Obama Victory Stokes Hopes for Action on Climate Change

President’s mention of “the destructive power of a warming planet” in victory speech encourages environmental activists. Obama’s avoidance of the issue during the campaign could make it tricky for the president to now claim that he was elected to act on global warming. The Republicans’ continued control of the House of Representatives also should limit his options. But environmentalists said superstorm Sandy and the endorsement from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, based on Obama’s perceived position on climate change, open possibilities. His administration is expected to move to tighten rules on energy exploration, and he has pledged more support for renewable energy technologies. The Guardian, Reuters

California voters defeat labeling initiative for genetically engineered foods. Proposition 37 — which was backed by organic foods firms and consumer groups but battered by negative industry-financed TV ads and critical newspaper editorials — was voted down, with 53.1 percent against and 46.9 percent in favor. “California voters clearly saw through Proposition 37 and rejected higher food costs, more lawsuits and more bureaucracy,” said Henry I. Miller, a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution think tank and a spokesman for the campaign against the measure. But supporters said the effort educated the public about the right to know about the ingredients in food. Los Angeles Times

Tests find excessive lead levels in drinking water of Denver homes. A regular survey by authorities in the Colorado city found that the lead in eight of the 60 homes evaluated exceeded the federal standard by as much as 3.8 times. While sources of Denver water traditionally have been safe, more than half of homes may have lead pipes — either inside the houses or connecting them to water mains. The lead can get into the water if the pipes are cut or corroding. Doctors “do see elevated blood levels [of lead] in Denver and other counties around Colorado,” said a senior official with the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment. She recommended testing of low-income children, who are especially at risk. The Denver Post

Radioactive leak at Washington’s Hanford nuclear reservation raises concerns. Late last month the U.S. Energy Department revealed a slow leak in the oldest of the site’s 28 double-shell waste tanks, saying a small amount of toxic stew was leaking into the space between its inner and outer walls. The agency said no material is believed to have leaked into the environment. The reservation near Richland, Wash., is the site of the nation’s largest collection of deadly wastes, which come from nuclear weapons production dating back to World War II’s top-secret Manhattan Project. But that is little comfort to state officials frustrated by long-delayed federal efforts to finish a plant to treat the waste.  The Associated Press

Illinois firm that cleans tank trailers cited for 11 alleged workplace safety violations. The charges by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration against Lansing, Ill.,-based Dedicated TCS included two willful violations, the agency’s most serious offense. OSHA, which proposed penalties of $142,100, said the company failed to protect employees working in confined spaces. Among other problems, the agency said Dedicated did not provide either a mechanical lifting device that could help rescue trapped workers or employ an attendant to monitor the safety of workers operating within confined spaces. Monitoring workers in such areas is “vital to their safety and health,” an OSHA official said. OSHA

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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