The End of the Acid Rain Program

by Lesley McAllister | July 12, 2011

Cross-posted from Environmental Law Prof Blog.

Do you realize that the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency  last week represents the end of the famed Acid Rain Program? It's a good thing because the Acid Rain Program had outlived its usefulness by several years and its allowance market had collapsed.

Legislated into existence by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the Acid Rain Program (ARP) was a major experiment with cap-and-trade regulation. It began in 1995, and its first few years were quite a success. With the ability to bank allowances for future years when they might be quite valuable, the power plants included in the program reduced their pollution by more than they had to. In the first five years of the program, EPA’s annual caps allowed them to emit a total of 38 million tons of sulfur dioxide, but the power plants actually only emitted 26 million tons. So when the program was expanded to include smaller power generators in 2000, the big utilities were sitting pretty with about 12 million ton of allowances in the bank (for a blow-by-blow of overallocation in this and other cap-and-trade programs see my article, The Overallocation Problem In Cap-And-Trade: Moving Toward Stringency, 34 COLUM. J. OF ENVTL. LAW 396 (2009).

But in the end, many of the big power plants probably didn’t make as much money selling their banked ...

Member Scholars Pen Letter to OMB on Attacks on EPA's IRIS Toxics Database

by Ben Somberg | July 08, 2011
Last month, the American Chemistry Council sent a letter to Jacob Lew, Director of the Office of Managmenet and Budget, calling on OMB to “take greater responsibility in the coordination and review of chemical safety assessments” and to “require EPA to submit all ongoing EPA IRIS assessments to the NAS for independent review.” The letter was the latest industry attack on the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), the EPA’s primary toxicological database. IRIS assessments of chemicals are used in regulatory ...

Looking Back, But How Much Looking Ahead? Agencies Release Regulatory Agendas Months Late

by Lena Pons | July 07, 2011
The Administration has been busy promoting President Obama’s new approach to regulatory review, which required federal regulatory agencies to produce plans for how they would review existing regulations and look for regulations to cut. But while the mad dash to find regulations the administration can trot out as misguided or outdated continued, the agencies were delayed in releasing plans about what they want to do proactively to protect workers, children, and the environment. As our friend Celeste Monforton over at The ...

Species Conservation Efforts Only a Scapegoat in Missouri River Flooding

by Sandra Zellmer | July 06, 2011
This post was written by CPR Member Scholar Sandra Zellmer and John H. Davidson, an emeritus professor of law at the University of South Dakota. It appeared first in the Omaha World-Herald. As the Missouri River nears the 500-year flood mark, we sympathize with those whose homes and businesses are flooded. And we recognize that it’s natural for the afflicted to cast blame on a scapegoat — a practice as old as recorded history. But those who blame the flooding ...

BPA, the Chamber of Commerce, and a Summer Road Trip to Remember

by Shana Campbell Jones | July 05, 2011
Let’s go on a road trip. Whether it’s the beach or the mountains, we all know what going on a road trip means: great memories, possible adventure, time to mosey around the country we love. The Chamber of Commerce is also planning a road trip this summer, headed by former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Andrew Card, George W. Bush’s former chief of staff. But fun and relaxation are not on the itinerary. Regulations that could protect our children are. At ThinkProgress, CPR Member Scholar ...

OIRA's Annual Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Regulation: Sunstein Rips another Page from the Republican Playbook

by Amy Sinden | June 30, 2011
Upon reading the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ (OIRA) latest annual Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations, one can be forgiven for wondering momentarily whether the 2008 election was just a dream and whether we’re still in the midst of a Republican administration. OIRA is telling us that the primary goal of government regulation—particularly environmental, health, and safety regulation—is not to protect the environment or public health, but to “promote[] the goals of ...

Cass Sunstein and the Obama Legacy

by Rena Steinzor | June 28, 2011
Cross-posted from ACSblog. A series of catastrophic regulatory failures in recent years has focused attention on the weakened condition of regulatory agencies assigned to protect public health, worker and consumer safety, and the environment. The failures are the product of a destructive convergence of funding shortfalls, political attacks, and outmoded legal authority, setting the stage for ineffective enforcement and unsupervised industry self-regulation. From the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico that killed eleven and caused grave environmental and ...

EPA's Apparent Effort to Appease Environmentalists over the Boiler MACT Rule Not Very Appeasing

by Catherine O'Neill | June 24, 2011
The EPA has developed an inexplicable penchant for making decisions that please no one. So, it should come as no surprise that its announcement today regarding the ongoing, will-they-won’t-they Boiler MACT saga falls into this category too. The agency traded in the indefinite delay it gave itself last month to “reconsider” the final Boiler MACT standards it issued in February for a firm deadline:  The EPA now promises to complete the reconsidered final standard by the end of April of 2012. Environmentalists responded ...

