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EWG’s News Roundup (12/8): Farm Subsidies for Lawmakers, Coal’s Fingerprints on Bailout Plot Exposed and More

In the News
Friday, December 8, 2017

With new data from the recently updated Farm Subsidy Database and a review of Congressional financial disclosures, EWG revealed the 32 current lawmakers who have collected federal farm subsidies, totaling a whopping $15.3 million in taxpayer dollars between 1995 and 2016. Check and see if any of your federal representatives have harvested farm subsidies.

Taking a step back to look at the farm subsidy program as a whole, EWG reported on a recent Department of Agriculture study that confirmed that the lions’ share of subsidies flow to the richest farm operations. These findings are supported by the Farm Subsidy Database data, which found that the top 10 percent of recipients received 58 percent of all payments in 2015 and 2016.

We’ve also been sounding the alarm on the Trump Department of Energy’s plan to bail out the dying coal and nuclear industries. Two recent studies found that the proposed bailout would lead to 27,000 premature deaths and cost American taxpayers $263 billion by 2045. EWG also weighed in on news that the key architect of this DOE plan was none other than mining kingpin, Robert Murray of Murray Energy.

"We already knew Perry's scheme was a blatant political favor for President Trump's very special friends in the coal industry," EWG President Ken Cook. "Now we have proof that Murray Energy cooked the whole thing up and then lied about it. The more we find out about this plot to take billions from utility customers to keep a dying industry on life support, the more it stinks of corruption."

During his first appearance before a congressional oversight hearing as EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt said he will soon announce details of his “red team vs. blue team” debate between folks that accept the facts on climate change and those who deny human activity is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions. Not knowing the names of the climate deniers Pruitt is considering, EWG sent along some suggestions of a group of people who may possess the level of knowledge required to join the red team.

And finally, some good news: This week Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., dropped a bill that would support American organic farming and expand market opportunities for the rapidly expanding industry.

For coverage on these developments and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Trouble in Farm Country

National Geographic: The simple river-cleaning tactics that big farms ignore

Unfortunately, says Anne Weir Schechinger, a senior economics analyst for the Environmental Working Group, “It’s the farmers polluting the most who are the least likely to adopt those methods.” Reprinted by Food and Environment Reporting Network

EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning

Bloomberg: P&G Becomes Improbable Supporter of Ingredient Disclosure Rule

According to the Environmental Working Group, a co-sponsor of the California legislation, only 7 percent of cleaning products adequately list ingredients. Reprinted by European Supermarket Magazine

Bklyner: Don’t Freak Out, But This Cleaning Service Is Worried About You

The Environmental Working Group did a study of more than 2,000 cleaning products on the American market and, among other things, found that: Fumes from some cleaning products may induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals; Common cleaning ingredients can be laced with the carcinogenic impurity 1,4-dioxane; Labels often do not give consumers enough information about their ingredients to allow people to make informed decisions on which ones are safer and which ones might harm their health.


Women’s Health Magazine: 5 Lipstick Ingredients That Vegans Might Find Seriously Offensive

Collagen is a naturally-occurring protein that is the building block of skin, and helps repair wounds and keep skin supple. But most collagen used in beauty products is derived from the connective tissue of animals, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Dame Magazine: The Dark Side of the Beauty Boom

“Under Hatch, preemption attaches as soon as the FDA puts an ingredient on a list for potential further review,” explains Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group. “There is no provision in Hatch that requires FDA or a third party to ever actually review that ingredient. That means states could be preempted long before the federal government takes action – or whether the federal government ever takes an action at all. This creates a complete regulatory void.”

Skin Deep®

WWD: Camille Rose Naturals Adds Body, Skin-care products

In 2016, the Environmental Working Group came out with a study that said of nearly 1,200 personal-care products marketed toward African-American women, one in 12 rated “highly hazardous,” according to the group’s ingredient scoring system.

American Towns: Earth Talk: Cool Holiday Gifts for Vegans

Lush Cosmetics, Mineral Fusion and Andalou are just a few of hundreds of U.S. based firms now selling vegan-friendly make-up, moisturizer, soap, shampoo and other health and beauty products. To find more, check out the Environmental Working Group (EWG) free “Skin Deep” cosmetics database. Reprinted by Atlantic Broadband and 3 other media outlets

Mind Body Green: These 5 Wellness Tips Actually Changed My Life

My go-to resources to learn more about hazards and toxic ingredients in cosmetic and personal care products are the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database and the Think Dirty app.


