may think twice before imposing strong protective environmental and public health standards. When threatened by a lawsuit, they may settle by relaxing those standards.
ISDS also may have a profound effect on state and regional agreements to address climate change. A foreign corporation that believes its profits have been harmed by policies to address climate change can bypass domestic courts and sue in an international three-person ISDS tribunal. The judges come from the arcane world of international trade, many of them trade lawyers with ties to corporations.
Late last year, when the Obama Administration cancelled TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline project, the company used the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to sue the U.S. under ISDS, asking for $15 billion in damages.
Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) has raised concerns that her state’s landmark AB 32 law, which commits the state to sharply cutting its carbon pollution, could be sued under ISDS.
For Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, ISDS alone is reason enough to oppose the TPP. The trade deal as drafted, and unable to be revised by Congress, she writes, will make things “more dangerous for American families.”
Nobel-prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz agrees. The TPP, he writes, “may turn out to be the worst trade agreement in decades.”]]>
When it comes to improving the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), fifty years old this year, Republicans and Democrats are working together to achieve reform. Indeed, both the House and the Senate have passed bills that would significantly strengthen FOIA. The bills had overwhelming bipartisan acceptance. No Senator objected to the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, S. 337. The House FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act, H.R. 653, bill passed by voice vote.
The original FOIA law was signed into law on July 4, 1966. Its passage was based on a simple idea: that the public has a right to know how its government operates.
Its champion was Rep. John Moss, a California Democrat who joined Congress when a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, and a Republican Congress, held power, and weren’t interested in the reform ideas of a minority member. But even when party control switched, Moss did not find much support for his ideas about transparency. It took him 12 years go achieve his goal.
Most federal agencies resisted FOIA. President Lyndon Baines Johnson also was leery. But Moss found an ally in then-Republican Representative Donald Rumsfeld. Moss held hearings that exposed secrecy scandals, and journalists pushed for the reform.
FOIA gave the public access to a wide variety of government documents, but did not surrender the keys to the governmental cabinet. It exempted information that could compromise national security, private personnel information, proprietary information, and the exchanges on policy that agencies shared with one another.
In both the House and the Senate, there has been strongly bipartisan support for these current measures. Both bills would put into law the approach to transparency of government information that President Obama signaled on his first day in office.
The President stated that federal agencies should, whenever possible, provide access to government information to the public. Agencies should adopt a “presumption of disclosure,” the President wrote. “In the face of doubt, openness prevails.”
Even with the President stating a very clear preference for transparency, many federal agencies continue to have spotty records when it comes to FOIA. It still takes too long to gain access to federal documents, and often records that should be made available are kept secret or heavily redacted. Indeed, according to recent media accounts , the Obama Department of Justice had lobbied against these FOIA reform bills, efforts that it took a FOIA request to uncover.
If an Administration that began its life with the stated goal of openness has trouble delivering, think how FOIA suffers when an administration is committed to secrecy. That’s why it is crucial that FOIA be strengthened this year. The House and Senate bills both would place the “presumption of openness” of the Obama memo into law, where it would not be subject to the whims of future presidents.
The bills also would encourage the proactive disclosure of documents that are requested, and would require the creation of one single web portal for FOIA requests.
Under current FOIA law, documents that involve deliberations among agencies are exempted from disclosure. Both bills bill would lift that exemption after 25 years. This means that historians trying to understand the development of crucial policies will have access to valuable documents that would otherwise have been denied them.
The bills also make clear that the timely response to FOIA requests should be among agency priorities. And it strengthens the authority of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) and its valuable role in mediating disputes between a FOIA requester and an agency. (However, some openness advocates raised serious concerns about a last-minute addition to the House bill that would protect the disclosure of any information thought to “adversely affect intelligence sources and methods,” no matter how old that information may be.)
FOIA always will be a work in progress. The urge to keep things secret infects the culture of every government. But with the passage of two viable FOIA reform bills this year, the hope is that Congress will not squander this opportunity and ensure that the House and Senate soon agree on one FOIA reform bill that makes it to the president’s desk.]]>
But we also saw a glimmer of hope. It remains possible for the House and Senate to agree on a final bill that contains the best elements of both bills. If that happens, the American public will benefit from a modestly improved chemical safety law that will help the Environmental Protection Agency do a better job protecting us from toxic chemicals.
