Dec. 8, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

Reporting on the Environment Takes a Back Seat

Shortly before Thanksgiving, a quartet of heavyweight health organizations issued their annual “Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer.” The principal finding of the study from the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries is that the incidence of cancer and the rates of death from cancer continue to decline. That’s great news, and it’s even better news that it seems not to be by accident. The report notes, for example, that California, a state that has fairly rigorous anti-smoking laws, has seen the rate of lung cancer deaths drop by almost 3 percent over the last decade.


The substance isn’t the topic of this post, however; it’s the news coverage.


The report drew extensive media attention, even managing to break through the impressively managed story of President-Elect Obama’s piecing together of his Cabinet. In the past, the report has come out in October, but perhaps because the authoring organizations wanted to avoid competing with the presidential campaign, it came out in the relatively calm news period that surrounds Thanksgiving.


But Professor Michael D. Laiosa of the …

Nov. 28, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

If you’re a Washington, D.C., commuter, it’s hard these days to miss the series of transit ads from Chevron on subway walls, bus shelter windows, and even the exteriors of subway cars.  “I will finally get a programmable thermostat,” says one, over the picture of a concerned woman. “I will at least consider a hybrid,” says another, over the face of a perplexed looking man. Other ads in the “Will You Join Us” series, commit “I” to taking “my” golf clubs out of the trunk, replacing three (count ‘em, three) light bulbs with compact fluorescents, reusing things, and leaving the car at home “more.”


I enjoy all those magazine articles about “Ten Things You Can Do to Save the Planet” as much as the next guy. But Chevron’s little honey-do list is a different story. I find something fundamentally offensive about having Chevron …

Nov. 28, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

CPR's Tom McGarity has an op-ed this morning in the Austin American Statesman on Wyeth vs. Levine, the Supreme Court case testing an assertion by pharmaceutical manufacturer Wyeth that FDA approval of its proposed drug label shields the company from tort litigation over harm that drug subsequently causes.  The Court heard oral arguments on the case on November 3, and a ruling is expected later this term.


The case arose out of one of those medical disaster stories we all fear.  Diana Levine went to visit a doctor, complaining of a migraine.  Her treatment included an injection of Wyeth's anti-nausea drug, phenergan.  The label on the drug carries a caution about the so-called IV-push method of injection -- a shot.  The better method is an IV-drip -- where a bottle is hung and the drug introduced more slowly into the vein.  The danger is that the drug …

Nov. 21, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

In January, “committed environmentalist” Henry Waxman will take the chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, the body through which environmental legislation – and most significantly, climate change legislation – will pass on its way to the floor of the House of Representatives next year. As it happens, Representative Waxman is a charter member of the Center for Progressive Reform’s Advisory Council, and has been very supportive of the organization’s work.


CPR isn’t in the business of endorsing candidates, nor involving itself in intra-party battles for leadership positions. But we recognize an environmental leader when we see one, and our Member Scholars look forward to contributing their policy ideas to the work of his committee.


Yesterday, CPR President Rena Steinzor sent a letter of congratulations to Representative Waxman. She wrote:

On behalf of the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR), I want to congratulate you …

Nov. 15, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

Don't miss CPR Member Scholar Holly Doremus's piece in Slate, published November 14, on the Supreme Court's ruling in NRDC's challenge to the Navy's use of harmful-to-whales sonar in anit-submarine training off the California coast. [Also available in PDF.]

Oct. 29, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

The battle over bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic baby bottles took another interesting turn today when the FDA’s own scientific advisory panel issued a stinging rebuke of the agency for its determination that the toxic substance is not harmful.


According to the Washington Post, FDA

did not take into consideration scores of studies that have linked bisphenol A (BPA) to prostate cancer, diabetes and other health problems in animals when it completed a draft risk assessment of the chemical last month. The panel said the FDA didn't use enough infant formula samples and didn't adequately account for variations among the samples.

As a result, the report from the panel says, FDA failed to provide “reasonable and appropriate scientific support” for its conclusion. According to a Bloomberg story,

An estimated 93 percent of Americans have traces of bisphenol A in their urine, according to the …

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