Beauty Independent: Silk Therapeutics Takes Science In A Clean Skincare Direction

We were one of the first to work with EWG Verified. In the Skin Deep Database, we are one of the cleanest brands. It’s important to us because of what the program stands for. It stands for transparency. You are essentially signing an agreement with EWG to hold yourself to a higher standard than the F.D.A. standard.

Fragrance in Consumer Products

New Hope: 5 @ 5 - CA will require brands to disclose ‘fragrance’ ingredients

Not all chemicals will have to be disclosed, but more than 2,000 that are on California’s state list of harmful chemicals, including phthalates and perchloroethylene, will need to be. “We see this as a first step toward safer formulation,” says Samara Geller, an analyst at Environmental Working Group.

EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database

Politico: Getting oil and corn to mix

Some 33 Congress members and their immediate families collected at least $15.3 million in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2016, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Environment & Energy Publishing: 33 lawmakers collected $14M in farm subsidies

Thirty-three members of Congress received a total of at least $14.3 million in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2016, according to an updated analysis from the Environmental Working Group.

Tri-State Livestock News: EWG finds 33 federal lawmakers get farm subsidies

Thirty-three members of Congress and their immediate family members collected at least $15.3 million in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2016, according to data from the Environmental Working Group’s Farm Subsidy Database, the organization said today.

San Antonio Express-News: Texans among 32 Congress members who collected farm subsidies

Six Texans are among 32 members of Congress who received farm subsidy payments between 1995 and 2016, according to a report released Thursday by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Houston Chronicle and Political News

Flame Retardants

Wicked Local: Firefighters battle the hidden risk of cancer

Tolle Graham, the labor and environment coordinator for MassCOSH, said there is a concern that flame-retardant chemicals could cause adverse health effects for the general public as well as firefighters. A 2008 Environmental Working Group study found traces of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in children’s blood at higher concentrations than in adults. Reprinted by The Herald News

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

Quartz: Grass-fed beef isn’t as great for the climate as you think it is

A 2010 report from the Environmental Working Group showed that cattle release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, greatly increasing the impact of meat on greenhouse gas emissions. Reprinted by Relationship Science and 2 other media outlets

EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Her Campus: What You Might Not Know About Organic Foods

Every year, the Environmental Working Group produces a list called the “Dirty Dozen” that ranks the 12 most contaminated produce items in terms of their pesticide residue. This year’s “Dirty Dozen” is as follows: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and lastly, potatoes.

Huffington Post: Bite-Sized Interview with Registered Dietitian Nutritionist LeeAnn Weintraub

I think the Environmental Working Group has some great information about pesticides and the Dirty Dozen. Organic food doesn’t always mean healthier food, but some organic foods are worth buying.

Organic Authority: Vegan Apple Pear Crisp: The Winter Dessert You’ve Been Looking For

Choose both organic apples and pears at the grocery market, if possible. Apples and pears are both on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list of pesticide residue containing fruits and vegetables.

EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens

Mercola: Will Most Sunscreens Be Eventually Banned?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that oxybenzone, one of the most “worrisome” chemicals found in sunscreen, is in 65 percent of sunscreen products on the market.

EWG’s Tap Water Database

KTNV Las Vegas: New database lets you see what pollutants are in your tap water

According to the Environmental Working Group, tap water in most parts of Clark County has cancer-causing contaminants like chloroform, chromium, and dichloroacetic acid. “You need to take action. We recommend everyone in the United States install a home water filter,” said Bill Walker, EWG Vice President.

Legal News: Attorneys, citizens host forum on groundwater contamination

The Environmental Working Group website,, lists the township as being in violation of federal health-based drinking water standards for the January-March 2017 quarter, with five recent violations.

Nonstick Chemicals in Drinking Water

New York Times: New Jersey Seeks Stricter Limit on Chemical in Drinking Water

“These chemicals are extremely persistent, they’ve become global contaminants, and they can seriously impact human health at extremely low concentrations,” said Dr. David Andrews, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based organization.

Water Online: Scientists Urge Coordination in PFC Response

A study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University in Boston shows PFCs are found in “drinking water for 15 million Americans in 27 states,” Time reported.

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