TSCA was passed in 1976. Since then only a handful of chemicals have been regulated and roughly 200 evaluated, even though tens of thousands of chemicals are sold in the U.S., and hundreds of new chemicals come on line each year. Chemicals pose a risk to many communities—but the danger is biggest for poor neighborhoods and communities of color. After 40 years of inaction, it is crucial that Congress does something to strengthen TSCA—and crucial that we get it right.
Our UCS members and supporters have been with us on this journey, letting their members of Congress know their concerns about the outdated and flawed current TSCA, and urging them to enact a strong reform bill. We have added our voices to the hundreds of thousands of activists who participate in the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition.
Our Center also enriched the debate through its examination of the considerable power of the chemical industry, and how it attempts to influence policy through its political spending and lobbying. We know some major players in chemical industry are pushing against reform, seeking a final law that produces the weakest possible result, and which will also block states from protecting their own citizens from harmful chemicals.
That influence often is measured in just a few words inserted at the last minute. The New York Times reports that a provision inserted in the House version of the bill would make it far more difficult for victims, states and local governments to sue big chemical companies, in particular, Monsanto, for the damage from chemicals that have been banned or tightly regulated by the EPA. This could interfere with pending or future lawsuits over PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, which had been banned by the EPA but were made by Monsanto. Other lawsuits concerning hexavalent chromium, asbestos, and PBDE, the flame retardant, also could be affected by this new and concerning language.
That is why citizen activism is so crucial. It is our best avenue for ensuring that ultimately, Congress listens to the people and legislates for safety.
The House and Senate must approve a final bill that gives the EPA both the authority and the resources to assess toxic chemicals and to regulate them. It must permit states to regulate these chemicals, until and unless the EPA acts. It must protect the rights of citizens and state and local governments to hold companies accountable for the damage their products caused. A final bill must also ensure that science-informed regulation is not hampered by unnecessary procedural hurdles that will slow down this important work.
For this reason, we continue our engagement on this important issue. More than 20,000 of our members and supporters have signed a petition urging members of the House and Senate who are negotiating a final bill to listen to the public, and not to the chemical industry. We will be delivering our petition to the House and Senate this week.
At a time when partisan gridlock is endemic in Congress, it is good news that Democrats and Republicans have worked together to strengthen our current chemical safety law. But bipartisan agreement only is valuable when it produces, in the end, a law that actually improves our environment and protects public health and safety.]]>
The reason this House-passed bill should raise alarms is that it so clearly demonstrates how attacks on science-informed regulations aren’t always about the big bills designed to entirely upend the regulatory process and hamstring all federal agencies.
Other battles are more targeted, small guerrilla-style attacks that in fighting one regulation also include damaging provisions that could set the table for broader regulatory attacks. This tactic also includes the misinformation that is part and parcel of these regulatory attacks.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the passage of the bill a victory for all the small sandwich shop owners in America. But the FDA wasn’t about to impose labeling requirements on “Mom and Pop” sandwich shops. Its mandatory labeling requirement applies to food operations that include 20 retail outlets or more, including grocery store delis, convenience stores, and movie theaters. At chain food outlets, you don’t have artisanal cooking going on. For the most part, you have consumers ordering from a set menu.
In its explanation of the rule, the FDA observes that this country now faces an epidemic of diabetes and other diseases that are linked to obesity, and that Americans now consume about one-third of their calories outside the home. The FDA rule required that consumers be informed about how many calories are in the food they consume away from home.
This is not a radical idea. It was mandated by the Affordable Care Act, and will help the nation hold down healthcare costs and reduce the incidence of chronic disease. In many parts of the country, including New York City, food outlets already have menu labeling requirements.
Public health advocates endorsed the FDA rule, noting that calorie labeling was supported by 80 percent of Americans, and that more information “would allow people to make their own, informed choices about how many calories to eat at a time when obesity rates are at a record high.”
Some studies show that consumers are likely to eat fewer calories if they have this information. There also is some evidence that, after they post their calories, companies voluntarily find ways to make their recipes healthier.
The National Restaurant Association thought this was a good idea, ensuring that all the major players were following the same rules. Also supporting the FDA rules were Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins. Many big-name chains like McDonald’s already do this, and more.
