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EWG News Roundup (5/8): MultiState Duke Energy Watchdog Formed, Protecting Farm and Food Workers During Pandemic and More

In the News
Friday, May 8, 2020

This week, EWG joined a coalition of public interest, social justice, watchdog and environmental groups to hold Duke Energy accountable for its policies, which affect almost 8 million Americans in six states – and by extension, impede the nation’s progress toward a clean energy future.

The Duke Energy Accountability Coalition plans to shine a light on work by environmental and consumer advocates, energy experts and frontline communities in states where Duke Energy operates as a monopoly utility. 

“Duke operates in so many states that it’s hard for customers, journalists and regulators to get the full picture of the many ways it has earned the label of Public Energy Enemy No. 1,” said EWG senior energy policy advisor Grant Smith.

“The Duke Energy Accountability Coalition and the Duke Energy People’s Commission, which the coalition has created, will bring a singular point of view to concerns that recur across Duke’s entire service area,” Smith said. “They will challenge the utility and its shareholders to put the public interest ahead of profits – an obligation that is supposed to be a condition of a government-granted monopoly.”

To follow and engage with the Duke Energy Accountability Coalition and its People’s Commission, connect via Facebook or Twitter.

EWG also weighed in on a May 5 letter from Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on the safety of meatpacking plant workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Congress should also reject efforts to grant immunity to employers who fail to protect their workers from COVID-19. Companies that implement mandatory safety requirements and apply reasonable care will not face the avalanche of liability some Republicans and business interests fear,” said EWG senior vice president of government affairs Scott Faber. “Granting protection to employers will only increase the number of sick workers and further weaken our food supply chains. Food prices in general – not just meat and poultry – could rise as labor shortages affect other food categories.”

And finally, EWG called for Congress to direct the USDA to use relief funds to ensure that farmworkers – not megafarms – have protections, free testing and paid sick leave.

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

Children’s Health

The Oprah Magazine: The Best Sunscreen for Kids and Babies, According to Dermatologists

We don't want to be alarmist, but according to the Environmental Working Group's report on the best sunscreen for kids, "a few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person’s lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer."

Kiwi Magazine: PFAS Explained

According to the EWG, “Their presence has been linked to a variety of health harms, including increased cholesterol, multiple cancers, and weight gain. They pose additional risks for children. PFAS has been linked to low birth weight, endocrine disruption—particularly harmful in kids who are still developing—and weakened childhood immunity.

Duke Energy Accountability Coalition

Politico, Morning Energy: What to expect when you're expecting another coronavirus package

The "Duke Energy Accountability Coalition" includes public interest groups and experts from across six states in Duke Energy's service area and coincides with the utility's annual shareholders meeting online today. Members include Energy and Policy Institute, Environmental Working Group and Friends of the Earth.

The Hill: OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senators urge White House to keep ethanol requirement | Warren opposes oil industry 'bailout' | New group launched to monitor major electric company

“The coalition will work to improve Duke Energy’s greenhouse gas emission reductions, transition from fossil fuels to renewables, ratepayer affordability and equity, coal ash cleanup and health impacts, influence spending and more,” the coalition said in a statement.

The organization is comprised of green groups including the Environmental Working Group and Friends of the Earth.

Ken Cook 60 Minutes Interview on Farm Bailout

CBS News, 60 Minutes: Why Are Hundreds of People in Big Cities Receiving Bailout Money Meant for Farmers?

Ken cook is the president of the Environmental Working Group that's been tracking farm subsidies for decades and now the direct payments to farmers under the Trump administration's bailout. Reprinted byThe World NewsBlog for Arizona

CBS News, 60 Minutes Overtime: Most Trade War Relief Aid Bypassed Small & Medium Farms

The Trump administration's 2018 Market Facilitation Program has given about one-third of the agriculture subsidy funding to only 4% of farmers, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by The World NewsMSNWealth Creation Investing

Business Insider: 'That's just the way it happens:' Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue defends the trade war bailout that mostly benefited wealthy farmers

Citing data from the Environmental Working Group, 60 Minutes found there was a substantial amount of aid flowing to wealthier farmers, some of whom had only an ownership interest as investors and weren't directly involved in daily operations.

Trump Administration Meat Processing Plants

The Washington Post: No, Trump didn’t order meat-processing plants to reopen

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group warned that Trump’s order could be a “death sentence” for workers. Reprinted by Stamford Advocate (Conn.)Connecticut PostGreenwich Times (Conn.)Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minn.)Fairfield Citizen (Conn.); 4 additional media outlets

E&E News, GreenWire: White House doubles down on meat industry order

"Although some employers have taken steps to protect workers, these safety protections are not mandatory and are not subject to enforcement," said Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group.

COVID-19 and Food Workers and Restaurants 

The Packer: Produce industry informs Congress on pandemic safety measures

Democratic lawmakers, Farmworker Justice and the Environmental Working Group have said they are pushing for new federal protections for farm and food workers in the next coronavirus stimulus legislation.

The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide: Don’t give businesses immunity from liability for exposing workers or consumers to covid-19, consumer groups say

In addition to Public Citizen, other groups signing the letter included the Environmental Working Group, Food and Water Action, the Main Street Alliance.

