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EWG News and Analysis

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EWG News Roundup (2/1): 100% Renewable Energy on the Horizon, Will Trump EPA Cave on PFAS and More

In the News
Friday, February 1, 2019

This week, EWG broke down why critics are wrong when they say the U.S. cannot transition to 100 percent renewable energy by midcentury. In an article first published on the energy industry site Utility Dive, EWG concludes that ambitious plans like the Green New Deal would be the first step in achieving this ambitious goal.

The Trump Environmental Protection Agency, under acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler, released a tone-deaf list of 2018 “accomplishments” – including reporting that its top achievement was saving Americans $2 billion through deregulation – even though, EWG notes, those efforts have made it easier for polluters to pollute.

“The Americans Wheeler is talking about are the corporations fouling our water, polluting our air and exposing children to more pesticides,” Cook said. “If there was an award for the 2018 breakout performance on behalf of polluters, it would go to Andrew Wheeler.”

And finally, in carrying out their polluter-friendly agenda from 2018, according to sources inside the EPA, the agency indicated it would not be setting legal limits for two toxic perfluorinated chemicals that may contaminate more than 110 million Americans’ drinking water, Politico reported this week.

“If these sources are right, the EPA is essentially telling the more than 110 million Americans whose water is likely contaminated with PFAS: ‘Drink up, folks,’ ” said EWG Senior Scientist David Andrews, Ph.D.

Here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Energy

Utility Dive: Is 100% renewable energy for the US possible? Yes

Pressing the issue are newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and hundreds of public interest groups supporting her proposed Green New Deal. In a letter to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the groups say heading off catastrophic levels of global warming demands a shift to 100% renewable power generation by 2035 or earlier. The Environmental Working Group also supports the goals and spirit of the Green New Deal.

Energy News: Polar vortex strains grid, natural gas supply

Is 100 percent renewable energy possible? Yes, but the devil is in the details, write a policy advisor and executive with the Environmental Working Group. 

Environmental Protection Agency and Andrew Wheeler

The New York Times: Help Pick the Worst of Trump

“He’ll never buy lotion at the Ritz-Carlton, but the decisions he’s made are far worse than any Pruitt made,” said Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, ticking off a long list of initiatives, including the repeal of the Clean Power Plan and a rollback on efforts to regulate mercury pollution. “Andy knows which levers to pull, and he hasn’t let any moss grow under his feet.”

Wisconsin Gazette: Trump administration made it $2 billion cheaper in 2018 for polluters to pollute 

That claim needs annotation, said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook. “The Americans Wheeler is talking about are the corporations fouling our water, polluting our air and exposing children to more pesticides,” Cook said. “If there was an award for the 2018 breakout performance on behalf of polluters it would go to Andrew Wheeler.” Reprint of EWG news release.

Common Dreams: Saving $2 Billion in Polluter Profits Tops Trump EPA’s 2018 ‘Accomplishments’

That claim needs annotation, said EWG President Ken Cook. “The Americans Wheeler is talking about are the corporations fouling our water, polluting our air and exposing children to more pesticides,” Cook said. “If there was an award for the 2018 breakout performance on behalf of polluters it would go to Andrew Wheeler.” Reprint of EWG news release

EPA and PFAS Regulation

Greenwire/ E&E News: Enviros press EPA for deeper scrutiny of 2 toxics

The people most at risk of exposure to PFBS and GenX chemicals will generally also have greater than typical exposures to legacy PFAS chemicals," said the Sierra Club, Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Working Group and Center for Environmental Health in comments earlier this month.

Greenwire/ E&E News: Uncertainty over new limit for PFAS sparks outrage

Environmental groups expressed outrage. “If these sources are right, the EPA is essentially telling the more than 110 million Americans whose water is likely contaminated with PFAS: 'Drink up, folks,'” said Environmental Working Group senior scientist David Andrews.

