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    Karachi Kings’ Kieron Pollard leaves PSL 9 to attend Mukesh Ambani’s son’s wedding in India

    Numerous international players are also set to join extravagant wedding festivities of Anant Ambani

    Karachi Kings’ Kieron Pollard (left) and Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant. — PSL/Reuters

    Karachi Kings’ batter Kieron Pollard has temporarily parted ways with the team to attend the grand wedding of Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s son in India. The cricket star secured a four-day leave from Karachi Kings for the occasion and is expected to arrive in Jamnagar, India, today.

    Sources revealed that besides Indian cricketers, international players are also set to join the extravagant wedding festivities of Anant Ambani. Notably, Pollard had previously represented the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for an extended period.

    Karachi Kings is scheduled to face Multan Sultans in their upcoming Pakistan Super League (PSL) match on March 3. The temporary departure of Pollard for the high-profile wedding highlights the intersection of sports and glamour, particularly in the context of the renowned Ambani family, known for hosting opulent celebrations.

    Mukesh Ambani’s previous daughter’s wedding in 2018 was a lavish affair, reportedly costing around $100 million, featuring receptions in Rajasthan, Mumbai, and Lake Como in Italy, complete with a performance by American pop star Beyoncé. 

    The upcoming wedding for Ambani’s youngest son, 28-year-old Anant Ambani, is anticipated to surpass previous extravagance.

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    Ukraine introduces civil drone operator training in vocational schools – Euromaidan Press

    Ukraine will implement a “civil drone operator” education program in vocational schools across seven oblasts, Mykhailo Fedorov, Minister of Digital Transformation, announced on 1 March.

    “This year, seven vocational schools in Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Mykolaiv, Sumy, and Chernihiv oblasts will offer training for civil drone operators,” Fedorov said.

    He explained that the program is part of vocational education reform and that drones were purchased and instructors trained with the support of the European Union. Plans include expanding the network of vocational schools and establishing an educational standard to fully prepare such specialists.

    “Being able to operate a civil drone is crucial for Ukraine today. These unmanned aerial vehicles are used during sowing, in rescue operations, demining, assessing damage from military actions, and journalists use them to document the war,” Fedorov noted.

    Drone operation training. Credit: Maksym Kozytskyi/TG

    Maksym Kozytskyi, head of the Lviv Oblast Military Administration, earlier announced on Telegram that vocational schools in Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts were the first to introduce the profession. Five more educational institutions in Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Mykolaiv, Sumy, and Chernihiv oblasts will soon join them.

    “In 2022, we proposed this idea to the EU representation in our country, and it responded positively. Later, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine approved an interregional working group that developed the foundation for the new profession. In particular, we managed to create three training programs: primary professional training, course training, and teamwork,” Kozytskyi added.

    In January, Fedorov introduced the “People’s Drone” project, offering Ukrainians a free training program to assemble FPV (first-person view) drones at home.

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    Nancy Wallace, Fervent Savior of the Bronx River, Dies at 93

    Nancy Wallace, who toiled tirelessly to clean up the only freshwater river that flows in New York City, the Bronx River, and reclaim it for recreation and as a natural habitat, died on Feb. 15 at her home in Marblehead, Mass. She was 93.

    Her death was confirmed by her daughter Lane Wallace.

    Living in White Plains, N.Y., in the 1980s, Mrs. Wallace galvanized a broad campaign to rescue the river, at the time an inaccessible 23-mile watercourse that was home to more flotsam, like the carcasses of junked cars and rusted refrigerators, than fauna.

    The river is mostly tidal and brackish from East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx down to where Hunts Point meets the saltwater East River, but it is considered generally fresh as it flows south from its source near the Kensico Dam in Westchester County.

    While “naturally fresh” is a phrase not typically associated with the Bronx, New York’s only borough on the American mainland is, in fact, home to Pelham Bay Park, the city’s largest, as well as the New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo and the Hunts Point Produce Market — and a mostly freshwater river runs through it all.

    A career educator and civic leader, Mrs. Wallace joined the board of the Bronx River Restoration in 1982. The following year, when the executive director left, she agreed to fill in temporarily. She held the job for 22 years, until she retired in 2006 — one year before biologists from the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Bronx reported a sighting of a beaver in the river for the first time in two centuries.

