Thursday

Chrysler Pressured to Speed Repairs for Jeep SUVs Linked to Deadly Fuel-Tank Fires

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demands an explanation of why Chrysler is taking so long to fix Jeeps. A year ago Chrysler agreed to recall 1.56 million vehicles and install trailer hitches to protect their fuel tanks in a rear-end crash. But the company said in April it won’t have parts to begin making repairs until August. On Wednesday, NHTSA called for a company executive to explain under oath the delay. NHTSA estimates it could take Chrysler’s sole supplier more than four years at the current production rate to build enough hitches for the Jeeps. U.S. regulators have linked 51 deaths to fiery rear-end crashes involving 1993 through 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002 through 2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs. The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press

New York court ruling on fracking shakes up the U.S. energy industry. This week’s 5-to-2 decision by the State Court of Appeals defended the right of towns in New York to restrict fracking. The decision in favor of “home rule” by towns and counties is likely to reverberate nationally as many other local governments cope with a national boom in energy production. The numbers of local resolutions, laws and proposals to ban or limit fracking and the disposal of fracking waste total 35 in New Jersey, 13 in California, 10 in Colorado and 18 in Michigan, and others have emerged in Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, according to the activist group Food & Water Watch. Separately, officials of Collier County in southwest Florida are fighting the state over what they say is its lax oversight of a drilling process sometimes called acid fracking. The Washington Post, NPR

Rising costs, and skimpy insurance reimbursement, for vaccines spur some doctors to stop offering immunizations. With vaccination prices rising from single digits to sometimes triple digits in the last two decades, some doctors say they no longer can afford to buy these potentially lifesaving preventive treatments.  Yet childhood immunizations are so vital to public health that the Affordable Care Act mandates their coverage at no out-of-pocket cost and they are generally required for school entry. One reason for the rising costs is that some of the newer vaccines are complicated to manufacture. In addition, vaccine trials, which once included thousands of volunteers, must now include tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, as fears about side effects like autism have grown, even though many studies have concluded that such worries are unfounded. The New York Times

Target Corp. says it will “respectfully” ask customers to not bring guns into its stores. That policy, which will apply even in communities where bringing in firearms is permitted by law, was spurred by a month-long campaign by a gun-control group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The retailer was pushed into the national debate after Texas gun-rights activists posted photographs of their members carrying rifles through the aisles of stores near Dallas. Amid the controversy, the National Rifle Association briefly scolded the Texas gun-rights groups for carrying rifles in the stores, calling the practice “not neighborly.” The NRA later recanted and apologized. Target is following such chains as Starbucks and Chipotle in asking customers to not bring guns into its stores. The Wall Street Journal, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Environmental Working Group warns that U.S. approval of a new herbicide could threaten school children. In a report, the environmental group says 5,609 U.S. schools sit within 200 feet of farm fields that may be “soon blanketed with massive amounts” of the herbicide, Enlist Duo, which contains the compound 2,4-D. The group, and other critics, say 2,4-D poses health and environmental threats. Dow AgroSciences, the company behind Enlist Duo, says critics are rehashing irresponsible claims that regulators have rejected. Dow pointed to an Environmental Protection Agency document saying that the agency has consistently found that available data don’t support classifying 2,4-D as a carcinogen. Dow, believed to be close to winning approval for Enlist Duo, says it will enable farmers to more effectively kill weeds without damaging crops. The Des Moines Register, Time

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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