But many grocery and convenience stores disagreed. A huge part of the opposition came from “Big Pizza.” Major campaign contributor Domino’s got its dough in a knot over this. It made the absurd contention that since pizza comes in all different combinations, an estimated 34 million of them, that it would be nearly impossible to estimate calories.
34 million? Oh please. Like all the other pizza chains, Domino’s has a menu of pizza standards. Those pizzas, routinely on the menu, would be subject to nutrition labeling, not every possible variation of pizza, although certainly it would be in the realm of the possible to list the calories contained in pizza toppings.
The idea that franchise owners of fast-food places must devote lots of manpower to figuring out caloric values is preposterous. Franchisees get their ingredients and specific instructions about how to mix those ingredients, from the franchise. That’s why a McDonald’s burger in Texas tastes the same as one in D.C. or Chicago.
House supporters of the bill were touting wildly inflated cost estimates per store. But the Center for Science in the Public Interest estimates that costs of the menu analysis would be about $45,000 per chain, not store.
There was a two-stage opposition to the menu labeling rule. The first successful step was to pressure the FDA to delay its implementation date by a full year, giving food outlets covered by the rule until the end of 2016 to comply.
But delay wasn’t enough. The next step was to sabotage the FDA’s work altogether. Enter the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act.
Here’s what this bill does, or should I say, undoes. The FDA wants restaurants to tell us how many calories are contained in one standard menu item. That’s pretty straightforward. I buy a McDonald’s Big Mac; McDonald’s tells me how many calories I’m consuming.
But this bill will let food outlets play games. They can decide that a “serving” is actually one-half a sandwich or a very small slice of pizza, so that if a consumer is not reading carefully, it will be easy to assume that the sandwich I’m enjoying is only 375 calories, when in truth, I’m packing in 750 calories.
Also, food outlets covered by the House bill would not have to give equal access to information to all customers. If more than half of customers ordered their food remotely and then picked it up, a retail outlet would only have to provide the calorie information online. No information would be provided to walk-ins.
And the bill weakens any attempts to enforce the regulation.
It eliminates any requirement that a business certifies to the FDA, in writing, that it is complying with the regulation. And if this were not bad enough, there is an additional, sneaky language in the bill that not only affects federal efforts to require calorie information but also state efforts. Many states and cities already have taken the lead in menu labeling requirements. But regardless of what these elected officials may have permitted in their own regulations, the House-passed bill exempts all food outlets subject to any of these labeling requirements from being sued by citizens for non-compliance. There will be no way for citizens to hold any business accountable, no matter how flagrant the violation.
And once the FDA imposes its federal menu labeling requirements, this bill also forecloses any opportunity for states to ask the FDA to permit them to impose more expansive disclosure laws on the food establishments covered by this regulation. (It was a small window of opportunity for states, but this bill would close it entirely.)
One can see this type of language silently making its way into other regulatory bills, undercutting state and local governments before they even have a chance to protest.
This bill would muddle all the FDA’s careful rulemaking, and would delay any final regulation from taking effect by at least two more years. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the extra work will set the menu rule back by several years and cost the FDA $9 million!
But what is really unjust about these House shenanigans is the people who will be the primary victims. Not I, and likely not most of you. We may patronize places like Panera or Au Bon Pain, which cater to people with a bit of disposable income who live in the suburbs or affluent city neighborhoods. They are not in the inner city. These outlets already are providing nutrition information.
The people who end up paying the price when our elected officials shape the rules to shield certain corporations are low-income families, many of them people of color, whose health is already compromised because they live in food deserts, and have less disposable income to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. The few options they do have to select relatively healthier food should not be sabotaged by special interests.
Obesity is an epidemic in this country, but it is striking people of color even more. Diseases linked to obesity like diabetes are two times more likely to occur in black adults than white adults. Pretending this labeling requirement is some huge burden on large companies is a distraction. Not labeling burdens real people, by hiding information they need to make their own choices.
I will be very happy when the month of January is over. The blizzard that now is paralyzing the Washington, D.C. seems an apt metaphor for what is happening on Capitol Hill. In Washington, a blizzard of bad ideas threatens to cripple our generations-old bipartisan framework of laws enacted to keep American families and our environment safe.
These congressional efforts seem all the more troubling in light of January’s revelations that Flint, Michigan’s citizens, particularly its children, have been the victims of a massive disregard for human health, and that federal agencies and the state government failed to act fast enough and aggressively enough to fulfill their missions to serve the public.
