Myths, Realities, and the Clean Water Rule Controversy

by Dave Owen | March 06, 2017

Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog by CPR Member Scholar Dave Owen.

Last Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on a new rule defining the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The rule, if and when it is finalized, would replace the "Clean Water Rule" released by EPA and the Corps during the summer of 2015. Much of the political rhetoric surrounding the Clean Water Rule has suggested that the 2015 rule was responsible for massive economic impacts and that removing it will be a source of economic relief. President Trump's own remarks, for example, were riddled with such complaints. But for several years, I've been researching the implementation of federal stream and wetland protections (the results of those inquiries appear in just-published articles here and here and in an earlier article here). The truth, I've learned, bears little resemblance to President Trump's claims.

In fact, the 2015 rule has had hardly any impact. That's partly because the Sixth Circuit stayed implementation of the rule not long after it was enacted. But even if the rule had remained in force, its primary consequences would have been minor adjustments in the scope of federal jurisdiction and somewhat heightened levels of consistency and predictability. Indeed, the scope of federal jurisdiction would have been narrower than it was in 1986, when EPA and the Army ...

Catching Up on CPR's Recent Op-Edery

by Matthew Freeman | March 06, 2017
Unless you regularly read newspapers from markets ranging from Baltimore to Houston to the San Francisco Bay area, chances are that you missed some of the op-eds that CPR’s scholars and staff published in the nation’s newspapers in February. We post links on our website, of course; you can find them on the various issue pages, as well as on our op-eds page. But we thought CPRBlog readers might appreciate a quick rundown from last month, so here goes: In ...

Recent Trump Anti-Reg Order Could Breathe New Life into Dangerous Old Law

by James Goodwin | March 03, 2017
The first rule of reading anti-regulatory bills, executive orders, and other policy prescriptions is: Sweat the hyper-technical, anodyne-sounding stuff. And President Donald Trump's February 24 executive order on "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda" demonstrates why this rule exists.  One of the order's provisions – which no doubt caused glaze to form over many an eye – read: "[E]ach Regulatory Reform Task Force shall attempt to identify regulations that . . . are inconsistent with the requirements of section 515 of ...

Regulatory Paralysis by Preemption: GMO Food Labeling and Potentially More

by Lesley McAllister | March 02, 2017
Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog by CPR Member Scholar Lesley McAllister. Did you know that as of July 2016, we have a new federal law mandating that genetically engineered food be labeled? It is true – see 7 U.S.C. § 1639(b)(2)(D) (Jul. 29, 2016). So when, you might ask, will you be able to know which of all those foods we buy at the grocery store are produced with GMOs? It could be a very long wait. For one thing, ...

No, They Don't, Mr. Pruitt

by Robert Glicksman | March 02, 2017
In his first speech upon assuming his duties as EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt informed the agency's employees that "regulators exist to give certainty to those that they regulate." No, Mr. Pruitt, they do not. Regulators and the regulations they are responsible for adopting and enforcing exist to protect the public interest. In particular, they exist to correct market failures, such as the refusal of polluting industries to internalize the costs of the harm they do to public health and the ...

Baltimore Sun op-ed: Bay Cleanup Must Factor in Climate Change

by David Flores | February 28, 2017
This op-ed originally ran in the Baltimore Sun. Last summer, when floodwaters nearly wiped out Old Ellicott City, many people looked at the damage as bad luck caused by a 500-year storm. The truth is that such storms are no longer rare events. The Northeast United States has experienced a staggering 70 percent increase in intense rainstorms thanks to climate change. Unfortunately, efforts in the Chesapeake Bay region to adapt policies to address these threats are lagging far behind, and ...

Congress Wants Land Agency to Ignore the Facts and Future

by Robert Glicksman | February 28, 2017
Imagine you come across a colleague sitting at his desk amid piles of yellowed papers. When you ask what he is working on, he says it's his annual family budget. "What's with all the old papers?" you might ask. "Oh," he replies, "I always work my new budget off my receipts and bills from 1983, the year we married. Some of them are getting pretty hard to read." "Don't you keep updated records?" you might ask. "And haven't your family ...

Environmental Federalism and Scott Pruitt -- We've Been Here Before

by Evan Isaacson | February 27, 2017
The ascension of Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ushers in a new chapter in the long story of cooperative federalism in the administration of U.S. environmental laws. Pruitt's words and actions as the Attorney General of Oklahoma suggest that, as much as any other issue, idea, or policy, federalism will be a recurring theme. But are the cries about federalism really about finding the proper balance of state and federal roles in implementation of our ...