    Mrs. Wallace almost single-handedly raised money from local governments, philanthropies and individuals for the restoration; won the support of officials in the Bronx and Westchester County; persuaded local businesses to donate construction equipment and supplies; and recruited Boy Scout troops and the City Volunteer Corps, among other groups, to help with the cleanup and restoration.

    “For the long term, the basic thing we have to do is change people’s attitude toward the river,” she told The New York Times in 1988. “After all, it only became a problem because of what people did to it.”

    The Bronx River Restoration and the umbrella Bronx River Alliance sought to turn an eyesore — for anyone who could find it along the Bronx River Parkway, the nation’s first — into a spot for hiking and canoeing. Conservationists reclaimed the riverbank to create improbable oases, like Starlight Park, hugging the Sheridan Expressway near East 173rd Street. The city’s parks department now calls the park “a vital link along the Bronx River Greenway.”

    Ann Seaver Coolidge Upton was born on Sept. 2, 1930, in Marblehead. Her mother, Anna (Pennypacker) Upton, headed the welfare department in Marblehead, and her father, Edward, was a lawyer. Ann was called Nancy in keeping with a family tradition of giving children an informal name.

    She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Smith College in Massachusetts in 1951 and briefly interrupted master’s degree studies to marry Bruce A. Wallace, a mechanical engineer, whom she had met while working with inner-city teenagers in Paterson, N.J.

    She changed her name legally to Ann U. Wallace in 1977, when she ran successfully for the Common Council in White Plains, though she continued to be known as Nancy Wallace.

    After teaching and traveling once her husband had completed his service in the U.S. Army, the couple settled in White Plains in 1959. She worked with the local Parent Teachers Association on a plan to desegregate the local public school system and, as a member of the Common Council, shepherded that city’s groundbreaking, antidiscriminatory Fair Housing Law.

    In 1982, she was importuned to join the board of Bronx River Restoration and readily accepted.

    “I’d always been interested in environmental issues and causes — even my children were taught to fold their paper lunch bags very carefully and bring them home so we could reuse them,” she said in 2005.

    In addition to her daughter Lane, Mrs. Wallace is survived by her husband; another daughter, Gail Wallace; a son, David; her sister, Lane Upton Serota; and three grandchildren. She moved back to her hometown with her husband in 2012.

    The river restoration project had been underway for nearly a decade before Mrs. Wallace’s arrival on the board. It started as a partnership between Anthony Bouza, a Bronx police commander who was seeking to distract teenagers from delinquency, and Ruth Anderberg, who had harbored the idea of a restoration for a decade and who ultimately quit her job as a secretary at Fordham University to help initiate it.

    Among Mrs. Wallace’s staunchest supporters were José E. Serrano, a state assemblyman from the Bronx at the time, before he became a U.S. representative; Bea Castiglia-Catullo, a fellow member of the river restoration board; and the New York City parks commissioner then, Henry J. Stern, who predicted in 1988 that the river would someday be “what it should be — a place for modern-day Huckleberry Finns.”

    In helping to rescue the river, Mrs. Wallace combined political acumen, a knack for consensus building and skills in community organizing to seek common ground among suburban Westchester towns and the less affluent neighborhoods that abutted the river from the Bronx border at 242nd Street to the East River eight miles to the south.

    “We’re not hoping to drink the water or anything,” she told The Times in 1988. “But we’re hoping to get it clean enough so the fish will want to come back.”

    They did, American eels and the endangered alewife herring among them.

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    How Sean Ono Lennon Helped His Parents Send a Message.

    Three years ago, Sean Ono Lennon was asked to develop a music video for the 50th anniversary of “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” the 1971 protest song by his parents, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which has become a rare type of perennial — a warmhearted Christmas tune that doubles as an antiwar challenge, telling ordinary citizens that peace can be achieved “if you want it.”

    But Lennon, 48, was not interested in making a simple video. That “felt unnecessary” for such a well-known track, he said in a recent interview. What intrigued him more was the possibility of expanding the song’s message through a narrative film. After about two years of work, that project became “War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko,” directed by Dave Mullins, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated short film.

    The 11-minute picture is set in a World War I-like battle zone where two soldiers on opposing sides take part in a secret chess game, communicating their moves via a homing pigeon that dodges bombs over a snowy No Man’s Land. In the story’s climax, both armies are ordered into bloody hand-to-hand combat while the opening lines of John and Yoko’s song ring out: “So this is Christmas/And what have you done?”