World Socialist Web Site: Deemed essential, US farmworkers face wage reductions, zero protections from COVID-19

Analysis of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) shows that in the 100 counties with the most farmworkers, more than $590 million in recent trade bailout payments were sent, with no requirement that any of those funds be used to improve the conditions of farmworkers.

COVID-19 and Tap Water

The Washington Post: Americans are told to wash hands to fight coronavirus. But some don’t trust the tap.

"Those rules were never written with covid in mind,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Houston ChronicleNew Haven Register (Conn.)The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.)SF Gate (San Francisco)

Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and PFAS Contamination Cleanup

Iosco County Herald (East Tawas, Mich.): Oscoda activists call on AF to stop the flow of PFAS from Wurtsmith by 2023

He spoke about the new letter he sent to Barrett and, on the call, Kildee was joined by representatives from LCV, NOW and Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

Agri News Net Farming Portal: How to Protect Yourself From These Hidden Household Dangers

Some common products that have been shown to contain phthalates are cosmetics, shampoo, moisturizer, and conditioners. In 2002, a report from the Environmental Working Group found phthalates in about three-fourths of the personal care products evaluated.

Food Scores

Bicycling: Are Canned Foods Less Nutritious Than Fresh? Follow This Guide

You can also search the Environmental Working Group’s Food Scores site to find out if a brand you like is suspected to use BPA.

Kourtney Kardashian

Cheat Sheet: Kylie Jenner Generously Donates Kylie Skin Hand Sanitizer to Medical Workers

Kourtney Kardashian works with the Environmental Working Group to lobby for change in the cosmetics industry. Reprinted by My Style News.

Michelle Pfeiffer's Henry Rose

Thrive Global: A Mother’s Day Gift Guide to Ignite her Senses

Fragrances that are made of pure, non toxic, high quality ingredients. Their website states they are, “The first fine fragrances to be both EWG VERIFIED™ and Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Gold.”

Women’s Wear Daily: On the Cusp: Why Clean Fragrance Could Be Beauty’s Next Big Bet

Created by Michelle Pfeiffer, this marks a new model for celebrity fragrances. Pfeiffer partnered with the Environmental Working Group and International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. which adopted bold new fragrance design standards in concert with Cradle to Cradle.

Non-Stick Cookware

Feed Me Phoebe: The Best Non-Toxic Nonstick Pans + How to Use Them Safely

According to the Environmental Working Group, chemicals in this family (PFC’s) can cause birth defects, abnormal thyroid levels, liver inflammation and weakened immune defenses, among other issues.

PFAS Polluters Map

Indy Star: Some industrial sites in Indiana may be discharging toxic 'forever chemicals,' report says

These facilities join roughly 2,400 others nationwide suspected of discharging these chemicals, according to the report from the Environmental Working Group, a research and environmental advocacy organization. Reprinted by South Bend Tribune (Ind.)

PFAS Tap Water Contamination

Water Quality Products: What Should be Included in a Drinking Water Test

Shallower wells are contaminated much quicker than deeper wells, which was highlighted in a recent study by the Environmental Working Group on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) where deeper wells had little to no contamination.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Eating Well: Celery Juice: The Health Benefits, Side Effects and Science Behind the Trend

Celery is also on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list of most-contaminated produce when it comes to pesticide residue.

Eating Well: How to Lose Weight on a Budget

If organic is important to you, the Environmental Working Group has identified the foods that are most contaminated (that you should consider buying organic), as well as the produce that is cleanest and most free of pesticides (that you can buy conventional).

Eating Well: 7 Tips for Clean Eating

Choose organic produce where you can, focusing on buying organic foods from the EWG's Dirty Dozen list and cutting yourself some slack with the Clean 15 foods list.

General Health: Benefits of Celery, Nutrition Facts, Recipes and More

The Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” shows that it’s usually sprayed with multiple types of pesticides.

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Ask Men: Best Sunscreens for Men

Adding to the eco- and body-friendly vibe, Badger sells all of its sunscreens in eco-friendly packaging and this one happens to be rated the best by EWG with a rating of one.

Mind Body Green: Zinc Oxide In Sunscreens: What Is It + 7 Facts Explained About The Active

At the moment, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only two ingredients the Environmental Working Group has deemed safe for use and effective at protecting the skin from UV damage.

Hello Glow: 6 Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid + What to Use Instead

After much time spent reading different sources, I decided to go with the Environmental Working Group’s recommendations because they seemed like a nice middle ground between “wear all the chemical sunscreens all the time” and “never wear sunscreen ever until your skin looks and feels like beef jerky.” (Ew.)

Tap Water Database

NJ Spotlight: Appeals Court Says Not Government’s Job to Clean Up ‘Erin Brockovich’ Chemical in Jersey City

In 2016, a national study by the advocacy organization Environmental Working Group concluded that more than 200 million Americans were exposed to the chemical at sites in every state, including 150 sites in New Jersey.

Blue Ridge Outdoors: The Value of Water

You can also visit the Environmental Working Group’s website for a variety of water related topics. Use your zip code in their Tap Water Database for more specifics about contaminants found in your water source.

 

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