MLive: Trump administration won’t set legal limit for PFAS in drinking water, report says

The city of Parchment water system shut down after high levels were found last summer. Across the U.S., an estimated 110 million Americans are drinking water containing PFAS, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group. 

StateImpact Pennslyvania (NPR): Report says EPA refuses to regulate two PFAS chemicals

But Environmental Working Group, a national advocate for more action to curb the chemicals, said there shouldn’t be a patchwork of regulations that varies from state to state or even town to town. Reprinted by WESAWHYY and WITF.

Think Progress: EPA failing to limit harmful chemicals in drinking water would be ‘unacceptable,’ GOP lawmaker says

“If Mr. Wheeler won’t use his authority to set a health-protective limit for PFAS in drinking water, which by all accounts is a growing crisis facing millions of American families, he has no business working at EPA, much less running the agency,” Ken Cook, president of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, said Wednesday in a statement.

Think Progress: Trump’s EPA will not set legal limit on dangerous chemicals in drinking water, report says

But the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit environmental group, said it believes the EPA has severely underestimated of the scope of the problem. EWG and researchers at Northeastern University have tracked 172 PFAS contamination sites in 40 states. Using unreleased data from the EPA tests, EWG estimates that water supplies for as many as 110 million Americans may be contaminated.

Common Dreams: 'Absolutely Unconscionable': Trump EPA Refuses to Limit Toxic Chemicals That Contaminate Drinking Water of Millions

“If these sources are right, the EPA is essentially telling the more than 110 million Americans whose water is likely contaminated with PFAS: 'Drink up, folks,'” warned Environmental Working Group senior scientist David Andrews, Ph.D. “The most efficient and equitable way to remove these chemicals from the nation's drinking water supply is to use the agency's authority to set legal limits... It's a national problem, and it needs a national solution.” Reprinted by EcoWatch

International Business Times: Drinking Water Safety Concerns: Trump EPA May Not Limit Harmful Chemicals

“If these sources are right, the EPA is essentially telling the more than 110 million Americans whose water is likely contaminated with PFAS: ‘Drink up, folks,'” David Andrews, Ph.D, a senior scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, reportedly said. “The most efficient and equitable way to remove these chemicals from the nation’s drinking water supply is to use the agency’s authority to set legal limits... It’s a national problem, and it needs a national solution. Anything short of that is window dressing.”

LaCrosse Tribune (Wisc.): Wisconsin case shows how sewage plants spread unregulated toxins across landscape
Anywhere manufacturers or heavy users dump the chemicals down sewer drains, they end up at wastewater treatment plants that distribute them around the environment where they can end up in food and drinking water, said David Andrews, senior scientist at  the Environmental Working Group in New York.

Sunshine State News (Miami, Fla.):  EPA Might as Well Be Telling Millions with Contaminated Water: 'Drink Up, Folks'

But Politico Pro’s Annie Snider reported Monday via the nonprofit, nonpartisan Environmental Working Group (EWG) that, according to her sources, Wheeler will not move to regulate any of the PFAS family of chemicals by setting a legal limit, known as a maximum contaminant level, under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Congressional PFAS Task Force

Chemical Watch: Members of US Congress launch PFAS action taskforce (subscription)

The NGO Environmental Working Group (EWG) applauded the effort, emphasising the importance of an approach that "transcends partisan politics".

EPA and TSCA

Chemical Watch: NGOs see 'tremendous opportunities’ following US midterms (subscription)

Mr Rosenberg and Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), largely concur with Ms Hitchcock. “It’s time for Congress to stop the Trump team from ‘cooking the books’ to underestimate the threat posed by chemicals,” said Mr Faber.

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Sierra: What Is the Environmental Impact of Hair Dye?

If you're wondering about ecofriendly dyes, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database for green-rated hair color and bleaching options.  

Green Living: Beauty is Only Skin Deep, Or is it? Are Cosmetics safe?

Environmental Working Group (EWG) website Skin Deep. Research their cosmetics database where products are given a hazard score by EWG based on the ingredients’ links to cancer, allergies, and other issues.