    For Sean Lennon, who in recent years has gradually taken on the responsibility of managing his parents’ artistic legacies — his mother, 91, has officially retired — the film is part of a continual process to keep that work relevant for younger generations. He is well aware that even a Beatle’s classic can fade away without tending.

    “It’s not about mining the past,” Lennon said by phone. “You’re competing with generations of people who have not grown up with the same culture and art that most people my age and older take for granted. So, for me, it’s very important that the message of peace and love, which may be a trope, are not forgotten.”

    “What I don’t want,” he added, “is for my mother and father’s work to disappear with the sands of time.”

    The film was made with the help of some substantial forces. Mullins was a longtime animator at Pixar, and in 2021 he joined Brad Booker, the film’s producer, in a new production company, ElectroLeague; “War Is Over” is its first completed project. The score is by Thomas Newman, the Oscar-nominated composer whose credits include “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Wall-E.” Lennon and Ono are among the executive producers.

    Lennon was connected to Mullins through a mutual friend, and in an initial meeting they came up with the basic concept of the war setting, the chess game and the messenger pigeon. Mullins said he wrote the full script immediately afterward. (Lennon and Mullins are credited with the film’s story, and Mullins has sole writing credit.)

    Lennon had recently gotten to know the director Peter Jackson through “The Beatles: Get Back,” his three-part, nearly-eight-hour odyssey about the band’s troubled recording sessions in early 1969, and Lennon asked him for advice on “War Is Over.” Mullins recalled that at a dinner meeting with Lennon in March 2022, he watched in stunned silence as Lennon texted with Jackson, his phone emitting a little whistle as each message was sent. “My heart was just beating a mile a minute,” Mullins recalled. “Like, oh my God, Peter Jackson’s got our script!”

    Jackson’s visual effects company, Weta FX, handled the animation for “War Is Over,” though Jackson himself was uninvolved. In an email, he said he only saw the film once it was completed.

    “I’m genuinely proud to have played a tiny part in bringing it to life,” Jackson said. “It’s entertaining and charming — and celebrates humanity without preaching.”

    The film was created with Unreal Engine, a platform that was originally developed for video games by the company behind Fortnite. The animation process involved performance capture — shooting real actors, whose movements become the raw material for computer animation later.

    Extensive work went into crafting the look of the animation, which, despite being computer-generated, has a hand-drawn style, with outlines that can resemble charcoal sketches.

    Production on “War Is Over” began before the Ukraine war broke out, and Hamas attacked Israel just as they were wrapping the project. But Lennon said the goal was always to make the story more universal. “We tried to abstract the aesthetic of World War I into a sort of parallel dimension that wasn’t that war specifically,” he said.

    In the film, the two armies wear insignia with opposing geometric designs: one side’s symbols are rounded, the other’s angular. The battle scenes show soldiers of multiple races and ethnicities, representing all humanity.

    “Sean was adamant in our first conversation that he didn’t want the movie set in an identifiable war,” Jackson recalled. “He wanted the message from the song to be the focus, and not muddy it by having British fighting Germans, or Americans fighting Vietnamese.”

    That message, and how it was delivered, was key to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s work. Before “War Is Over” was a song, it was part of a series of peace protests that the couple enacted in various forms throughout 1969, including “bed-ins.” That December, they posted black-and-white billboards in 12 major cities around the world displaying variations of: “War Is Over! If You Want It — Happy Christmas From John & Yoko.”

    It was, perhaps, an early example of a guerrilla media campaign, using celebrity power to transmit a subversive message. “I think you could argue,” Sean Lennon said, “that my mom and dad invented memes before that term even existed.”

    “War Is Over” is the latest Beatle-related project that he has been involved with. He was a point of contact for Jackson on “Get Back” and on the release of “Now and Then,” the reworked 1970s John Lennon demo that was released in November as “the last Beatles song.”

    For more than a decade, the Beatles, and each individual member, have been the subject of a series of reissues, repackagings and re-examinations of various kinds — and it is not over. Last month, it was announced that the director Sam Mendes would make four biopics, one for each Beatle, which are expected in 2027.

    Lennon, who remains an active musician — he released his latest album, “Asterisms,” last month — said he viewed “War Is Over” as the kind of project that allowed him to honor his parents’ legacies, an opportunity his mother provided.

    “I’m just grateful that she’s given me the freedom to try to do weird things like this,” Lennon said. “You know, she’s still the queen of the family.”

