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Report: Nearly 300,000 New Yorkers Flooded in Sandy Lived Outside FEMA Flood Zones

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Report: Nearly 300,000 New Yorkers Flooded in Sandy Lived Outside FEMA Flood Zones
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps for New York City did not identify that nearly 65 percent of the area inundated during Hurricane Sandy—home to nearly 300,000 people—was at risk from coastal flooding, according to a new analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report tallies the human toll and impact to critical infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

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NRDC Report: Potentially Unsafe Chemicals in Food Threaten Public Health

April 9, 2014 Comments off

NRDC Report: Potentially Unsafe Chemicals in Food Threaten Public Health
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Federal protections to keep potentially unsafe chemicals out of our foods are woefully inadequate and may be putting the health of Americans at risk, a Natural Resources Defense Council investigation found.

The food safety protection system is marred by minimal supervision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, rife with apparent conflicts of interest in safety evaluations, and rendered all but toothless by a gaping loophole that allows companies to simply declare as safe hundreds of chemicals added to our foods—without any notification to the FDA or the public, according to an NRDC report released today.

Newly Disclosed Documents Show FDA Allows Livestock Antibiotics Use Despite “High Risk” to Humans

January 29, 2014 Comments off

Newly Disclosed Documents Show FDA Allows Livestock Antibiotics Use Despite “High Risk” to Humans
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly allowed 30 potentially harmful antibiotics, including 18 rated as “high risk,” to remain on the market as additives in farm animal feed and water – despite an internal review that raised significant red flags, according to agency records obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The data show the use of these drugs in livestock likely exposes humans to antibiotic resistant bacteria through the food supply. FDA’s scientific reviews of these antibiotics occurred between 2001 and 2010, yet the drugs remain approved and, in many cases, on the market for use in industrial animal agriculture operations.

The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America

September 19, 2013 Comments off

The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic

Here’s a superbly-kept secret: All those dates on food products — sell by, use by, best before — almost none of those dates indicate the safety of food, and generally speaking, they’re not regulated in the way many people believe. The current system of expiration dates misleads consumers to believe they must discard food in order to protect their own safety. In fact, the dates are only suggestions by the manufacturer for when the food is at its peak quality, not when it is unsafe to eat.

U.S. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America’s dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices, which need to be standardized and clarified. Forty percent of the food we produce in this country never gets eaten. That’s nearly half our food, wasted — not just on our plates, but in our refrigerators and pantries, in our grocery stores and on our farms. Much of it perfectly good, edible food — worth $165 billion annually — gets tossed in the trash instead feeding someone who’s hungry. Misinterpretation of date labels is one of the key factors contributing to this waste.

Confusion over dates, according to a survey by the Food Marketing Institute, leads nine out of 10 Americans to needlessly throw away food. For the average family of four, this could translate to several hundred dollars’ worth of food being thrown away every year. A senseless waste, when we’re all keeping a close eye on our household budgets, and when one in six Americans lacks a secure supply of food. Because regulators, industry players, and citizens have become accustomed to seeing date labels on many food products over time, policymakers have not asked important questions about the date labeling system, and there has been a dearth of rigorous policy analyses of how these labels affect consumers’ choices surrounding purchasing and discarding food products.

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill

August 26, 2012 Comments off

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Food is simply too good to waste. Even the most sustainably farmed food does us no good if the food is never eaten. Getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. Not only does this mean that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also 25 percent of all freshwater and huge amounts of unnecessary chemicals, energy, and land. Moreover, almost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.

Nutrition is also lost in the mix — food saved by reducing losses by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables. Given all the resources demanded for food production, it is critical to make sure that the least amount possible is needlessly squandered on its journey to our plates.

Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches

June 28, 2012 Comments off

Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches

Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

NRDC’s annual analysis of water quality and public notification data at coastal U.S. beaches found that the number of beach closing and advisory days in 2011 reached the third-highest level in the 22-year history of our report, totaling 23,481 days (a 3% decrease from 2010). More than two-thirds of closings and advisories were issued because bacteria levels in beachwater exceeded public health standards, indicating the presence of human or animal waste in the water. The portion of all monitoring samples that exceeded national recommended health standards for designated beach areas remained stable at 8% in 2011, compared with 8% in 2010 and 7% for the four previous years. In addition, the number of beaches monitored in 2011 increased slightly (2%) from a five-year low in 2010. The largest known source of pollution was stormwater runoff (47%, compared with 36% last year). The 2011 results confirm that our nation’s beaches continue to experience significant water pollution that puts swimmers and local economies at risk.

NRDC continues to push for improvements in beachwater quality standards and test methods. Most recently, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed an action that could leave the public inadequately protected if it is not strengthened—one establishing recommended standards for beach officials to use to keep people from being exposed to unsafe levels of disease-causing bacteria and viruses. While beachwater quality standards are critical, ultimately the most important long-term action is to adopt 21st-century solutions that address the sources of beachwater pollution, particularly stormwater runoff. The most important of these solutions remains incentivizing and implementing green infrastructure in our cities, such as green roofs, porous pavement, and street plantings, which stop rain where it falls. Green infrastructure effectively reduces the amount of runoff that makes its way into beachwater or triggers harmful sewage overflows, transforming potential beach pollution into a tremendous local water supply resource.

NRDC Report: DriversTo Save $68 Billion by 2030 Under 54.5 MPG Standard

April 22, 2012 Comments off

NRDC Report: DriversTo Save $68 Billion by 2030 Under 54.5 MPG Standard
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Drivers will save $68 billion in fuel costs when the Obama administration’s 54.5 miles-per-gallon standard is fully implemented in 2030, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Drivers in Texas, California and Florida will save the most in 2030 according to “Relieving Pain at the Pump.”

But motorists everywhere right now can find relief from $4-a-gallon gas prices on the showroom floor. New 2012 models contain substantially more fuel-efficient choices as automakers begin to fulfill requirements under the administration’s original 2009 clean cars agreement to raise standards to 35.5 mpg by 2016.

The 54.5 mpg by 2025 standard, set to be finalized in August, will double today’s average level of fuel efficiency. This will save individual drivers $4400 over the life of the vehicle, after considering the cost of the fuel saving technologies. NRDC quantified savings in all states in 2030, giving the more efficient vehicles a chance to penetrate the roadways.

+ Relieving Pain at the Pump

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