The Flint tragedy is all the more poignant because it reflects a dramatic disconnect between the legitimate expectations of the American public and the priorities of too many of our elected officials, who are more focused on getting rid of regulations than enforcing them.
Almost from the first day of 2016, some members of Congress have continued their war on federal agencies and the way they use science to protect us from a host of dangers —from polluted air and water to tainted food and unsafe products, and hazards that would degrade our environment or destabilize or economy.
Beginning on January 7, the House of Representatives began votes on bills that would put federal agency science in jeopardy. These bills always have “clever” names. A good example is H.R. 1155, the SCRUB (Searching for & Cutting Regulations That Are Unnecessarily Burdensome) Act.
The SCRUB Act would create a commission of “experts” who would recommend regulations that should be cut or weakened. The idea is to reduce the cumulative cost of compliance to businesses by 15 percent, not to protect the public. So the commission would not be asked to strengthen existing rules, or develop new ones to respond to emerging hazards. Its sole focus would be saving corporations money.
What makes this idea even more pernicious is that it is linked to a new, unreasonable mandate on agencies. An agency could not implement a new regulation until it could find a regulation to cut, one that was on the new commission’s hit list.
Does that make sense to you? The President already has asked federal agencies to look at their older rules and see if any of them are unnecessary or duplicative. The agencies have done a good job weeding them out. Do we really want life-saving rules held hostage until agencies must scramble to find a rule that the public can live without?
Recently, rules were developed to address the growing problem of trains carrying very flammable crude oil exploding and causing millions of dollars in damage and the loss of lives. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and other members of Congress complained that the federal government wasn’t acting fact enough. And yet, if SCRUB were enacted, these new rules could have been delayed for months, even years.
During that same week, the House also passed H.R. 712, the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, a trifecta of bad ideas. (In this Congress, beware of any House bill that includes “sunshine” or “transparency” in its title.)
It included proposals to make it much more difficult for members of the public to sue federal agencies that are not enforcing existing regulations, and to delay crucial regulations by requiring them to be posted online for six months before they can be enacted, even though the public has already had a chance to weigh in on them. The bill also proposed that agencies develop 100-word summaries for each regulation, exposing them to the threat that if those summaries were not comprehensive or accurate enough, an agency could be challenged in court.
And just to cap things off, the following week, the House passed H.R. 1644, the STREAM (Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining) Act. This time, the House target was the Department of Interior, and its ability to ensure that mining waste does not pollute our streams and waterways.
It would impose “transparency” mandates that would require the science underlying regulations be disclosed 90 days before a rule or guidance is published, even when the research had not yet appeared in a scientific journal. Agencies don’t own all the scientific research that informs their decisions. But if they fail to meet the 90-day deadline, the rule will be delayed; if the delay goes on for six months, the rule is canceled. Worse, the bill would require an expensive, unnecessary study that would block science-based regulations to protect our waterways.
Our Center for Science and Democracy strongly opposed all three bills, as did the White House, which issued strong veto threats for each of them. In opposing the STREAM Act, the Administration warned that it would set back stream protection efforts by three years, jeopardizing the access of communities to clean water.
While votes on regulatory issues like these tend to be lopsided, with House Republicans largely in support, and House Democrats opposed, the STREAM Act also drew the opposition of ten House Republicans.
Just to top things off, January has been a time of waiting in the Senate. Any day now, we are expecting a regulatory working group, composed of four Republican and four Democratic Senators, to introduce a package of legislative proposals that could be very harmful to our regulatory process. That group includes Sen. Heitkamp, the same senator who pushed for faster action on oil train rules.
We don’t know quite what the package will contain, but based on media reports, we know what alarms us. It could make independent agencies more vulnerable to judicial challenge and political interference, create a commission to look at regulations that are ten years old or older and recommend which rules to cut or gut, and impose many more procedural burdens on agencies that now are scrambling to protect the public and the environment with limited resources and staff. The entire package views regulations through the lens of corporations, and their goal of reducing the cost of compliance. These proposals show little concern for the costs of not regulating that American families bear.
If the lesson of Flint tells us anything, it is that rules matter. Municipal drinking water does not stay safe if regulations are not in place, if governments and companies don’t follow them, and if federal agencies lack the authority—and in some cases, the courage—they need to compel safety measures.
