Sidney Shapiro Testifying at House Judiciary Hearing on Regulatory Accountability Act

by Ben Somberg | October 25, 2011

If you were an industry lobbyist working to block new health and safety protections, what would make your job easier? How about if the law said that you could flood an agency with alternate regulatory proposals, and the agency wouldn’t just need to consider each one, but in fact conduct a full cost-benefit analysis on them all? That would probably be an effective way to tie up the agency quite nicely, and block it from getting its work of protecting the public done.

And that’s exactly what one of the provisions in the “Regulatory Accountability Act,” the subject of a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee this morning, would do. The bill would require an agency to do a cost-benefit study for “any reasonable alternatives for a new rule or other response identified by the agency or interested persons.” That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Point is, if you want to bog agencies down, this one’s for you.

CPR Member Scholar Sidney Shapiro will be testifying at the hearing. Among the points in his testimony:

  • The regulatory system is already too ossified, and H.R. 3010 would only exacerbate this problem.  It currently takes four to eight years for an agency to promulgate and enforce most significant rules, and the proposed procedures would likely add another two to three years to the process.  In the meantime, thousands of people would die and tens of thousands more would ...

New CPR Briefing Paper: Maryland Should Update Laws to Better Enforce Environmental Protections

by Yee Huang | October 21, 2011
Maryland has a long-held reputation as a regional and national leader in environmental protection. But in some areas, especially enforcement, that reputation warrants scrutiny, says a CPR briefing paper released today. For example, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) cannot by law assess fees for issuing and administering permits for municipalities for water pollution, despite the many resources required to regulate and monitor the pollution. The state’s penalties for violating the Clean Water Act have remained chronically below the level ...

CPR to Co-Host Forum on Chesapeake Bay Restoration Accountability

by Yee Huang | October 20, 2011
It’s no secret that past efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay have suffered from a lack of accountability. And so as the EPA, the Chesapeake Bay states, and the District of Columbia engage in their current effort to restore the health and water quality of the Bay, getting accountability right is extremely important. This theme is the focus of this year’s Ward Kershaw Forum, which CPR and the UMaryland Carey School of Law will co-host at the law school in ...

Too Big to Rein in, BP Continues Galloping Along, Unbridled and Unrepentant

by Rena Steinzor | October 19, 2011
In perhaps the most profoundly embarrassing development yet for the U.S. government’s star-crossed efforts to police offshore drilling, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced last week that it was asking BP, Transocean, and Halliburton to pay a total of up to $45.7 million in fines for 15 violations arising out of the catastrophic failure of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s million, not billion, by the way, and a total for all three companies, ...

Executive Order 13,563: Not Just Costs, Not Just Benefits, But Cumulative Costs and Benefits

by Rena Steinzor | October 18, 2011
Proving the old adage that you must be careful what you wish for, conservative officials in 25 states have done their best to hoist the Obama Administration on its own petard by running off to court to oppose the EPA rule that would curb toxic emissions from power plants. They argue, among other things, that the agency had not itemized the “cumulative” costs of this and all other electric-utility-oriented regulations under Executive Order 13,563 and needed at least another year to ...

House Votes to Give Coal Ash Dumps a Free Pass; President Stops Short of Veto Threat

by Rena Steinzor | October 17, 2011
The residents of Kingston, Tennessee had no inkling that the Christmas of 2008 would be any different than another year. In the wee morning hours three days before the holiday, an earthen dam holding back a 40-acre surface impoundment at a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) power plant burst, releasing 1 billion gallons of inky coal ash sludge across Kingston, Tennessee. The sludge flood crossed a river, destroying 26 houses. One had a man inside, and was lifted off its foundation and ...

Beware of Plastics Manufacturers Bearing Gifts of BPA Bans

by Rena Steinzor | October 14, 2011
This post was co-authored by CPR President Rena Steinzor and CPR Policy Analyst Aimee Simpson. In what at first glance seemed to be a startlingly uncharacteristic move, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to update and strengthen its food additive regulation that sets out the approved uses for polycarbonate resins.   For those who don’t speak plastic, “polycarbonate resin” refers to plastic that contains bisphenol-A or “BPA”—an endocrine-disrupting chemical with significant health risks, especially for babies. Polycarbonate ...

EPA Should Move Forward on Naming Priority Chemicals

by Lena Pons | October 11, 2011
EPA’s chemical management efforts have been under attack on every front. Chemical safety was one of Lisa Jackson’s priorities from her first day as EPA administrator. But during her tenure, efforts to improve chemicals policy at the agency have been met with fierce resistance. One recent attack was on EPA’s efforts to identify priority chemicals for risk assessment and risk management.  Jackson has already tried one strategy to beef up the agency’s response to hazardous chemicals through the Chemical Action Plans. The plans quickly ...

Scrambling the Truth on Toxics: IRIS Under Fire Again

by Wayland Radin | October 07, 2011
Continuing their crusade to undermine the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), the most prominent worldwide database of toxicological profiles of common chemicals, House Republicans held yet another hearing Thursday morning to review how the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) chemical risk assessment program interacts with and informs regulatory policy. This time, witnesses descended from politics into the weeds of science policy, doing their best to pretend that scientific risk assessments that say how “safe” dioxin is or isn’t have the same ...

