The Age of Greed: Children on Motorcycles Chasing Goats

by Rena Steinzor | February 07, 2012

The debate over whether the government protects people exposed to industrial hazards enough—or whether it engages in ruinous “overregulation”—is only occasionally coherent. Sometimes it’s downright bizarre, and never is it for the faint of heart. Consider the case of kids working on farms. Following a series of gruesome accidents involving teenagers as young as 14 who were smothered in grain elevators or lost legs to giant augers used to shovel crops into storage silos, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposal in September to tighten prohibitions on children doing such dangerous work.  Existing rules have proven shockingly ineffective: the fatality rate for young agricultural workers is four times greater than for their peers in other workplaces.  They were written four decades ago, before many of the machines and methods now commonplace on today’s farms were developed.

The new rules would exempt children working with their parents on a true family farm (DOL last week made the exemptions even broader). They would also allow kids to raise animals for 4-H competitions and enroll in vocational training programs. They would prohibit children 15 years old and younger from operating tractors, augers, and other hazardous farm equipment, much as their peers off-the-farm cannot drive cars alone. Teens younger than 18 could not work inside grain elevators. Children could not work for money on tobacco farms because they are especially vulnerable to a form of nicotine poisoning known as “green tobacco ...

Holding Maryland Accountable for Its Chesapeake Bay Clean-Up Obligations

by Matthew Freeman | February 06, 2012
In an article in the most recent issue of The Abell Report, the newsletter of The Abell Foundation, CPR President Rena Steinzor and CPR Policy Analysts Aimee Simpson and Yee Huang take a look at what ails the Chesapeake Bay (Spoiler Alert: it involves years of inaction on pollution), and offer up a number of practical steps the state of Maryland could take to make good on its commitments to clean up this most precious of natural resources. The article ...

White House Declines to Put Anti-Regulation Measures in "Startup America" Legislative Agenda

by Rena Steinzor | February 03, 2012
The White House announced Tuesday a legislative agenda it is sending Congress as part of its Startup America initiative to foster the growth of new businesses. The White House was under some pressure to do wrong here: the President’s “Jobs Council” – a group mostly of CEOs – issued a report last month that included a perhaps unsurprising pile of old anti-regulatory proposals. And Senators Mark Warner and Jerry Moran were pushing the White House to endorse their bill, the ...

New Frontiers in OIRA Transparency

by James Goodwin | February 02, 2012
In its public meeting records, the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) frequently misspells the names or affiliations of the attendees. Senator Jon Kyl was once listed as “Sen. Rul.”  And John Ikerd, affiliated with the University of Missouri (MO) and the Sierra Club, was listed as “John Ikend, University of MD/Siemen Club.” Sometimes the misspelled names or affiliations are easy to figure out; other times they aren’t (see page 77 of our OIRA white paper from ...

New CPR White Paper: What FDA, EPA, and OSHA Should do about BPA

by Aimee Simpson | January 26, 2012
Today CPR releases Protecting the Public from BPA: An Action Plan for Federal Agencies (press release), outlining steps the FDA, EPA, and OSHA can take to use existing authorities to warn the public about the dangers of the chemical, and prepare longer-term regulatory controls. The paper was written by CPR Member Scholars Tom McGarity, Noah Sachs, and Rena Steinzor, and Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Shudtz and myself. Bisphenol A (BPA) makes me want to cry.  Not in the sad or ...

The Age of Greed: Science Drowned by Politics

by Rena Steinzor | January 25, 2012
Last week, a reporter asked me, “How’s science doing these days?,” “Science” is an impossibly big category, of course, but the answer was easy: “Badly,” I said. Exhibit number one is climate change. The frightening truth is that no fewer than 84 percent of scientists in this country surveyed by Pew say that the earth is warming because of human activity; 70 percent describe the problem as “very serious.” Although much is made of the supposed “dissenters” on the issue, no ...

Three Chirps for Risk Reduction

by Catherine O'Neill | January 24, 2012
A new study underscores the wisdom of reducing the risks of mercury and other pollutants rather than relying on risk avoidance measures such as fish consumption advisories.  Mercury’s adverse effects are not limited to human health; its harms are felt throughout our ecosystems.  According to this most recent study, released today by the Biodiversity Research Institute, mercury harms a broader swath of wildlife than previously recognized, including many bird species that are not piscivorous.  This finding echoes those of studies ...

Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership

by John Knox | January 20, 2012
For more than a century, the United States took the lead in organizing responses to international environmental problems.  The long list of environmental agreements spearheaded by the United States extends from early treaties with Canada and Mexico on boundary waters and migratory birds to global agreements restricting trade in endangered species and protecting against ozone depletion.  In the last two decades, however, U.S. environmental leadership has faltered.  The best-known example is the lack of an effective response to climate change, ...

Waiting for the GHG New Source Performance Standards: A Good Start, But Will EPA's Power Plant Controls Make a Difference?

by Alice Kaswan | January 19, 2012
The Clean Air Act’s potential to address the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions is slowly being unveiled.  EPA’s expected announcement of highly-anticipated new source performance standards for power plants by the end of January will reveal whether the agency has the political will to use its existing authority to re-shape the United States’ dependence upon high-carbon power.  Section 111 of the Clean Air Act is a potentially potent tool. It arguably allows EPA to re-direct new investment away from heavily-polluting coal-fired ...

