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Everywhere you turn there is a bill or a practice to fight, whether its working for cleaner air, protecting rainforests, or fighting off toxics that impact public health. Mid-November is a great time to reflect on what’s going in the fight against global environmental pollution.

Dirty TarSands Detained at the Border

The biggest news is the central United States stay of execution–the Tar Sands Keystone XL Pipeline by TransCanada will not be built today! The pipeline would follow from the 200 + acres of devastated bitumen pits near Helena, Canada through the heart of our country to refineries along the Gulf coast where the dirty fuel would be shipped offshore.

TarSandsAction.org reports that TransCanada had been moving pipe to staging areas–fully expecting the pipeline project to start. Public outcry and protest by thousands at the White House helped put the pipeline on hold until at least 2013. The State Department ruled it must do an Environmental Impact Assessment first.

The action is a victory for sure, but others say the project is an unstoppable force. The pundits described the decision by President Barack Obama as a “no win situation” with the fossil fuel industry leaning on him and environmentalists who voted for him screaming for a refund. The State Department ruling will at the least buy some time and hopefully focus scrutiny on the project.

EPA Rules GHGs a Threat to Public Health, Republicans Seek Ways to Overturn It

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health in a huge ideological victory for environmentalists. Then, those who oppose regulating greenhouse gases rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

The World Resources Institute is following development of several bills that seek to overturn EPA’s findings and undercut its authority.

The Energy Prevention Act by Rep. Upton (R-MI) and Senator Inhofe (R-OK) would create exemptions for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives in the spring, and failed the Senate. Watch for further action. These forces are interested in making sure that some EPA rules have no effect and they want to stop new rules–such as the “Light Duty Vehicle Rule” which places emissions rules on passenger vehicles model years 2012-2016–from being made.

Fighting Toxics in Massachusetts

The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, a group of non-profits that have joined forces to address chemicals that pervade our life from food packaging to cleaning products, is making headway with lots of support from Massachusetts legislators. Want to join a winning team? I think this could be the one for you.

Recently Senator Tolman, (D-Brighton), convinced the Senate to pass a resolution regarding the Toxic Substances Control Act, a woefully out-of-date law from 1976 that governs use of toxics in the marketplace. Massachusetts, following action by California and Illinois, will address the deficiencies of this law.

In addition, the Environment Committee heard hours of testimony on the Safer Alternatives Bill in July and further movement is expected in the next term. According to the Alliance, a number of legislators are supporting this bill. It’s time to get poison plastics off our food!