API's Request for Delay on Greenhouse Gas Reg is a True Pitch in the Dirt
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 – that’s the oil and natural gas industry trade group – to delay until late 2013 forthcoming regulations on refineries, including landmark greenhouse gas regulations.
The current plan is for those rules to be finalized at the end of this year.
To review the bidding on this, the greenhouse gas regs would be among the first to emerge from EPA after a long and brutal battle that involved eight years of Bush Administration intransigence, even in the face of a Supreme Court ruling that all but ordered the Administration to go ahead and regulate greenhouse gases. The Bush effort pretty much spanned the industry playbook. On the campaign trail in 2000, compassionate conservative George W. Bush said he’d regulate carbon dioxide to combat climate change. Once elected, he reneged, and took the view that climate change needed much, much, much more study. Years of study, in fact. Of course, when the scientists weighed in, the Bush team worked to suppress
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
Looking Back at the Ozone Retreat: A Step Back for the Obama Administration on Science Integrity
Soon after assuming office in January 2009, President Obama promised that, in contrast to George W. Bush, science and law would be the two primary guiding stars for regulatory decision-making during his administration. From that perspective then, the finalized version of the EPA’s ozone standard should have been a no-brainer. After all, the standard was intended to replace the 2008 one issued in the dying days of the Bush Administration, which EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has slammed as legally and scientifically indefensible. The
Robert Adler Op-ed in Salt Lake Tribune Points to Utahn's Desires for Clean Environment and Healthy Economy
by Ben Somberg | September 26, 2011
Member Scholar Robert Adler had an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune over the weekend noting a new survey in Utah showing state residents valuing both a sound economy and a healthy environment as fundamental, co-equal requirements of their quality of life. The survey was part of a "Quality of Life Index" from the Utah Foundation, a group supported by many top businesses in the state. Adler explained the bigger picture: Fortunately, clean air and water are not incompatible with
Big Win for Children's Health in Second Circuit Risk Assessment Decision
In toxics regulation, environmental lawyers face an uphill battle when they challenge a risk assessment performed by a protector agency. Courts review the agency’s risk assessment under a deferential “arbitrary and capricious” standard, and courts are reluctant to second-guess an agency’s calculation of the risks of a pesticide or other chemicals. So it was a victory for both children’s health and sound science earlier this month when the Natural Resources Defense Council prevailed in its challenge of EPA’s flawed risk
The Regulatory Accountability Act: Putting the Screws to Health, Safety and Environmental Regulation
Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan) once remarked, “I’ll let you write the substance … you let me write the procedure, and I’ll screw you every time.” Legislation introduced yesterday in the Senate by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and in the House by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) to amend the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) proves Rep. Dingell knew what he was talking about. The APA is the law that governs the way the
The TRAIN Act: A Radical Deregulatory Plan, Even Before the Amendments
by Ben Somberg | September 22, 2011
Today the House is taking up debate on the “TRAIN Act”, a sweeping anti-regulatory bill that would serve to gum up the works at agencies that work to protect our health and the environment. The bill was bad to start with; then it became a true circus, with all sorts of regulation-blocking amendments being tacked on (See NRDC, and NRDC). An amendment offered by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) would completely rewrite the Clean Air Act, forcing the EPA to set National
Plan EJ 2014: Building a Foundation for Federal Environmental Justice Policy
Let’s stipulate: EPA’s withdrawal of a stronger ozone rule was the low point. And for many, a betrayal, a sedition, the nation’s biggest sell-out since Dylan went electric (or played China, take your pick). Still, Jackson’s EPA has accomplished a great deal. Last week the EPA showcased new policy devoted to one issue with which Jackson has associated herself since day one: environmental justice. The policy is called Plan EJ 2014, the agency’s comprehensive environmental justice strategy, planned to correspond with the
David Driesen Op-ed in Post-Standard Discusses Ozone Politics
by Ben Somberg | September 21, 2011
CPR Member Scholar David Driesen has an op-ed in this morning's Syracuse Post-Standard discussing the Administration's punt on the smog standard, arguing it's "unfortunate that President Obama has decided to embrace the Republican narrative about regulatory burdens instead of explaining the true causes of our economic woes." Remembering the role of financial deregulation in our economic crisis, Driesen writes: The lesson is that we need government standards to safeguard the economy, just as we need them to safeguard the environment.