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    Jurgen Klopp confirms key Liverpool star «is on the way back» but not ready for Nottingham Forest match

    Liverpool have been without their star man Mohamed Salah for the majority of 2024 but the Egyptian superstar is on the way back according to Jurgen Klopp.

    The winger suffered an injury during the Africa Cup of Nations and returned earlier than expected for the Reds when he was forced on against Brentford last month. The 31-year-old bagged a goal in the match but aggravated his injury and has been out of action since.

    Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s match with Nottingham Forest on Saturday, Jurgen Klopp has said that Salah is close to a return but will not be ready for the trip to Nottingham.

    “I don’t think Mo is too far off but he will not be on the pitch tomorrow and from there we have to go. Touch and go, Mo is a bit longer, maybe next week is possible, he is on the way back, definitely. Not for tomorrow,” the German coach stated via Paul Gorst.

    Mohamed Salah will miss Liverpool’s trip to Nottingham Forest

    Mohamed Salah is key to Liverpool’s success

    Liverpool will want Salah back as soon as possible as the winger is the Reds’ most lethal goalscorer. The 31-year-old is having another exceptional season scoring 19 goals and assisting a further 10 across the 28 games he has featured in.

    Jurgen Klopp’s team have done fantastic in the absence of their injured stars but with the run-in set to get more intense, their return will play a big role in how many trophies the Merseyside club can win.

    Liverpool host Man City at Anfield on 10 March and that will be the game the Reds will be targeting for Salah’s return. The clash will be crucial in deciding where the Premier League title ends up and Klopp will want his big stars available as they continue their quest for a quadruple.

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    U.S. consumer sentiment down slightly in February

    U.S. consumer sentiment cooled slightly in February, based on the University of Michigan’s closely-watched survey.

    Why it matters: The Biden administration watches this figure closely, as reported earlier today by Axios’ Hans Nichols, because it’s the best gauge of how voters are feeling about the economy.

    By the numbers: Consumer sentiment was down 2.7% from January, but up 14.9% from February 2023.

    What they’re saying: «Consumers perceived few changes in the state of the economy since the start of the new year, and they appear to be assured that inflation will continue on a favorable trajectory,» said U Michigan’s Joanne Hsu.

    Zoom out: A different gauge of consumer sentiment released earlier this week by the Conference Board showed a pullback in February, interrupting three months of rising sentiment.

    • That reflects «persistent uncertainty about the US economy,» the group said.

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    PML-N hopeful of positive outcome after Nawaz Sharif meets Fazlur Rehman

    JUI-F has rejected February 8 election results and refused to vote for PM, president

    JUI-F Emir Maulana Fazlur Rehman (right) during a meeting with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad, on March 1, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — X/@juipakofficial
    • PML-N and JUI-F top brass meet at Fazl’s residence.
    • Party says Nawaz did not seek votes from JUI-F emir.
    • “[You will receive] good news,” PML-N leader says.

    ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Friday expressed hope for a breakthrough after the party’s top brass met the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leadership.

    PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, whose party is all set to head the next coalition government, met JUI-F Emir Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the latter’s residence in Islamabad.

    Fazl’s party, which is adamant about sitting on the opposition benches, has refused to accept the results of the February 8 elections, claiming that they were rigged.

    The JUI-F, a traditional ally of the PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has refused to vote for the prime minister, and president, and also abstained from voting in today’s National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker election.

    “Have faith in Allah… [You will receive] good news,” PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique, who was part of the PML-N delegation, told a journalist after the meeting concluded.

    The election for the coveted post of prime minister will take place on Sunday and Nawaz’s younger brother, former premier Shehbaz Sharif, is all set to be elected as the government’s top boss, as the party has secured enough votes and looks in a comfortable position.

    In his conversation with reporters, PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah said that he would reveal the details of the meeting later, but expressed hope of a positive outcome.

    “I’ve already stated that Maulana is our leader and we’ve faced tough situations together. We have always received guidance from him and we wish for that process to continue,” he said.

    Sanaullah said that Nawaz did not visit Fazl to seek votes; however, sources told Geo News that he was indeed there to secure the JUI-F’s support.

    “They spoke about the ongoing political situation during their one-on-one meeting,” he added.

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    First class stamp price to rise again to £1.35, says Royal Mail


    This is the fourth rise in two years for first class stamps and the second class cost will rise too.

