Averting catastrophic climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity. We’re decades late in responding appropriately, and there is absolutely no time left to waste.
That makes today’s announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency of revised performance standards for new power plants so critically important.
It’s a certainty that industry will claim this rule will injure consumers. We’re past time for policymakers to be distracted by such misleading claims.
Power plants account for 40 percent of U.S. carbon pollution. We have the technology and solutions — starting with scaled up investments in energy efficiency — to transition to a clean energy economy in a way that creates jobs and does not result in higher energy prices for consumers.
Moreover, consumer well-being depends on preventing the worst climate change scenarios, which constitute the greatest long-term threat to our economy.
The proposed rule for new power plants will limit carbon dioxide emissions for any new coal fired power plant to roughly match those of new natural gas power plants, and will finally begin to level the playing field for technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal and energy efficiency, which have been forced to compete against heavily subsidized fossil fuels, including coal.
We look forward to working with the EPA and other stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of this important consumer and public health safeguard.
Are Americans more resistant to the risks and more likely to benefit from certain drugs than Europeans? Or is the European Medicines Agency (EMA) more resistant than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the drug industry’s desire to get approval for drugs with unique risks but without compensating benefits?
Dr. Sidney Wolfe, founder and senior adviser to Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, explores the question in his latest column in the British Medical Journal. This is Wolfe’s second column as a regular contributor.
This question arises because the FDA has recently approved two diet drugs, heralded by the agency as “the first drugs for long-term weight management that FDA has approved in 13 years” but rejected by the EMA. In both cases FDA advisory committees earlier rejected approval but later supported the FDA’s and the companies’ desire for approval. Similarly, the FDA has also failed to ban the diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia), banned three years ago by the EMA.
Read the full article here.
News that the US Dept of Justice is investigating JPMorgan‘s energy trading business comes after the recent Federal Energcy Regulatory Commission (FERC) settlement with JPMorgan, and means the company and key executives might not be off the hook. Remember that, in the biggest market manipulation case since Enron, FERC only fined JPMorgan $285 million, or 1.3% of the company’s 2012 profit, and ignored its Enforcement Staff request to sanction Blythe Masters and other key JPMorgan execs for giving “false and misleading statements” under oath. FERC’s failure to hold JPMorgan accountable for manipulating energy markets allowed the company’s reps to boast to the Wall Street Journal that the FERC settlement was a “victory” for the company. We suspect that FERC may have gone easy on JPMorgan in exchange for the company making an announcement days before the settlement that it would exit the commodity business.
If true, this sets a dangerous precedent. Reducing penalties & sanctions against JPMorgan in exchange for its selling its business provides the company with a valuable windfall: they are free to sell, at a profit, a business involved in market manipulation. In contrast, a FERC action revoking the subsidiary’s market-based rate authority would punish the company and reduce the value of its holdings – a fitting action for manipulating markets and harming consumers. And allowing key executives – such as Blythe Masters, JPMorgan’s head of Global Commodities, whom investigators earlier accused of making “false and misleading statements” under oath – to escape sanction enables her and others to trade commodities and potentially manipulate markets at another firm.
Image by SaferProducts.gov
This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), which provided a long overdue upgrade of critical safety protections for consumer products. The CPSIA revitalized the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and created the publicly available safety incident online database, better known as www.SaferProducts.gov.
The database received strong support in Congress when the CPSIA was being negotiated in March 2008. As Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) explained at the time, the bill would “give consumers better access to vital safety information by creating a searchable database that has information including reports of injuries, illness, and death related to the use of consumer products.”
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) added a worthwhile hypothetical about the database during the debate over the bill: “(W)e do not have to wait until tragedy strikes close to home to hear about safety concerns other consumers have already discovered. So if I know about that crib, and I go on line, and I put it on, and now another family looks and says: Let me figure this out, let me find out if this is the type of product that has any problems, and they see that information, it is a warning and preventive measure that is powerful because information is powerful.”
The database, which officially launched in March 2011 as SaferProducts.gov, so far has collected over 15,000 safety incidents from consumers and others. Members of the public can submit “reports of harm” that must contain minimum required information which then will be posted at SaferProducts.gov and available for review by the public approximately 15 business days after the report is submitted.