Landry Calls Civil Servants the 'Gestapo.' Who Should Apologize?
In a dispiriting reminder that the more things change, the more they remain the same, Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) plucked a page from former Rep. Tom Delay’s playbook, denouncing federal civil servants as “the Gestapo” because when he popped into a local office unannounced and without an appointment last week, staff kept him waiting for 20 minutes. When federal deepwater drilling permit chief Michael Bromwich objected to Landry’s appalling rhetoric, the Representative doubled down on idiotic and demanded that Bromwich apologize. Both
Sneak Attack Against Regulation of Dangerous Snakes Countered in House of Representatives
Guest blogger Peter T. Jenkins is a lawyer and consultant working with the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS), committed to preventing further harm from invasive, non-native plants and animals. He is Executive Director of the Center for Invasive Species Prevention (CISP). If the federal government cannot regulate huge constrictor snakes that have already invaded twice in Florida, are preying on Endangered Species Act-listed species, can readily invade in other States and have killed more than a dozen people
CPR Seeks Executive Director
I regret to report that CPR is losing its outstanding executive director, Shana Jones. Shana’s tenure has produced a true CPR success story, when the organization stabilized on the funding front and its staff began steady growth. When Shana joined us, CPR staff was half its current size. In great measure because of her steady hand at the tiller, we’ve developed in almost every significant way since then. Our budget and staff are bigger, our profile is higher, our mission
The Ozone Standard as Presidential Policy: Some Concerns
Cross-posted from RegBlog. As Stuart Shapiro recently pointed out in a RegBlog post, President Obama himself made the decision a week ago to withdraw the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). Presidents have occasionally acted to resolve disputes between the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and EPA before, but typically OIRA acts in the President’s name without knowing exactly what he thinks about the regulatory details that OIRA negotiates with EPA. Stuart
Would Susan Collins' Regulatory Time-Out Act Really Block the Boiler MACT?
by Ben Somberg | September 13, 2011
Senator Susan Collins announced last week the “Regulatory Time-Out Act” (S. 1538), which would put a one-year moratorium on most “economically significant” regulations. On Monday, she said she had 16 other Senators on board – all Republicans. So while I’m not under any illusion this is going anywhere, one point jumped out at me for discussion. One of Senator Collins’ top targets in the past year has been the boiler MACT rule, which would require certain facilities to reduce their
Ten Fatal Flaws in the "Regulatory Uncertainty" Argument
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. A current conservative refrain is the regulatory uncertainty is holding back the economy. Consider an editorial entitled “Obama’s regulatory flood is drowning economic growth”: Businesses large and small face more uncertainty today about the federal regulatory environment than at any point since the New Deal . . . . Seeing this tsunami of red tape flooding out of Washington, company owners and executives wisely opt to delay new hires and investments until they have a clearer
More Anti-EPA Shenanigans? Is IRIS Next on the Hit List? We'll Be Watching
From what we hear, EPA is not a happy place these days, and we don’t wonder why. Never did a hard-pressed staff deserve so much guff, less. Politico reported that the White House is treating Lisa Jackson with kid gloves, hoping against hope that she won’t up and quit on them over the outrageous White House trashing of the efforts to update an outmoded, unhealthy, and legally indefensible 1997 ozone standard. Good thinking for a change. With the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sending
White House Review of "Chemicals of Concern" List A Full Year Past Due
by Lena Pons | September 08, 2011
In May 2010, EPA sent a draft “Chemicals of Concern” list, including bisphenol A (BPA) and five other chemicals, to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review. The proposed list would be the first time EPA has used its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to publish such a list of chemicals that “may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.” Today marks one year since OIRA exceeded the 120-day deadline
Lisa Jackson Should Promulgate the Ozone Standard or Resign
Last Friday, President Obama ordered EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw EPA’s new ambient air quality standard for ground level ozone (smog). The order came in a letter from Cass Sunstein, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget. The order does not pretend to be based on science. Indeed, it flies in the face of the available science on the human health effects of ozone as determined on at least two occasions