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Chemical Industry Aims to Defeat State Toxic Safety Measures

States are new battlegrounds in war to reform toxic chemical laws. In statehouses across the country, the chemical industry has worked to defeat bills that would ban certain chemicals or prompt more disclosure about their risks. In Connecticut, a bill requiring health officials to list chemicals posing a danger to children died after aggressive lobbying from the American Chemistry Council, the industry’s dominant trade group. In Washington state, the ACC helped kill legislation seeking to ban two toxic flame retardants from children’s products and prevent them from being replaced with other chemicals of high concern. An ACC spokesman said his group works to “ensure public policy is balanced and formulated in the right way for all Americans.” The Center for Public Integrity

Philip Morris spent millions fighting major European Union tobacco legislation. The European parliament was due to vote this week on a proposal that would ban flavored tobacco products and slim cigarettes as well as require warning labels covering 75 percent of the front and back of cigarette packs. But, in a victory for the tobacco lobby, the vote has been delayed until Oct. 8. “There is little time to get the directive passed before this parliament comes to an end and the whole process has to start again,” a health advocate said. Newly revealed documents show Philip Morris International used 161 lobbyists to meet repeatedly with parliament members. Health officials want the legislation introduced before January when Greece, which opposes tobacco-control, assumes the union’s presidency. As FairWarning has reported, giant tobacco companies are increasingly trying to block countries from adopting anti-smoking measures, often by invoking provisions in international trade agreements. The Guardian

Proposed mine pits Chippewa tribes against Wisconsin governor. Gov. Scott Walker, fellow Republican lawmakers and labor unions are championing a $1.5 billion open pit iron ore mine planned for a site six miles from the Bad River Reservation. Critics of the mine say it would wreak “environmental devastation.” Six Chippewa tribes recently sent a letter to President Obama, asking the Department of the Interior to prepare litigation protecting the area’s 70 miles of rivers and streams flowing north into Lake Superior. In March, Walker signed a bill streamlining the approval process and easing environmental rules for the mine. Policymakers in other states are watching the issue closely as they re-evaluate their mining laws. USA Today

Meat inspection program coming to pork processors nationwide failed to stop contamination at pilot plants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to roll out a pork inspection program that would increase processing speeds and replace many USDA inspectors with meat company employees. But the approach has repeatedly failed to stop contamination at American and foreign plants that piloted the approach. Three of the five U.S. pork plants trying the system were among the country’s 10 worst offenders for health and safety violations, an audit found. There have also been problems in other countries using the new system to produce red meat for the U.S. Last fall, a Canadian plant recalled 8.8 million pounds of E. coli-tainted beef  — including 2.5 million pounds that reached the U.S. market. Inspectors blamed the problem partly on faster line speeds. The Washington Post

Miami’s inaction on pollution from shuttered trash incinerator angers residents. City officials discovered in 2011 that a long-defunct city incinerator had left lasting soil contamination in the historically black neighborhood of West Grove. But residents were not informed and found out only this year, when a graduate student stumbled on the information. City officials have not even drafted a plan for how they will deal with it the problem. Soil samples show elevated levels of arsenic, barium, lead and pollutants including highly carcinogenic benzopyrene. A law professor investigating the issue said, “They burdened a Jim Crow community with an incinerator for 45 years without any benefits and then have apparently, for 43 years, either suppressed information or neglected their public health duties to investigate and report it.” Miami Herald

Compiled by Bridget Huber

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