Acting chief of U.S. auto safety agency questions GM’s position on the toll taken by its safety flaw. “We believe it’s likely that more than 13 lives were lost,” said David Friedman, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “GM knew about the safety defect” he added, referring to an ignition switch problem that can disable a vehicle’s air bags, “but did not act to protect Americans from that defect until this year.” The problem has spurred the recalls of 2.6 million GM vehicles, and prompted U.S. fines and multiple investigations into why GM neglected to act for more than a decade. A full count of deaths is crucial to GM’s proposal to compensate victims of crashes that occurred before the company’s 2009 bankruptcy. Clarence Ditlow, head of the Center for Auto Safety, said he expects GM to raise its figure to 50, although he put the toll at closer to 100. The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times

Development of “Qatar on the Bayou” emerging in Louisiana. Sasol, the former South African state oil company, is embarking on what could be the largest foreign investment project in U.S. history. It is building a 3,034-acre energy complex near a bayou in Lake Charles, La. Tapping into cheap, fracked natural gas as well as the pipeline and shipping infrastructure along the Gulf Coast, Sasol plans to spend as much as $21 billion. With other energy companies joining the rush, officials say a total of 66 industrial projects, worth $90 billion, will break ground over the next five years in Louisiana. But the economic, labor market and environmental impacts are likely being underestimated. The Sasol complex alone is expected to emit 85 times the state’s “threshold” rate of benzene each year, along with massive amounts of carbon dioxide and treated water. The Wall Street Journal

Millions of gallons of crude oil are being shipped across the U.S. in “the Ford Pinto of rail cars.” The original DOT-111 tank car was designed in the 1960s. Its safety flaws were pointed out in the early 1990s, but more than 200,000 are still in service. About 78,000 carry crude oil and other flammable liquids amid the recent surge in energy production in North Dakota’s Bakken fields. The DOT-111’s design flaws “create an unacceptable public risk,” Deborah Hersman, then head of the National Transportation Safety Board, testified at a Senate hearing in April. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has compared the tank car to “a ticking time bomb.” As U.S. officials decide what to do, Canada has ordered its railways to stop all crude shipments in the cars by 2017. Mother Jones

Coal-fired power plant that warned of “devastating” consequences from environmental rules now thriving. Three years ago, faced with a requirement to cut sulfur dioxide emissions blowing downwind by 80 percent, the operators of EME Homer City Generation in Pennsylvania sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The business said the EPA requirement would cause it grave harm and bring a spike in electricity bills. Those dire predictions never came to pass. Instead, the massive western Pennsylvania plant is expected in a few years to turn from one of the worst polluters in the country to a model for how coal-fired power plants can slash emissions. Even environmental groups that protested the plant’s pollution now say the operation is setting an example that other coal plants should follow. The Associated Press

Regulatory delays keep new sunscreen ingredients out of the U.S. market. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. yet the Food and Drug Administration has not added anything new to its list of approved sunscreen ingredients in 15 years. Meanwhile, many of the ingredients that provide broader protection from ultraviolet radiation are available in Europe, Canada and parts of Asia. Eight sunscreen ingredients are pending before the FDA, many of them left in limbo for years. The frustration over the issue has generated support for the Sunshine Innovation Act, which was introduced in the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The measure is designed to speed the approval process by requiring decisions within 11 months, while maintaining the same safety standards. San Francisco Chronicle, The Toledo Blade

 Compiled by Stuart Silverstein