“Since 2010, at least three ruptured pipelines have spilled oil into U.S. neighborhoods, forcing officials to decide quickly whether local residents would be harmed if they breathed the foul air,” but InsideClimate News reports that “because there are no clear federal guidelines saying if or when the public should be evacuated during an oil spill, health officials had to use a patchwork of scientific and regulatory data designed for other situations.”
“Other federal guidelines limit the amount of benzene that manufacturing plants can emit, or set standards for transporting benzene on the nation’s highways… Without specific rules to help them, health authorities confronted with oil spills usually turn to these disparate guidelines and scientific studies to decide whether an evacuation is needed.”
“After oil spills, public health decisions usually fall to county or state officials. In Mayflower, those decisions were made by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), which set a benzene threshold of 50 ppb… InsideClimate News tried to compare that 50 ppb guideline with guidelines established by other agencies, but found that it was virtually impossible to make a direct comparison.”
The highly anticipated Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action in admissions to public universities, Fisher v. University of Texas, will likely come out on a Monday or Thursday in June. John Cassidy explains why the US still needs affirmative action.
“Set aside, for a moment, the explosive issue of black or brown versus white, which underpins much of the discussion about affirmative action… Having lived in the United States for almost thirty years, I am always amazed that Americans persist in believing that this is a land of unparalleled opportunity and social mobility… for all too many working-class Americans—and a lot of them aren’t members of minority groups—U.S. society is less of a launchpad than a glue trap.”
“The motivating force wouldn’t be righting the wrongs of slavery… It would be a desire to make real the vision of a society in which rewards are based on effort and talent, rather than family connections. And that, surely, should be something that even some conservatives could sign onto.”
Reuters reports on President Obama’s refusal, thus far, to utilize the National Environmental Policy Act to incorporate the cost of greenhouse gas emissions in approving federal projects.
“NEPA forces officials to consider the environment before approving federal projects… In early 2010, the White House suggested it would make an update to NEPA that would require counting greenhouse gas emissions among the impacts worthy of a NEPA review. But those standards have been on ice ever since they were written.”
“Several former U.S. officials said the White House is at least a year away from blessing a climate change component of NEPA – if such a move is taken at all.”
The post White House Continues to Weigh Climate Change Options appeared first in Taegan Goddard's Wonk Wire on rollcall.com.
As the budget debate and debt ceiling drama heat up again in Washington, DC, credit rating agency Moody’s is weighing reducing the US’s perfect Aaa credit rating, following S&P’s downgrade in 2011. Expected Loss looks at whether such a move makes any sense.
“But given the US GDP is growing, while Europe is in a recession, can it make any sense to downgrade the US? Remember, the rating agencies claim their ratings are RELATIVE measures of risk. In other words, the rating agencies are ranking each country relative to other countries.”
“Our guess is that what’s happening here is the result of a fair share of awkwardness surrounding a situation in which many of the rating agencies’ outstanding ratings may not reflect their current opinions. If they delayed implementing the downgrade since the US first failed to meet the relevant criteria necessary to maintain the AAA rating, they would now look a little silly downgrading so long after the fact, now that the economy has stabilized, or turned the corner.”
“With the deadline for states to implement Affordable Care Act-mandated health insurance exchanges less than four months away… States are having to reevaluate their existing health insurance infrastructures to meet the act’s requirements,” the Washington Post reports.
“Several states — including California, Oregon and New York — have already set up exchanges, secured vendors, built system infrastructure and created Web sites to educate consumers. These states are now shifting their focus to developing marketing and outreach strategies for the new systems.”
“States that have opted to use federally provided health insurance marketplaces are still awaiting the exchanges, and concerns persist over whether these exchanges will integrate with state health and human service computer systems.”
The post Setting Up Obamacare Exchanges Comes Down to the Wire appeared first in Taegan Goddard's Wonk Wire on rollcall.com.
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