Environmental Protections Threatened by Sequestration and Funding Cuts

Federal agencies have started feeling the impact of the across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration, that went into effect March 1. Plans to furlough employees and cut programs are underway at many of the agencies charged with issuing and enforcing public health and safety standards. For the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these additional funding cuts will further drain already decreasing resources and impair the agency’s ability to protect our air, water, and health. Continue reading “Environmental Protections Threatened by Sequestration and Funding Cuts”

Where Did All Our Pensions Go?

AFL-CIO Now

10/07/2012; Jackie Tortora

The Betrayal of the American Dream

A total of 84,350 pension plans have vanished since 1985. This figure shocked Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Donald L. Barlett and James W. Steele, who just released their latest book, “The Betrayal of the American Dream.” Their chapter on retirement chronicles the heist of the American dream’s secure retirement by the financial elite and is a very important section of the book, says Steele, who spoke with the AFL-CIO about the retirement crisis. Steele says there is another number we should pay attention to: $17,686. That’s the median value of 401(k) accounts in 2011. For most working people, the amount in their 401(k) account would pay them less than $80 a month for life.

“What’s happening with retirement is almost parallel to what you see happening in other parts of the economy,” says Steele. Continue reading “Where Did All Our Pensions Go?”

Report Evaluates Scientific Capabilities of the EPA

Report Evaluates Scientific Capabilities of the EPA
Wed, 09/05/2012 – 11:02am
National Academy of Sciences

The National Research Council‘s newest report released today, SCIENCE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: THE ROAD AHEAD, assesses the EPA’s capabilities to develop, obtain and use the best available new scientific and technological information and tools to meet challenges and opportunities across the agency’s programs.

Summary

The stated mission of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. Since its formation in 1970, EPA has had a leadership role in developing many fields of environmental science and engineering. From ecology to health sciences and environmental engineering to analytic chemistry, EPA has performed, stimulated, and supported research; developed environmental education programs; supported regional science initiatives; supported safer technologies; and enhanced the scientific basis of informed decision-making. Science has always been an integral part of EPA’s mission and is essential for providing the best-quality foundation of agency decisions. Today the agency’s science is increasingly in the public eye, federal budgets are decreasing, and job creation and innovation are key national priorities.

In anticipation of future environmental science and engineering challenges and technologic advances, EPA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to assess the overall capabilities of the agency to develop, obtain, and use the best available scientific and technologic information and tools to meet persistent, emerging, and future mission challenges and opportunities. The NRC was also asked to identify and assess transitional options to strengthen the agency’s capability to pursue and use scientific information and tools. In response, the NRC convened the Committee on Science for EPA’s Future, which prepared the present report. Continue reading “Report Evaluates Scientific Capabilities of the EPA”