If only Congress would understand what seems so obvious to the rest of us.]]>
What’s the holdup? Delay largely results from a fight over issues that should not be part of the budget at all. We call these policy proposals “riders,” but that’s too kind a name for them. Better to call them budget cockroaches. They like the dark, they multiply, and they are very destructive. They lurk in either House or Senate spending bills. That means that they are fair game for inclusion in the budget negotiations.
What would these policy riders do? Here’s a selection, pulled from two previous blogs I’ve written, and a few new ones that have cropped up:
Hitting another brick wall on silica. This rider would once again delay a protective rule to prevent any more construction workers from experiencing serious respiratory problems or even lung cancer because of exposure to silica dust. While the dangers of exposure are well known and well documented, this rider would spend nearly $1 million on yet another study by the National Academy of Sciences to provide “epidemiological justification” for reducing exposure limits. The rule, first initiated in 2011, also couldn’t move forward until small businesses weigh in.
Halting crucial disclosures about political donations. One rider would prevent the President from requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending. Another rider would prevent the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring publicly traded companies from making similar disclosures. Our Center for Science and Democracy supports both disclosure proposals.
Our CSD reports have tracked the toxic link between political spending and public policies advanced by wealthy fossil fuel and chemical companies. Our members have strongly supported more disclosure.
Sabotaging science-informed nutrition advice. Really? Riders would make it very difficult for the federal dietary guidelines to give any meaningful guidance to American families about the importance of exercise as well as diet, or to endorse a diet that emphasizes fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meat and fish to prevent both obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Exempting flavored e-cigarettes from regulation by the FDA. Heaven forbid that the FDA might want to ensure that teens don’t get hooked on a potent nicotine delivery system.
Blocking expert advice to the Environmental Protection Agency: A proposal purportedly on “conflicts of interest” on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) actually is a sneaky device to make it easier for industry connected folks to serve on the SAB and more difficult for scientific experts to participate. Worst of all, until the EPA actually addresses the so-called flaws in its current SAB conflict-of-interest policies, and puts together recommendations based on congressional mandates that aim to tilt the playing field away from expertise, the SAB’s crucial work is suspended. This proposal is very similar to a bad House bill we fought earlier this year.
This is just a glimpse into the riders that remain threats until the final budget deal is completed. If you haven’t called your member of Congress and asked for a clean budget, without these noxious policy proposals, there’s still time.
Ask members to kill the cockroaches and pass a clean budget bill.]]>
To most of us, December is a time for cookies, gifts and holiday parties. But if your job is advocating for science and democracy in Washington, D.C., the month of December is far less cheery: This is the time for a budget showdown.
The House and Senate and the President all must agree on spending bills for the 2016 fiscal year, bills that should have been voted on by October 1.
Those decisions are being made right now. Deadline for spending bills is December 11. Figuring out spending is always difficult. What makes the process downright dangerous is the presence of hundreds of budget “riders”—provisions about public policy that hitch a ride on must-pass bills, often with little public notice or scrutiny.
Last June, I wrote about some of these riders. I wish I could say that the problem has been solved. But it hasn’t. Indeed, it seems that every day, we find a new rider that would harm public health, the environment and agency science.
These riders would be holiday “gifts” from individual members of Congress to please deep-pocketed special interests that want to place profits above public health, safety and the environment. For the rest of us, a rider-laden spending bill would be as welcome as a holiday case of the flu.
Indeed, in the environmental arena alone, our colleagues have identified well over 100 dangerous policy riders in pending budget bills, or about triple what they’ve seen in previous years. Fortunately, the urgency of the problem has galvanized organizations working for worker safety, public health, civil rights, a clean environment, consumer protections, and a host of other issues to come together to oppose all of these ideological riders and to push for a “clean” budget.
Here are a few riders that the Center for Science and Democracy is most concerned about:
Political interference in the dietary guidelines: Every five years, the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services convene a panel of nutrition experts to give science-based advice to Americans about how to eat healthily. This should be pretty noncontroversial, but there are riders in both House and Senate spending bills that would meddle with that expert advice. What’s upset Congress is the idea that the dietary guidelines should not only address our health but the health of the planet as well.
