CPR Archive for Robert Verchick

Cuba Libre: The Link Between Freedom and Environmental Health

by Robert Verchick | March 23, 2016

Earlier this week in Havana’s Gran Teatro, President Obama urged Cubans in this new century to keep their eyes on the prize of “sustainable prosperity.” His remarks focused on the foundational role of political freedom, but not before underlining the importance of environmental protection too. That’s no surprise. Economic growth in Cuba will depend heavily on the natural systems that keep the island’s 11 million people fed, sheltered, and buffered from storms. Indeed, the U.S. State Department’s negotiations with Cuba stressed this very point: two of four agreements reached since the re-opening of diplomatic relations involved resource protection and preparing for the impacts of climate change. The expected influx of U.S. tourists, businesses, and developers—another key to economic success—promises to add a corresponding layer of environmental stress.

Last spring I traveled to Cuba as part of a New Orleans delegation and saw the challenges first hand. Cuba, long called the “Jewel of the Caribbean,” offers a brilliant landscape, with some of the best preserved shorelines and reefs in the region. But look further and you will find great vistas of urban dilapidation, leaking sewer systems, and frayed carpets of contaminated marsh. Among Cuba’s environmental problems, soil degradation—caused by poor farming techniques and intensified by drought—tops the list, affecting an estimated 60 percent of the land surface. Water shortages are also on the rise, a result of overuse, pollution, saline intrusion, and drought. The loss of biodiversity and forest cover ...

Justice Scalia and the American Eco-Kulturkampf

by Robert Verchick | February 22, 2016
Justice Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court chair sits empty, draped in black wool to honor a man whose intellect and fire-breathing keyboard helped reshape the nation’s political landscape. Depending on how things go, that chair could be empty for a while. Unlike more recent nominations to replace a Justice, a nomination from President Obama could reorient the Court away from its long-standing conservative tilt toward something more progressive or even merely moderate. In the current session alone, important cases involving affirmative ...

Support CPR on Giving Tuesday

by Robert Verchick | December 01, 2015
In August I commemorated the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by pedaling along the self-guided "Levee Disaster Bike Tour." I began beneath the muscular oaks along New Orleans' Bayou St. John and threaded my way around potholes and waterfowl to pay my respects at three prominent levee-breach sites.  The ride gave me a chance to reflect on many problems that my adopted hometown of New Orleans faces, as well as countless opportunities for improving the policies that will take advantage of ...

Dear Jeb: Crippling Federal Agencies Will Not Keep America Safe!

by Robert Verchick | September 22, 2015
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush released a plan meant to make it harder for federal agencies to make rules that protect public health and the environment. That might help some big corporations. But it makes everyday Americans much less safe. The idea is to jam up the federal rule making process with so many requirements that hardly anything important would get done. Safeguards that keep the air clear, the water clean, and the workplace safe would be put on the back burner. Bush’s ...

VW Scandal: Can Anyone Still Doubt the Need for Regulation?

by Robert Verchick | September 22, 2015
Center for Progressive Reform President Robert R.M. Verchick issued the following statement today in response to the burgeoning Volkswagen emissions scandal: With the Volkswagen emissions scandal, hard on the heels of the GM settlement, can anyone doubt the importance of strong regulation and tough enforcement? One automotive giant let a safety problem fester for a decade while more than 120 people died as a result. Another conspired to cheat on state emissions tests, pumping outrageous loads of pollution into the ...

How Does the Clean Power Plan Measure Up?

by Robert Verchick | August 03, 2015
  Against intense pressure from the coal industry to tie Americans to dirty fuels forever, the Obama administration has surged forward in the battle to fight climate change. The Clean Power Plan rule, released today by the EPA, promises serious cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, while giving states the flexibility and incentives they need to reduce pollution, keep the grid humming, and save consumers money. The challenge, as EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy put it, was “wicked hard.”  But polls show Americans ...

CPR President Rob Verchick on BP's Settlement Today

by Robert Verchick | July 02, 2015
Today’s BP settlement is great news for the Gulf Coast economy, which still suffers mightily from the damage BP and its contractors caused. The President and his Department of Justice deserve credit for hammering out this deal, and keeping their focus on the victims of what the President rightly calls the "worst environmental disaster America has ever faced."  If the settlement is to have the impact on the region that we all hope it will, we’ll need to be sure that ...

Michigan v. EPA: Still Hope for the Mercury Rule

by Robert Verchick | June 29, 2015
Today the Supreme Court blocked a key effort by the Obama administration to keep unsafe levels of mercury and other toxins from spilling into our air. The ruling, issued in Michigan vs. EPA, is a loss for the EPA and public health advocates. But the damage can be contained and will hopefully not prevent the agency from re-issuing its so-called Mercury Rule under a rationale that can satisfy the Court’s newly divined decision-making standards. At issue was whether the Clean Air Act ...

Why the Climate Movement Needs a Green Pope, and a Super Voucher

by Robert Verchick | June 18, 2015
ROME—On my first visit to Vatican City, before my meeting with Michelangelo, I greeted the Pope via the city’s ubiquitous souvenir stands. I love this stuff. You can try on the “Papa Francisco” kitchen apron and imagine the pontiff’s smile beaming over your Spaghetti Bolognese. Or gently joggle the pate of a Pope Francis bobble-head. Postcards are everywhere, of course. And for €10 you can score the annual “Hot Priests Calendar,” featuring hunky young men of the cloth. In this ...

