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Center for Public Integrity: EPA Unaware Of Industry Ties On Cancer Review Panel

Our investigative reporting colleagues at the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) continue their look at the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of toxic pollution with a new report scrutinizing the agency's delay in announcing that "even a small amount of a chemical compound commonly found in tap water may cause cancer."

CPI reporters David Heath and Ronnie Greene found that in 2011, the EPA "was poised to cite evidence of cancer risks in hexavalent chromium, a chemical compound found in tap water — likely presaging stricter drinking water standards."

Hexavalent chromium is the same chemical featured in the successful environmental battle waged against Pacific Gas and Electric by citizen activist Erin Brockovich in Hinkley, Ca., in the 1990s. The case resulted in a $333 million payment to the town's 600 residents, who claimed the company poisoned their water with the chemical for over 30 years.

CPI reports that EPA reversed a decision by the agency's chemical-assessment program chief and delayed the release of its findings for at least four more years. Instead, EPA deferred to a panel of scientists who were supposed to be providing an unbiased review. But, as CPI found, "several of the panelists had worked on behalf of PG&E to defend the company in the Brockovich lawsuits."

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and the agency's chemical-assessment officials "declined requests for on-the-record interviews," CPI reports. "But an EPA official acknowledged privately that the agency was not fully aware of the chromium (VI) peer reviewers' ties to PG&E."

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NPR

The New Science Behind Our 'Unfair' Criminal Justice System

"Good people with the best of intentions ... can get things terribly, terribly wrong," says legal scholar Adam Benforado. His book, Unfair, explores the intrinsic flaws of the American justice system.
NPR

Mechanization Brings Quick Change To Borneo Region Known For 'Slow Rice'

A company is introducing mechanized rice farming to the interior of Malaysian Borneo for the first time. Scientists say the change may damage the bonds between the local people and their environment.
WAMU 88.5

Cutting Local Taxes In The District

The D.C. Council has taken steps to accelerate tax cuts for all income earners. They're part of a broader overhaul of the city's tax levels, but some council members argued there wasn't enough time for a rigorous debate about the new schedule. We explore the debate over cutting taxes for D.C. residents and how it affects the city's ability to pay for critical local services.

NPR

A Hacker Is Hacked: Controversial Italian Cyber Espionage Company Is Targeted

Hacking Team's spyware has been detected in many countries with repressive regimes. The company has never revealed its client list, but a hack has made thousands of documents public.

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