What We're Reading, Oceans Edition

by Holly Doremus | February 11, 2011

Cross-posted from Legal Planet.

Here’s some of what’s going on in the ocean policy world:

  • BOEMRE is reviewing the first post-moratorium application to drill an exploratory deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico. As required by a June Notice to Lessees, Shell’s application to drill 130 miles from shore in 2000 to 2900 feet of water includes a blowout scenario. Shell anticipates that drilling a relief well would take 109 days, during which time 12.3 million barrels of oil could be discharged, more than twice what the Deepwater Horizon dumped into the Gulf. The application includes a brief environmental impact assessment which acknowledges that the Macondo blowout showed that the impacts of a large spill could be worse than previously thought, but offers very little in the way of analysis of potential impacts. Mostly it repeats over and over again that a large spill is unlikely. BOEMRE has 30 days from January 28, when the application was deemed submitted, to review it. NRDC and other environmental groups have asked BOEMRE to prepare a full EIS before approving the plan.
  • Meanwhile, a group of marine scientists argues in the journal Science (subscription required) that the lack of baseline data on the Gulf ecosystem make it very difficult to plan or evaluate restoration efforts. They contend that “The United States needs strategic national research plans for key marine species and ecosystems based on evaluation ...

Live-Tweeting from Issa Hearing on Regulation

by Matthew Freeman | February 10, 2011
We'll be live-tweeting today's hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  Follow @CPRBlog. ...

CPR's Noah Sachs in New Republic on REINS

by Matthew Freeman | February 10, 2011
CPR Member Scholar Noah Sachs has a piece on The New Republic's website dismantling the GOP House majority's favority piece of anti-regulatory legislation, the REINS Act.  The proposal would block all regulations from taking effect unless they are specifically approved by both houses of Congress within 70 days of submission and then signed into effect by the President. He writes: Last year, [the Office of Management and Budget] concluded that the annual cost of major rules issued between FY 1999 and ...

CPR's Shapiro Testifies this Morning on Benefits of Regulation

by Matthew Freeman | February 10, 2011
This morning, CPR Member Scholar Sidney Shapiro will testify before Rep. Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the economic value of regulation.  He'll be a lone voice on the roster of witnesses.  The hearing will have two panels of witnesses.  The first will feature five industry representatives, and the second will feature two representatives of right-wing think tanks (Heritage and Mercatus), one leader of a nonprofit that advocates for small businesses, and Shapiro.  That would be eight witnesses ...

The Issa Letters: Republicans Go Hunting for Regulations

by Rena Steinzor | February 10, 2011
GOP leaders in the House of Representatives will push a resolution today directing the various committees of the House to “inventory and review existing, pending, and proposed regulations and orders from agencies of the federal government, particularly with respect to their effect on jobs and economic growth.” Thus begins what Republicans and their industry friends hope will be a productive hunting season in the rich woods of regulatory safeguards that protect public health, worker and consumer safety, and the environment. Not ...

Contempt? Not by Interior

by Holly Doremus | February 09, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Conservative media and bloggers are making much of a ruling last week by Judge Martin Feldman of the Eastern District of Louisiana that the Department of Interior was in contempt of his June 2010 order enjoining enforcement of the May moratorium on new deepwater exploratory drilling for oil. The Washington Times, for example, accused the administration of “tempt[ing] a constitutional confrontation.” Not so fast. Judge Feldman’s latest decision says more about the contempt of some conservative ...

With Friends Like These..... White House Throws OSHA Under the Bus

by Celeste Monforton | February 08, 2011
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. I was already tired of President Obama repeating the Republican's rhetoric about big, bad regulations, how they stifle job creation, put an unnecessary burden on businesses, and make our economy less competitive. He did so last month in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and in his State of the Union address. But yesterday, the White House went too far. In advance of the President's speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the chief ...

SBA's Report on 'Costs of Regulation' Debunked

by Sidney Shapiro | February 08, 2011
Having voted to repeal health care legislation, House Republicans have now taken aim at government regulations, describing efforts to protect people and the environment as “job-killing.”  This claim conveniently papers over the fact that it was the lack of regulation of Wall Street that tanked the economy and caused the current downturn.  But nonetheless, seeking rhetorical points to boost their anti-regulations campaign, House Republicans are trumpeting a recent report, done for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. The report, authored ...