Katrina Ruling Breaches Sovereign Immunity

by Robert Verchick | May 03, 2015
Almost a decade after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans-area residents are still trying to hold their government accountable for mistakes that allowed a monstrous flood to devastate their city. Last week, in a case called St. Bernard Parish v. United States, a federal judge helped their cause. In a dispute involving a major navigation channel controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, Judge Susan G. Braden of the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., found that the Corps’ negligence ...

Remember the Gulf Walrus! One Big Lesson from the BP Oil Spill

by Robert Verchick | April 23, 2015
Nearly five years ago, BP introduced a flippered mammal Americans never knew we had: the Gulf Walrus! If you don’t know the story, you should, because the tale of the Gulf Walrus tells you everything you need to know about what was wrong with deepwater drilling back in 2010, and worse, still is.  The story goes like this: After the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, leaving 11 workers dead and a gusher of oil billowing a mile under the sea, ...

Dangerous dust and deadly delay: OSHA's proposed silica rule

by Robert Verchick | November 26, 2013
It’s not easy to stare into the eyes of a dying man. But that is what David Michaels, the head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), wants you to do. A video called, “Deadly Dust,” featured on OSHA’s website, introduces Bill Ellis, a retired painter and sandblaster. After years of exposure to fine particles of blasted rock, he developed a respiratory disease called silicosis and died, leaving behind his wife, children, and grandchildren. Ellis’s final months were painful. For a ...

White House Buries Itself in Analysis of Non-Economically Significant Rules: A Tour of OIRA's Regulatory Dashboard

by Robert Verchick | October 07, 2013
Ever wonder how Professor Tom McGarity knows about all those delays in regulatory review? Or how Professor Lisa Heinzerling learns about food safety regulations that the White House appears to be burying? Well, now you too can be an OIRA ninja. In President Obama’s first term, the White House introduced an interactive Web portal stocked with charts and figures to give you better information about the President’s centralized system of regulatory review. (Last summer I referred to OIRA as “the ...

House Republicans to hold hearing on climate change, can I get a witness?

by Robert Verchick | September 17, 2013
Everything’s upside down. Last week a Democratic president urged a military strike in the Middle East while Republicans dithered about quagmires. Tomorrow, a subpanel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will launch its first climate change hearing in years and hardly any Obama administration official is willing to show up.  Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky), who chairs the Committee’s Energy and Power subpanel, says the committee requested presentations from 13 federal agencies. But as of this post only EPA Administrator ...

Senate's Confirmation of Gina McCarthy as Head of EPA a Welcome Development

by Robert Verchick | July 18, 2013
The Senate's confirmation of Gina McCarthy as head of the Environmental Protection Agency is a welcome development and a signal that Congress and the President are willing to get serious about the Agency's role in protecting the health of all Americans and the affects of climate change on the environment. It won't be easy. Lawmakers seem divided on nearly every issue in this debate. In the past EPA's efforts to protect the environment and public health and safety have sometimes ...

Robert Verchick Reacts to Congressional Letter on OIRA Delays

by Robert Verchick | June 06, 2013
Late Tuesday afternoon, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to White House Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell urging her to take "prompt action" to implement rules and regulations held up at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The letter notes that under Executive Order 12866, OIRA reviews of agency draft rules must be completed ...

The Long Goodbye: On Seeing the Sundarban Islands

by Robert Verchick | January 04, 2013
The Ganges River begins at the foot of the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas and culminates at the Sundarbans Delta, a massive sprawl of swamps, lakes, and scores of islands. (Find an earlier post on the Ganges here.) It’s the largest river delta in the world—home to endangered Bengal tigers, miles of mangroves, and nearly 12 million people (4.5 million on the Indian side and 7.5 million on the Bangladeshi side). A student of the Mississippi River Delta, I had ...

Sweating the Small Stuff: Indian Villages Plan for Climate Change

by Robert Verchick | December 18, 2012
In October, I wrote about the city of Surat, the diamond-polishing capital of India, and its battle against climate change.  Recently I had the chance to visit another municipality working on adaptation, a place known more for its postage stamp farms and wandering livestock than jewelry and textiles. It’s called Gorakhpur, and is located in the flood-prone state of Uttar Pradesh, near the India-Nepal border. I first visited Gorakhpur nearly 25 years ago--when I was a long-haired backpacker and Gorakhpur ...

Also from Robert Verchick

Robert R.M. Verchick holds the Gauthier ~ St. Martin Eminent Scholar Chair in Environmental Law at Loyola University, New Orleans, is the Faculty Director of the Center for Environmental Law at Loyola, and is a Senior Fellow in Disaster Resilience Leadership, Tulane University. He is the President of the Center for Progressive Reform.

Cuba Libre: The Link Between Freedom and Environmental Health

Verchick | Mar 23, 2016 | Environmental Policy

Justice Scalia and the American Eco-Kulturkampf

Verchick | Feb 22, 2016 | Environmental Policy

Support CPR on Giving Tuesday

Verchick | Dec 01, 2015 | Chesapeake Bay

Dear Jeb: Crippling Federal Agencies Will Not Keep America Safe!

Verchick | Sep 22, 2015 | Regulatory Policy

VW Scandal: Can Anyone Still Doubt the Need for Regulation?

Verchick | Sep 22, 2015 | Food, Drug, Product Safety

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