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    High Mortgage Rates Leave Biden Searching for Housing Relief


    President Biden and his economic team, concerned that elevated mortgage rates and housing costs are hurting Americans and hindering his re-election bid, are searching for new ways to make housing more available and affordable.

    Mr. Biden’s forthcoming budget request will call on Congress to pass a raft of initiatives to build more affordable housing and help certain Americans afford to purchase a home. The president is also expected to address housing affordability for both homeowners and renters in his State of the Union address next week, according to people familiar with the speech planning.

    On Thursday, administration officials announced a handful of relatively modest executive actions, including steps to increase the supply of manufactured homes. White House officials said this week that they would announce “additional actions we are taking to lower housing costs.”

    The increased focus on housing affordability comes as congressional Republicans assail Mr. Biden over high mortgage rates and housing costs, and as allies of the president warn that those costs are hurting working-class voters he needs to win in November.

    There is little Mr. Biden can do immediately and directly to affect mortgage rates. Those are heavily influenced by the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policies, and the White House is careful not to appear to be pressuring the central bank to cut rates. Fed officials have signaled that they expect to begin cutting rates this year.

    New research from economists at Harvard University and the International Monetary Fund — including Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary — suggests high mortgage rates and other borrowing costs are contributing to Americans’ relatively gloomy mood about the economy, despite low unemployment and healthy growth. By weighing on consumer confidence, those costs could be depressing Mr. Biden’s re-election hopes.

    “If you’re Biden, you’re cheering for inflation to continue its way down and for the Fed to lower interest rates,” Judd N.L. Cramer, a Harvard economist and one of the paper’s authors, said in an interview. The president should particularly care about that, he added, “because consumers are more aware than we’ve given them credit for of those borrowing costs.”

    Mr. Biden has made a habit of asking aides about the current state of mortgage rates, which have more than doubled since he took office and as the Fed raised rates to combat the worst bout of inflation in four decades.

    The average 30-year mortgage rate jumped to nearly 8 percent last fall from below 3 percent in 2021. It has declined slightly this year but recently ticked up again and now sits just under 7 percent.

    Monthly payments for prospective homeowners have soared because of the increase. The monthly payment for a typical mortgage for a $400,000 home — which is just under the median sales price nationwide — is about $2,900 at a 7 percent interest rate, assuming a 20 percent down payment. That is about $800 more per month than the payment would be at a 3 percent rate.

    The increased burden of high borrowing costs can make home buying seem prohibitive, which is one reason polls show that younger adults in particular are concerned about housing prices. Mr. Cramer said his research suggested that high mortgage rates also frustrate existing homeowners, who may want to sell their home but have seen the ranks of potential buyers thinned because fewer people can afford to pay their asking price.

    The research, published on Monday as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, seeks to shed light on a puzzle of the Biden economy: why consumer sentiment remains lower than historical evidence suggests it should be, given the job market is strong and wages are rising.

    Drawing partly on alternate ways of calculating inflation rates in the past, the researchers — Mr. Cramer, Mr. Summers and Karl Oskar Schulz of Harvard, along with Marijn A. Bolhuis of the I.M.F. — conclude that rising borrowing costs for homes, cars and more under Mr. Biden account for much of the depression in sentiment.

    “Consumers, unlike modern economists, consider the cost of money part of their cost of living,” they write.

    White House economists have run their own calculations on consumer sentiment. They find it is largely dragged down by persistently high grocery prices and residual frustration with the coronavirus pandemic. In recent months, as mortgage rates fell slightly, they calculated that housing issues were helping to brighten consumers’ moods.

    Still, Mr. Biden’s aides say they know how difficult housing costs are for Americans. They are scrounging for ways to alleviate them, even on the margins, before the election.

    The president has already tried and failed to persuade Congress to pass expansive plans to build more affordable housing units, along with aid for certain Americans trying to buy homes, like down payment assistance for people whose parents do not own homes. Republicans who control the House have not been receptive to those proposals this year.

    “The president considers the long-term shortage of affordable housing to be one of the most important pieces of unfinished business we have,” Jared Bernstein, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview.

    The research suggest a drop in mortgage rates could swiftly lift Mr. Biden with consumers and in his campaign. They suggest the slight fall in rates in recent months was a reason sentiment surged at the end of last year and the start of this one.