EWG VERIFIED™ and Herbal Essences

InStyle: 15 Drugstore Beauty Products Worth Buying Right Now

Herbal Essences finally launched two sulfate-free shampoos! Not only that, but the brand took the innovation a few steps further by getting both of the formulas certified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Herbal Essences actually worked with the group to produce an efficient and affordable product that was free of unnecessary, potentially concerning chemicals

Purewow: Herbal Essences Is Now the First Mass Hair-care Brand to Meet the Highest Clean Beauty Standards

And as of this year, they're the first mass haircare brand to become EWG Verified for their new sulfate-free botanical shampoos: Birch Bark Extract and Honey & Vitamin B.

Flavors

New York Times: Are ‘Natural Flavors’ Really Natural?

Ultimately, because of the wide variety of ingredients that typically go into “natural” flavorings, “there does not seem to be much of a difference between natural and artificial flavors,” said David Andrews, a scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization.

Winston-Salem Journal – Relish (Winston-Salem, NC): My pet peeves about vegetarian eating

This term shows up on tons of product ingredient lists — according to the Environmental Working Group, it trails only salt, water and sugar in frequency — and it can cover a multitude of sins. Its components can derive from either animal or vegetable sources, and companies aren’t required to specify which they use.  

Monsanto’s Glyphosate

Mercola: 60 Toxic Chemicals All Wrapped Up in One Little Package: Your Baby’s Diaper

If this doesn’t make you think twice about what’s lurking in the products you buy, whether it’s diapers for your baby or clothes on your back or food on your table, then just take a walk down memory lane a few months and remember: It was only a few months ago that the Environmental Working Group found glyphosate in Cheerios cereal, Quaker Dinosaur Eggs instant oatmeal, Nature Valley granola bars, Quaker steel cut oats and Back to Nature Classic Granola.

Mercola: EU Infiltrated by Pesticide Industry Plagiarizes Safety Study

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has petitioned the EPA to reduce the amount of glyphosate residues allowed in oats as well as prohibit the use of glyphosate as a preharvest desiccant,26 but as it stands, neither the EPA nor the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) monitors for glyphosate levels on most food crops, even as studies suggest Americans' exposure levels are increasing. 

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Purewow: 6 Health Rules You Don't Actually Have to Follow

Organic food is great in theory, but it’s often cost prohibitive. Luckily, some foods are totally fine to eat non-organic. (A lot depends on its outer layer.) Refer to the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to learn where it’s OK to buy conventional. 

For Women First: 5 Ways to Save Money on Fruits and Veggies

It's no secret that going organic can be great for your health but tough on your wallet. That's why Consumer Reports recommends buying organic "when it matters" — aka when certain produce is known for having a high pesticide residue. Check out the Environmental Working Group's list of the "dirty dozen" fruits and veggies that are best to buy organic.

Motherly: Let’s make a baby: My 10-step plan to get pregnant

Choose organic when possible. As you boost your intake of healthy foods and produce, make an extra effort to eat organic, especially avoiding produce on Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list.

EWG's Guide to Sunscreens

Buzzfeed: 23 Useful Products Even 20-Somethings Should Splurge On
I found this gem on the Environmental Working Group website. Do you know how hard it is to find a skin product that is safe from dangerous chemicals, gentle on sensitive skin, and that despite all this, still works effectively? It's even harder to find a higher SPF sunblock that meets these criteria. 

Nitrate in Tap Water

TruthOut: Factory Farms Pollute the Environment and Poison Drinking Water

According to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of data from 2014 and 2015, the drinking water in 1,700 individual systems (affecting approximately 7 million people) contained nitrogen at levels higher than 5 parts per million (ppm), an amount the National Cancer Institute says increases the risk of colon, kidney, ovarian and bladder cancers. The EWG also found that nearly 32,000 Americans received drinking water containing nitrogen at levels exceeding the EPA’s threshold of 10 ppm — a limit set more than 55 years ago.

 

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