Is Texas Cleaning Up Its Act?

by Daniel Farber | February 21, 2017
At a national meeting of state utility regulators, the head of the group recently said that the Clean Power Plan was basically dead, but this might not matter because "arguably, you're seeing market-based decarbonization" due to technological changes. Case in point: Texas. Market trends are pushing Republican stronghold Texas toward a cleaner grid. ERCOT, which operates nearly all of the state's grid, recently projected that in the next fifteen years, Texas will add almost 20 gigawatts of solar, equivalent to 15-20 ...

Why the REINS Act Is Unconstitutional

by Bill Funk | February 14, 2017
The so-called Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act) has already passed the House this year, as it did in previous sessions. The current version, which amends the Congressional Review Act (CRA), differs somewhat from previous versions but still suffers from a fatal flaw – it is unconstitutional.  The current REINS Act has three parts. One part essentially reflects the recent Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, except that the REINS Act only ...

The Cabinet and the Rule of Law

by David Driesen | February 06, 2017
To carry out their duty under the Constitution, senators must ask themselves the following question when considering a president's cabinet nominee: Will this person faithfully execute the laws, even if the president wishes to ignore them and carry out a contrary policy? Unless the answer to that question is a clear "Yes," they must reject the nominee.  Alexander Hamilton explained in The Federalist Papers that the Constitution authorizes the Senate to disapprove of presidential nominees to discourage the president from ...

Some Good News: Recent Indicators Show More Progress in the Chesapeake Bay

by Evan Isaacson | February 02, 2017
This week, the Chesapeake Bay Program released its annual Bay Barometer report. Along with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's annual State of the Bay and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Chesapeake Bay Report Card, the Bay Program's report closes out the assessments of the Bay for 2016 (for what it's worth, CPR Member Scholar Rena Steinzor and I released our own assessment last year). The Bay Barometer is chock full of charts describing the progress (and lack thereof) ...

Trump's Latest Executive Order: Scrap Two Regs for the Price of One

by Amy Sinden | January 31, 2017
Remember how Donald Trump bragged he was going to run the country like a business? Imagine if before Trump could open a new casino, he was bound by a rule to close two existing casinos, and the costs of the new casino couldn't exceed the cost savings from no longer operating the old ones. Would this make sense as a business strategy? Of course not. Unless, of course, you were secretly trying to sabotage the business and run it into the ...

You Can't Always Get What You Want

by Matt Shudtz | January 31, 2017
As long as Donald Trump is in the White House, progressives should harbor no delusions that the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is going to be a wool-socks-in-Birkenstocks tree hugger. Scott Pruitt is certainly no such individual. But nor is he a person with the experience, depth of understanding of the agency’s programs, or temperament to run the agency. The job of EPA Administrator under President Trump will surely prove to be the most thankless cabinet-level job. Trump ...

Tax Credits and Public Spending on Infrastructure

by David Driesen | January 30, 2017
Donald Trump based his candidacy on the claim that he would serve working-class people who established politicians have neglected. He promised $1 trillion of infrastructure investment over 10 years, which could generate a lot of blue-collar employment while potentially repairing crumbling bridges and roads, replacing antiquated wastewater treatment systems (in Flint and elsewhere), and creating a mass transit system that could move us into the 21st century in that realm. A sound infrastructure program, unlike anything else that Trump has ...

Andrew Puzder Should Not Be the Next Labor Secretary

by Katie Tracy | January 30, 2017
The Senate Labor Committee will hold a confirmation hearing Feb. 7 on President Donald Trump's nomination of Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor. If confirmed by a vote of the full Senate, Puzder will oversee all of the agencies and departments within the Department of Labor, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). This is troubling, to say the least, because a look at Puzder's ...

Distracter-in-Chief

by Matthew Freeman | January 25, 2017
Only a few days into the Trump administration, and a “gang that doesn’t shoot straight” narrative is taking root in the media. From outright lies about crowd numbers at the inauguration, to fictionalized accounts of millions of illegally cast votes, to hashtag-ready assertions about “alternative facts,” it’s been a rough start, and the media is covering it all, exposing the dishonesty. That, at least, is how I imagine the conversation is going in Washington, D.C., news bureaus. But while all ...

CPR Statement: Rep. Mick Mulvaney Should Not Be Confirmed to Lead the Office of Management and Budget

by Brian Gumm | January 24, 2017
NEWS RELEASE: Rep. Mick Mulvaney Should Not Be Confirmed to Lead the Office of Management and Budget                                                                                                              Today, the Senate Committees on Budget and Homeland Security ...

Trump Cuts and the EPA: Making America Less Healthy Again

Mintz | Mar 27, 2017 | Environmental Policy

Trumping Innovation

Tomain | Mar 21, 2017 | Energy

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