A House rider imposes a new standard for scientific evidence underpinning any changes to the 2010 guidelines that is so high it would be virtually impossible to give any meaningful advice. There is ample scientific evidence that eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with low-fat dairy and fish, helps reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes and obesity. But the guidelines could not make the connection between these recommendations and their role in improving our health in specific ways.
A Senate rider would require that the guidelines address only diet and nutrition and nothing else. Reminding Americans of the importance of both diet and exercise in maintaining health would be out of bounds. And while the guidelines could still recommend reductions in sugar intake, they could not endorse giving consumers more information about added sugars through the Food and Drug Administration’s nutrition facts panel, or other food product labeling. Both these riders could delay the guidelines and/or render them much less useful.
Attacking a science-informed ozone rule: The Environmental Protection Agency, after much deliberation and informed by the conclusions of a science advisory panel, proposed a new standard to reduce the level of ozone permitted in the air we breathe. Ground-level ozone, which results from industrial pollution and auto emissions, greatly exacerbates asthma and other respiratory illnesses. An estimated one in ten American school children has asthma.
Many critics felt the ozone standard wasn’t low enough to fully protect public health. But even this modest attempt to reduce our exposure to pollution was opposed by some members of Congress. A rider would block the EPA from implementing a new ozone standard until most counties in the U.S. (85 percent) are complying with the current standard. The EPA should set the standard based on protecting our health, not on how easy it is to comply with it. This rider is a delaying tactic that defeats the science and harms the public.
Rolling back efforts to enhance fracking safety: A House rider would deny funds to the federal Bureau of Land Management to implement its new regulation imposing safety requirements on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on federal lands. If that wasn’t bad enough, another rider tries to prevent the EPA from even studying the potential impacts of fracking on our water supply. The federal government has left fracking regulation largely to the states, but federal regulators should have the authority to determine what it will permit on public lands, our environmental legacy. And citizens living in areas considering fracking ought to be able to benefit from high-quality research about its potential impacts on their drinking water. These riders fly in the face of bedrock American values.
Undermining the Endangered Species Act: A record number of riders are proposed in both the House and Senate to attack the Endangered Species Act and the government’s ability to use science to inform its decisions to protect the gray wolf, the greater sage grouse, and other species at risk.
Indeed, 20 pro-environment Senators were so alarmed, they wrote to the President this month, asking him to stay strong in his defense of agency efforts to preserve our biodiversity.
What makes this rider fight so deplorable is the fact that legislative attacks are mostly happening in secret. In a democracy, members of Congress can challenge the Clean Air Act or the dietary guidelines, or advocate for no regulation of fracking. But they should do it out in the open, in a debate, where we all can hear their arguments, and they can be challenged.
Instead, riders are like chips in a high-stakes poker game. How much do you want funding for a crucial federal program? How many riders will you need to accept to convince me to go along? Who will be the first to fold? Who will be blamed if there is a budget stalemate and the government shuts down?
Our Center for Science and Democracy has been working with close to 200 environmental, labor, public health, faith, campaign finance, civil rights, social justice, and consumer groups to tell Congress to pass a “Clean” budget – one without these damaging ideological riders.
We’ve been meeting with members of Congress, Congressional leaders, and with White House officials to make our request crystal clear: A budget laden with harmful riders is not acceptable.
The good news is: We live in a democracy. Every voter needs to deliver the same message to Congress: Pass a “clean” budget bill. It’s a simple request, but it will make a world of difference.]]>
At UCS, we’re very concerned that bad elements in the House-passed transportation bill might make their way into the final bill, now being negotiated between the House and Senate.
H.R. 22, the transportation bill, is primarily about maintaining and repairing roads and bridges and public transit. But it’s become huge, with lots of moving parts. Many of the provisions in the House-passed bill will not benefit the public and our environment.
I’ll just focus on a couple of provisions that are concerning to us:
Despite the protests of more than 150 labor, environmental, public health, public interest, and small business groups in the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, as well as our own Center for Science and Democracy, earlier this month the House approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. David Young (R-IA)
Like the infamous “secret science” bill, the Young amendment pretends to be about transparency, when its real impact would be to stymie science-informed regulation.
Any federal agency covered by the transportation bill would be required to make the science informing all its regulations, no matter how small or insignificant, including cost-benefit analyses and other data, accessible to the public. The Young amendment is written so vaguely that the experts can’t agree on what it actually means.