Obama and Ozone: Executing Regulation by Presidential Order

by Rena Steinzor | October 06, 2011
The blog post was co-authored by Rena Steinzor and James Goodwin. When President Obama issued his new Executive Order 13563 this past January – the one calling on agencies to “look-back” at existing regulations –speculation abounded as to what, if any effect, it would have on agencies’ rulemaking. Setting aside the look-back plan provisions (and the President’s unproductive anti-regulation rhetoric in the Wall Street Journal), the new Order didn’t seem to add much to the 18-year-old Executive Order 12866, save for ...

New EPA Guidance Will Bring Some Needed Scrutiny of Institutional Controls at Toxic Sites, But Still Doesn't Require Checking That People are Actually Protected

by Catherine O'Neill | October 05, 2011
At a growing number of contaminated sites across the nation, “cleanup” means that toxic contaminants are left in place while environmental agencies look to institutional controls (ICs) to limit human contact with these contaminants. Agencies hope that ICs such as deed restrictions or advisory signs will inform people about the continued presence of contaminants at a site and help them steer clear, thus avoiding exposure. Yet agencies have done little to ascertain whether these hopes are well-founded, particularly over the long term. Against ...

ACC Has IRIS on its Hit List

by Matt Shudtz | October 04, 2011
A few weeks ago, Rena Steinzor used this space to highlight some questionable activity happening at EPA’s IRIS office and wonder, “ Is IRIS Next on the Hit List?” The good news last week was that EPA released a number of documents, including the controversial and long-awaited assessment of TCE, giving some reassurance that IRIS staff are still plugging away at their important work (see Jennifer Sass and Daniel Rosenberg over at Switchboard for more on the TCE news). A new ...

As More Sickened From Tainted Cantaloupes, House on Track to Cut Food Safety Budget

by Thomas McGarity | October 04, 2011
Last week, we learned that the nation suffered the deadliest outbreak of foodborne disease in the last decade or more. As Jensen Farms of  Granada, Colorado recalled millions of potentially contaminated “Rocky Road” cantaloupes, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control concluded that 15 deaths and 84 serious illnesses in 19 states were caused by melons containing the rare but exceedingly virulent bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The disease they contracted, called Listeriosis, has a mortality rate of around 25 percent. Those victims who are ...

Does the Tea Party Cause Unemployment?

by Daniel Farber | October 03, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. I’ve done several postings about the theory that regulatory uncertainty causes unemployment.  I’m skeptical of the claim as a general matter, but if there’s any validity to it, one of the major causes of regulatory uncertainty is the Tea Party, along with other libertarians and opponents of regulation. It’s not hard to see how the prospect of deregulation could cause businesses to delay investments and hiring: Why build a new power plant today when you may ...

Repealing Oil and Gas Subsidies to Fund the Jobs Bill: Good Policy Any Way You Look at It

by Joseph Tomain | October 03, 2011
This post was written by Member Scholars Kirsten Engel, William Funk, and Joseph Tomain, and Policy Analyst Wayland Radin. The President’s recently announced American Jobs Act would be partially funded by repealing oil and gas subsidies, including subsidies in the forms of tax credits and exemptions. Eliminating these unnecessary and harmful subsidies would be a long overdue step toward sound climate and energy policies. Oil and gas subsidies cost American taxpayers billions of dollars every year, but have long since ceased to ...

Auto Dealers Group Wrong About How EPA Considers Costs in Vehicle Efficiency Standards

by Amy Sinden | September 29, 2011
This post was written by Member Scholar Amy Sinden and Policy Analyst Lena Pons. Last week, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) sponsored a fly-in lobby day to support an amendment that would strip EPA of the authority to set greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger cars and light trucks for 2017-2025. The amendment, offered earlier this year by Rep. Steve Austria (R-Ohio), would prevent EPA from spending any money to implement the 2017-2025 standards. NADA wants the National Highway Traffic ...

API's Request for Delay on Greenhouse Gas Reg is a True Pitch in the Dirt

by Matthew Freeman | September 28, 2011
Nothing attracts attacks in politics quite like a show of weakness. That’s obviously how energy industry lobbyists read President Obama’s recent retreat on ozone standards. So now that the Administration has demonstrated its willingness – you might even call it eagerness – to cave in on much needed environmental regulation, it’s no surprise that polluting industries are of a mind to press their luck.  How else to explain a request to the Environmental Protection Agency from the American Petroleum Institute – ...

Top Regulatory Opponents Tout Story Claiming EPA Wants to Make 230,000 New Hires; Turns Out Agency Was Arguing Specifically Against It

by Amy Sinden | September 27, 2011
It all started Monday on the Daily Caller. The story claimed that the EPA, in planning regulations on greenhouses gasses, is “asking for taxpayers to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats — at a cost of $21 billion — to attempt to implement the rules.” The story spread like wild among many of the usual suspects, like National Review, Red State  and Fox News. And it was promoted by some of the top anti-regulation advocates in Congress: Senator ...

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