Congress is off for most of the month, praise the Lord, so we get a chance to catch up on our progress on several fronts.
It probably won't surprise you to learn that the State Department's Inspector General will investigate possible ethics violations concerning the most recent draft of State's environmental impact report on the Keystone XL pipeline, but the Inspector General has also frowned upon the last report, so this could all be theatre. I'd prefer to believe the best of people, even politicians, but still, the Sierra Club still helps you tell Secretary Kerry to make State's environmental impact report reflect sound science, not oil industry biases.
H.R. 1010/S. 460, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, has 143 House sponsors and 31 Senate sponsors, but remains stuck in committee in both houses -- in the House, actually, it's stuck in subcommittee. You'd think Congress would recognize a good idea supported by over two-thirds of the American public as a sure winner, but this is Congress we're talking about. Never mind calling the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections -- John Boehner's number is 202.225.6205. You can find Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee members here, or you can take more action at Ralph Nader's new website here.
Tier 3 tailpipe emissions, as you know, enjoy support from both environmentalists and automobile manufacturing corporations -- but not big oil, no, sir. Think big oil gets all us-against-the-world like pro sports teams do? If so, they're just another group of millionaires who waste their time cultivating a false sense of oppression. Gina McCarthy has been EPA Administrator for about seven minutes now, so the Union of Concerned Scientists helps you tell Ms. McCarthy to set the strongest tailpipe standards available, so we get less asthma and less cancer and suchlike. I do not believe you'd be double-commenting if you use this tool and if you've already submitted a public comment.
On the fracking front, the Bureau of Land Management still thinks allowing gas drillers to frack all over public lands while telling us little about the chemicals they're pumping into our water is a swell idea. After all, some corporation's "trade secrets" are so, so much more important than the possibility that you're ingesting poisonous crap. (End sarcasm.) The public comment period ends on August 23rd, so if you've missed previous opportunities to give the BLM what-for about their dumb rules, Breast Cancer Action still helps you do that.
Finally, hard to believe, but the USDA is still mulling whether to let chicken processing corporations do most of their own inspecting, and leave a mere one federal inspector per plant to look at almost 200 birds a minute and hope they spot the feces and blood and pus that would make a contaminated chicken a bad meal at the dinner table. Privatization -- it always works, except when it doesn't work, which is always. It gets better: one way the USDA plan would "make up for" the lack of chicken inspectors is to allow corporations to spray their chickens with more dangerous chemicals. It sounds like a Bush Mobb plan, except Tha Bush Mobb's USDA actually functioned better than this. One is tempted to ask why USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack couldn't be burned out by Cabinet work like Hillary Clinton was at State, and one is tempted to answer that winding down two wars slowly enough for all the corporate mercenaries to get their cut is harder work than just rubber-stamping whatever big agricultural corporations tell you. Anyway, the fact that they're still taking comments on this plan tells me they're still not getting enough comments from people who are perfectly happy to get salmonella if it means some CEO gets to gild his plumbing, so Food and Water Watch helps you tell the USDA to drop this dumb chicken inspection privatization plan already.