But there’s a real danger that federal agencies would interpret it to mean that they would be limited in how they regulate. Much of the best science informing what agencies do either resides in long-term health data, which includes private health information that must be kept confidential, or confidential business information.
Corporations might use this provision to question how much of the science that informed a regulation really was accessible to the public. If corporations and other special interests sued agencies, how would judges respond? Even if agencies won these cases, the litigation itself would sap their resources.
Will federal agencies decide to avoid all hassle or possible court challenges and rely only on public information to do their work? Or will agencies continue to rely on this information and then risk being taken to court?
Either way you look at it, the Young amendment is a threat to agency science. Indeed, when the bill was considered in the House, nearly all Democrats and eleven Republican members opposed it.
In addition to this attack on scientific process in the federal government, the transportation bill also contains several provisions that our colleagues down the hall in the Clean Vehicles group care about. Specifically, there are several provisions that would undermine the historic fuel economy and carbon pollution standards that were put in place for cars and trucks.
Consumers are saving money at the pump as new, more efficient models of vehicles are being sold, but an amendment added to the House transportation bill seeks to create a loophole for natural gas vehicles by giving them more credits than they deserve. Another House-passed amendment would exempt some small volume vehicle manufacturers from existing safety and tailpipe emission standards.
And then there’s the language that we are concerned will be added in the conference process. Dave Cooke wrote a blog about these provisions that would give away fuel efficiency credits for safety features that automakers are already incorporating into vehicles. Given the recent revelations about VW—the last thing we need right now is a backdoor deal that allows the automakers to game the system and significantly undermine the climate and oil-saving benefits of the fuel economy standards.
The transportation bill is must-pass legislation that helps fund our highways and traffic safety programs—it is shameful that some members of Congress are trying to use it to undermine science and public health at the behest of special interests.
Your call or email to your member of Congress, both House and Senate, can make a difference as these conference negotiations continue over the next few days. It is a busy time for all of us, but as citizens, we should, when we can, raise our voice against these damaging provisions. They don’t deserve a free ride.]]>
Or a defective ignition switch on more than a million cars that caused more than 100 deaths. Carmaker General Motors is paying more than $1 billion in fines because it concealed the problem for years. As auto safety advocate Clarence Ditlow observes, GM spent millions of dollars lobbying to ensure that federal laws lacked criminal penalties for auto executives whose actions cost lives.
It could be a drug, like the blood-thinner Pradaxa, approved by the FDA, that later turned out to have catastrophic consequences. An investigation by the Project on Government Oversight, released last month, faults the Food and Drug Administration for approving the drug, which can cause severe bleeding in some patients, even though there was no antidote to this life-threatening side effect.
In each case, the regulatory process was on trial. And in each case, and so many more, what was uncovered was that either the laws or regulations were too weak or non-existent, or resource-starved agencies failed to monitor regulated industries well enough.
Science-informed regulation is the best way for our government to prevent tens of thousands of deaths, injuries, and billions of dollars in property damage that result from shoddy products or poor oversight of hazardous materials.
And yet instead of strengthening the role of science in regulation, and working hard to make sure our laws and regulations actually protect us, many members of Congress have done the opposite: They are doing all they can to weaken an already weak system.
On October 7, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee met to consider four very flawed bills. All of the bills addressed the process agencies use to issue regulations, which causes most people to immediately yawn and change the subject.
But these process bills are dangerous and damaging precisely because they don’t look like they’re doing anything particularly harmful. Think of them as stealth attacks on the environment and public health and safety.
True, these bills were approved by just one Senate committee. Nevertheless, this is a very dangerous time for bad ideas in Congress. The House already has approved similar anti-regulatory bills. And without going through a formal vote in both House and Senate, these bills can easily be transformed into amendments—or riders—that get attached to must-pass budget or other bills in a last-minute legislative flurry in these final months of 2015.
I will focus on the three Senate bills that are the most damaging. They all have names that make them sound as threatening as a tuna sandwich. It is their deceptive blandness that makes them particularly lethal.