Evan Bayh Kicks off Anti-Regulatory Campaign With Series of Falsehoods

by Sidney Shapiro | June 24, 2011
On Wednesday, former senator Evan Bayh joined former George W. Bush Chief of Staff Andy Card at the Chamber of Commerce to formally announce their plans to tour around the country campaigning against regulations. The pair have already jumped into a series of falsehoods, endorsing, for example, the discredited SBA-sponsored study claiming regulations cost $1.75 Trillion in a year. Over at ThinkProgress, CPR Member Scholar Sidney Shapiro takes a closer look at the pair's claims: Bayh and Card see regulators ...

Four Anti-Regulatory Proposals to Get Senate Hearing Thursday

by Sidney Shapiro | June 22, 2011
Fact: It often takes agencies up to 10 years (in some cases even longer) to develop and issue critical regulations needed to protect people and the environment. These delays may save corporations money, but they impose real and preventable costs in terms of lives lost, money wasted, and ecosystems destroyed. The reasons for this delay are not hard to divine. Before it can issue a rule, agencies must run a highly complex gauntlet of analyses and reviews that have piled up thanks to ...

U.S. House Targets Early Government Efforts to Help Citizens Prepare for and Cope With Effects of Climate Change

by Robert Verchick | June 22, 2011
Imagine you are building a beach house somewhere on the Gulf Coast and that I had some information about future high tides that would help you build a smarter structure, avoid flood damage, and save money in the long-run. Would you want that information? Not if you follow the reasoning of Representatives Steve Scalise of Louisiana or John Carter of Texas. Both are concerned about the Obama administration’s recent efforts to make federal programs stronger and more resilient in the ...

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the AEP v. CT Opinion

by Ben Somberg | June 21, 2011
CPR Member Scholar Doug Kysar has a post over at Nature with more analysis on the Supreme Court's ruling this week in the American Electric Power v. Connecticut case. Writes Kysar: The court went out of its way to emphasize that federal common-law actions would be barred, even if the EPA decides not to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. In other words, the fact that the agency has authority under the Clean Air Act — even if it chooses not to exercise ...

Keep Government's Hands Off Our Food? Next Time You Read about an Outbreak of Salmonella or E. coli, Thank Jack Kingston (R-GA)

by Rena Steinzor | June 21, 2011
Manic House Republicans voted last Thursday to de-fund the implementation of a landmark law, passed just a few months ago, to strengthen Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to police tainted food. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), chairman of the House subcommittee that wrote the agriculture appropriations bill, announced on the House floor that the cuts were justified because the nation's food supply was “99.99 percent safe.”  “Do we believe that McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken and Safeway and Kraft Food and ...

Supreme Court Ruling in The American Electric Power Case

by Daniel Farber | June 20, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. The Supreme Court decided the AEP case.  The jurisdictional issues (standing and the political question doctrine) got punted.  The Court said that the lower court rulings were affirmed by an equally divided court.  So far as I know, this is the first time that the Court has ever done that and then proceeded to a ruling on the merits.  (It would seem more appropriate to dismiss cert. as improvidently granted rather than issue an opinion on ...

Chamber of Commerce Gets the Law Wrong in its Argument to the White House Against Listing BPA as a Chemical of Concern

by Matthew Freeman | June 20, 2011
As part of its ongoing campaign to derail health, safety, and environmental regulations that it regards as inconvenient to industry, the Chamber of Commerce sent a letter earlier this month to Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the White Hosue Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, calling on him to push the EPA to suspend an initiative to list BPA and several other substances as "Chemicals of Concern." Today three Member Scholars of the Center for Progressive Reform sent a letter to ...

Administration Pandering to Anti-Regulatory Business Leaders Gets Cold Shoulder

by Matthew Freeman | June 17, 2011
The Washington Post reports today on the White House’s latest failed effort to extract political gain from the President’s misguided “regulatory look-back,” led with disturbing enthusiasm by Cass Sunstein, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The story tells us a lot about the thinking of the man who controls access to the President, and also lays bare a failing of the way the media covers regulatory issues. According to the Post, White House chief of ...

Climate Change Meets the Little Mermaid

by Robert Verchick | June 12, 2011
Copenhagen—Denmark’s famed "Little Harbor Lady," or in English, "Little Mermaid," has had her share of antics and perils. She’s been photographed by millions in Copenhagen’s harbor, carted off and shown at the 2010 World Fair in Shanghai, beheaded (several times), dynamited, splashed with pink paint, and enveloped in a Burqua. An environmental nerd for all occasions, I look at her longing face and wonder, How long before the rising sea swallows her up? Bolted to that rock in the sea, ...

New CPR Report Proposes Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation in the Puget Sound

by Yee Huang | June 10, 2011
The scope of climate change impacts is expected to be extraordinary, touching every ecosystem on the planet and affecting human interactions with the natural and built environment. From increased surface and water temperatures to sea level rise and more frequent extreme weather events, climate change promises vast and profound alterations to our world. Indeed, scientists predict continued climate change impacts regardless of any present or future mitigation efforts due to the long-lived nature of greenhouse gases emitted over the last century.  The ...

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