    White House officials agree. But, they are quick to add, Mr. Biden will not push the Fed to cut rates.

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    E.P.A. Sets New Rules to Limit Damage From Disasters at Chemical Facilities

    The Biden administration issued new rules on Friday designed to prevent disasters at almost 12,000 chemical plants and other industrial sites nationwide that handle hazardous materials.

    The regulations for the first time tell facilities to explicitly address disasters, such as storms or floods, that could trigger an accidental release, including threats linked to climate change. For the first time, chemical sites that have had prior accidents will need to undergo an independent audit. And the rules require chemical plants to share more information with neighbors and emergency responders.

    “We’re putting in place important safeguards to protect some of our most vulnerable populations,” Janet McCabe, Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, told reporters ahead of the announcement.

    Administration officials called the stronger measures a step forward for safety at a time when hazards like floods and wildfires — made more extreme by global warming — pose a threat to industrial sites across the country. In 2017, severe flooding from Hurricane Harvey knocked out power at a peroxide plant outside Houston, causing chemicals to overheat and explode, triggering local evacuations.

    Some safety advocates said the rules don’t go far enough. They have long called for rules that would make facilities switch to safer technologies and chemicals to prevent disasters in the first place. The new regulations stop shy of such requirements for most facilities.

    The lack of tougher requirements was particularly disappointing, the advocates said, because President Biden championed similar measures, as senator, to bolster national security.

    “If we simply require facilities that store or utilize large amounts of chlorine or other dangerous chemicals to transition to inherently safer technologies wherever feasible,” Mr. Biden said at a hearing of the Senate environment and public works committee in June 2006, “we could, in fact, completely or primarily eliminate known threats to our communities.”

    “He was a leader on this, but now that he’s in charge, there’s no there, there,” said Rick Hind, an environmental consultant and the former legislative director at Greenpeace.

    The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday morning.

    The E.P.A. estimates that more than 130 million people live within three miles of sites that handle hazardous chemicals that are covered by the new rule. In a “worst-case scenario” accident, more than 2,000 of those sites could endanger 100,000 people or more, according to a 2020 Congressional Research Service report. Eighty-three of those facilities could endanger more than a million people in a worst-case scenario, the report said.

    Facilities include chemical plants and wholesalers, oil refineries, natural gas plants, wastewater treatment plants, fertilizer distributors, many of them critical infrastructure, but also a risk to nearby communities.

    Former President Barack Obama had tried to strengthen the rules, proposing safeguards after a deadly 2013 explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas killed 15 people. The Trump administration rolled back most of those rules before they took effect, part of a slew of environmental and safety regulations that it unraveled. In 2021, the E.P.A. announced plans to restore the rule.

    Since then, a coalition of environmental groups and experts, as well as national security experts and former military officials concerned with terrorist and other threats to chemical sites, have pushed the E.P.A. to require hazardous sites to use safer chemicals.

    “The use of inherently safer alternatives is the only foolproof way to prevent worst-case scenarios from becoming catastrophic disasters,” Christine Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey governor and the E.P.A. administrator under George W. Bush, urged in a 2022 letter co-signed by several retired army generals.

    There are examples of chemical manufacturers swiftly adopting alternatives. In 2009, The Clorox Company announced it would phase out the use of chlorine gas, a particularly hazardous chemical used as a chemical weapon in World War I, at all of its factories. Three years later, the company said it had completed that task.

    And following the 9/11 attacks, a wastewater treatment plant in Washington, D.C., just miles from the White House and the U.S. Capitol, removed hundreds of tons of explosive liquid chlorine and sulfur dioxide from its premises in a matter of weeks.

    In comments submitted to the E.P.A. during the rule-making process, the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s largest lobbying group, pushed back against the measure, saying safer technologies were “not simple to identify or implement.” Overall, the rules “burden affected industries by requiring them to undertake extensive new trainings, retrofits, and analyses, none of which will result in a reduction of accidental releases,” the industry group said. Moreover, “natural hazards are inherently difficult to predict, and complete protection may be infeasible.”

    Qingsheng Wang, associate professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University who specializes in process safety, said switching to safer alternatives was a no-brainer for new facilities able to start from scratch. “But for existing facilities, modifying processes could be very difficult,” he said.

    Still, the goal should be to “minimize certain chemicals, substitute, simplify,” he said. “If we can do that, it’s a good way to improve safety.”

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