The bill that most directly attacks science is the inaccurately named Principled Rulemaking Act, S. 1818. The bill’s sponsor, Oklahama Senator James Lankford, claims that the bill makes permanent what has long been the practice in agency rulemaking, but that’s just not true. It goes much farther. It would impose very inflexible mandates on agencies when they tried to justify their rules, including a requirement that agencies choose the least costly rule. But we have laws on the books such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act that tell agencies that their first priority should be public health and safety and preserving the environment, not cost. The language in S. 1818 is really a back-door way to repeal these longstanding bipartisan landmark laws.
The bill attacks science in two different sections. One section requires agencies to publicly disclose the “relevant scientific and technical findings” informing the regulation in an “open, searchable, and downloadable format.” But many of the studies crucial to agency rulemaking cannot be disclosed, since they include confidential health information, or confidential business information.
A last-minute addition to the bill reinforces this demand and adds new requirements. The bill lets agencies know that they will be held accountable for ensuring that the science they use is not only “publicly accessible” but also “reproducible.” But agencies should not be restricted to use only information that fits these categories. You can’t reproduce a long-term health study assessing the damage from exposure to a toxic chemical, or climate studies that examine climate changes over hundreds of years.
Agencies that ignored this “advice” from Congress, however, could have their science challenged in court. Agencies cannot regulate if they are not able to be informed by confidential health data or confidential business information or data that cannot be reproduced.
If this language sounds familiar, it should. It echoes the “Secret Science” bill that was approved by the House earlier this year and received a veto threat from the President.
But the House-passed bill would hamper science at just one agency, the Environmental Protection Agency. The Senate bill, while not as drastic in its restrictions, covers science at all federal agencies, including independent agencies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The second bill, S. 1607, the Independent Regulatory Agency Analysis Act, would greatly harm independent agencies that use science to protect the public and the environment, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Congress created independent agencies to operate with a bipartisan commission structure, and to insulate them from White House pressure.
Congress felt these agencies’ missions were so important and involved such complex technical matters that they needed extra protection from political interference. We know that scientists working at executive branch agencies, which lack that extra layer of independence, do feel the political heat. Our latest scientist survey of nearly 7,000 scientists at four agencies revealed that more than 45 percent of the scientists who responded believe that political interference at their respective agencies is too high.
But this bill would let any President break right through that layer of independence, and order independent agencies to get their proposed regulations analyzed by the White House office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). OIRA critiques of regulations would be fair game for any wealthy special interest wishing to challenge an agency rule in court. If this bill became law, it definitely would have an impact on any scientist, economist, engineer or other technical expert working at an independent agency. Their judgments, which help inform agency rules, would be second-guessed and much more vulnerable to political interference and micro-managing by activist judges.
The third bill, S. 708, the Regulatory Improvement Act, is kind of like a Rube Goldberg contraption—sort of a jerry-built structure that really doesn’t work very well. S. 708 would create an independent nine-member commission to evaluate rules in effect for ten years or longer and put together a “hit list” of rules to cut or gut. The Commission’s recommendations would get just an up-or-down vote from Congress under expedited legislative procedures that allow for little meaningful debate or consideration. No changes permitted. You can see all the damage that this bill could create. Nine commission members couldn’t begin to have all the expertise they would need to assess regulations that run the gamut from train and truck speeds to food safety and nuclear power plant regulations. Even Delaware Senator Tom Carper, a lawmaker known for his bonhomie and courtesy who rarely criticizes his colleagues, called the bill “wrongheaded.”
The Senate Homeland Security committee did not vote on this bill, but not because it is unwise. Some members did not think the bill went far enough. They wanted to hobble agencies even more. Iowa Senator Jodi Ernst, for example, proposed that whenever an agency adds a regulation, it should be required to subtract a regulation of equal cost to the economy. The harm that could come from this concept is immeasurable. What would happen when there is an emerging danger the government needs to address—like an Ebola epidemic or the problem of unsafe rail cars carrying loads of crude oil across the country? Would agencies need to take crucial time away from dealing with emergencies to try to figure out what regulations they could do without?
As Congress begins work in earnest on agency spending bills, all these legislative proposals could end up attached to a huge “omnibus” spending bill. Congress has until December 11 to pass spending bills. If Congress fails to act on time, the government could shut down. We must do all we can to make sure no damaging riders are included on this spending bill.
Stealth bills are no longer stealth if they are called out. In the coming weeks, we will use this blog space to keep you informed about dangers to science and our regulatory process, so that when we ask for your engagement, you will be ready to help us and help democracy.]]>