Jobs Council's Shortsighted Report Calls for Gumming up Public Protections

by Rena Steinzor | January 17, 2012
A panel of business leaders comprising President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness today published a “Road Map to Renewal,” including proposals for expanded oil and gas drilling, and, of particular interest, five pages of policy recommendations related to regulation. Among them were procedural proposals aimed at further hamstringing regulatory agencies in their effort to promulgate badly needed safeguards for health, safety, and the environment.  For example, the Council proposes: lengthening the regulatory process by adding in an additional public-comment ...

Where Does NOAA Belong?

by Holly Doremus | January 14, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Clearly I need to slow down Rick’s internet connection to get him to stop scooping me. Rick reported earlier that the President has floated a proposal to reorganize the Commerce Department and related agencies which would apparently include moving NOAA (all of NOAA, according to OMB’s Jeffrey Zeints, not just its ESA functions) into the Department of Interior. Actually, although that’s the way the story is being spun out in the media, it’s not exactly what’s going ...

Can You Stand to Hear More About Sackett?

by Holly Doremus | January 11, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. As usual, I’m behind Rick on commenting on the latest Supreme Court development. (In my defense, it is the first day of classes, although I know that’s not much of an excuse.) Unlike Rick, I didn’t attend the oral argument (see lame excuse above), but having read the transcript I agree with the general consensus that EPA is going to lose this case. However, I don’t agree with Rick’s conclusion that “the Sacketts will wind up ...

GAO Releases New Report on IRIS

by Matt Shudtz | January 10, 2012
On Monday, GAO released its latest installment in what has become a somewhat regular series of reports on EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program.  In 2008, GAO warned that “the IRIS database was at serious risk of becoming obsolete because the agency had not been able to keep its existing assessments current, decrease its ongoing assessments workload to a manageable level, or complete assessments of the most important chemicals of concern.”  Although IRIS didn’t get a clean bill of ...

The Age of Greed: Chemical Industry Fights to Suppress Dioxin Assessment

by Rena Steinzor | January 09, 2012
With a reverential nod to maverick economist Jeff Madrick, who wrote a popular book of the same name, I begin today a series of blog posts entitled “The Age of Greed” that is designed to shine a bright spotlight into the dark corners where Washington lobbyists are busy looting the protection of public health, worker and consumer safety, and the environment.  Business-as-usual efforts to stall or derail regulation won’t make it into this space.  Rather, behavior has to be demonstrably ...

In Chevron versus Ecuador, the Decisions (and the Ironies) Multiply

by John Knox | January 09, 2012
If environmental cases had their own Olympics, the dispute between Chevron and Ecuador would be a contender for multiple gold medals.  It seems to have a shot not only at winning the award for the largest damages, but also for running the longest and appearing in the most courtrooms.  To recap:  Residents of the Amazon have been trying for nearly 20 years to receive compensation for massive environmental damage Chevron’s predecessor, Texaco, allegedly caused in Ecuador in what’s been called ...

In Sackett v. EPA, Troubling Potential for SCOTUS to Undermine Government's Ability to Promptly Respond to Environmental Threats

by Nina Mendelson | January 04, 2012
On January 9th, the Supreme Court will hear Sackett v. EPA, which concerns whether an individual has a right to a judicial hearing before, rather than after, an agency finalizes a so-called administrative compliance order.  The case has important potential to undermine the environmental protection, including the government’s ability to promptly respond to environmental threats such as factory outfalls leaking pollutants into rivers.  The lawsuit involves an Idaho couple, Chantell and Mike Sackett, with a .63 acre property overlooking Priest ...

CPR Announces New Executive Director: Jake Caldwell

by Rena Steinzor | January 03, 2012
It’s my great pleasure to announce that the Board of Directors of CPR has selected Jake Caldwell to serve as our new executive director. He succeeds Shana Jones, who earlier this year announced she would be leaving CPR to teach environmental policy at Old Dominion University.  Jake comes to CPR after six years at the Center for American Progress, where he was the Director of Policy for Agriculture, Trade and Energy. His research and writing in that capacity frequently focused ...

Looking in the Wrong Place: Senators Warner and Moran Join House GOP Seeking to Codify Cost-Benefit Analysis, an Erroneous Remedy for Anemic Economic Growth

by Sidney Shapiro | December 29, 2011
Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced a bill earlier this month that proposes to change regulatory and tax policies with the goal of encouraging more entrepreneurial activity and creating more jobs.  The legislation contains a grab-bag of proposals, such as allowing more aliens with professional expertise in stem cell research to become permanent residents and extending an income tax credit for certain small businesses.  I can’t speak to the merits of these and other proposals in the ...

The Center for Progressive Reform

455 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150-513
Washington, DC 20001
info@progressivereform.org
202.747.0698

© Center for Progressive Reform, 2015