EPA's Leisurely Timeline on Perchlorate Announcement Leaves Effort Vulnerable to Being Undercut

by Rena Steinzor | February 02, 2011
Today's announcement by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that EPA will move toward regulating perchlorate, reversing a decision by the George W. Bush Administration, is bittersweet. It’s great that EPA has recognized the need to regulate, but the agency has adopted such a leisurely timeline that the entire effort could end up being undercut. The agency said: "EPA intends to publish the proposed regulation and analyses for public review and comment within 24 months. EPA will consider the public comments and ...

Location, Location, Location: Assisted Migration May be Coming Closer to a Reality as a Response to Climate Change

by Yee Huang | February 01, 2011
a(broad) perspective While discussion of adapting to climate change is finally beginning to take off in the United States, other governments from Bangladesh to the Netherlands have already laid the foundation to develop concrete policies and implement strategies to address the impacts. Last week, a report released by the UK’s Environment Agency specifically identified relocation of coldwater fish as a possible direct response to the effects of climate change. We're going to be hearing a lot more in the coming years about ...

The President Muffed it on Salmon

by Dan Rohlf | January 28, 2011
In his State of the Union speech to Congress Tuesday night, President Obama suggested that reducing inefficient federal bureaucracy can help reduce federal spending and promote economic growth. Stretching to find a lighthearted example of government ineptness, the President quipped that “the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked." This remark may have elicited ...

The GOP Majority Weighs in on Regulatory Reform

by Rena Steinzor | January 26, 2011
On Capitol Hill this morning, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is holding a hearing on what it describes as the “Views of the Administration on Regulatory Reform.” The star witness will be Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, better known as the “regulatory czar” of the Obama Administration. As you might have read already in this space, last week the President launched a new regulatory initiative in which ...

New CPR Report says State Plans for Chesapeake Bay Restoration Not Strong Enough to Get the Job Done

by Ben Somberg | January 25, 2011
Momentum for Chesapeake Bay restoration has advanced significantly in the past two years, shaped by the combination of President Obama’s Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order and the EPA’s Bay-wide Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process. These federal initiatives, taken in partnership with the Bay states, required the Bay states and the District of Columbia to submit Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) to demonstrate how they will meet the pollution targets in the applicable TMDLs. In August, CPR sent the ...

The BP Oil Spill and the Disappearing Louisiana Coast

by Daniel Farber | January 24, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. In his book Bayou Farewell, Mike Tidwell tells some haunting stories about the rapid disappearance of the Louisiana coast from his time with Cajun fisherman.  Here’s one story: “We all pile into the crab boat and Tim tells his son to head down the bayou. A few hundred feet away . . . Tim points toward a watery stretch of march grass oddly littered with bricks and concrete. “’It’s a cemetery,’ he says. “There, shockingly, along ...

Sunstein: No Additional Agency Funding Expected for Regulatory Look Back

by Ben Somberg | January 19, 2011
In case anyone thought the White House would seek additional appropriations to hire new agency staffers to do the regulatory look back work, it sure sounds like a no. Here's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Cass Sunstein speaking on Federal News Radio: "Agencies are in the best position to make choices about which rules to review and justify whether they need to be modified" he said. "The Executive Order makes clear that the look back process will occur ...

The Problem with Saccharin

by Rena Steinzor | January 18, 2011
President Obama’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning touted EPA’s “deregulation” of the artificial sweetener saccharin as a positive development for America. Inadvertently, the president made EPA look silly for having regulated the stuff in the first place. The use of this example was also unfortunate because EPA’s decision to deregulate had little consequence. Here’s the back story. Beginning in the 1970s, scientists discovered that if you feed large quantities of saccharin to rats, they develop cancer. As a result, products containing ...

President Obama Moves to the Right on Regulation; Appeasing Business Has Real Life Costs

by Rena Steinzor | January 18, 2011
Sixteen months ago, President Obama stood in the well of Congress and issued a ringing call for a progressive vision of government. Working to persuade Members of Congress to adopt health care reform, he said that “large-heartedness…is part of the American character.  Our ability to stand in other people's shoes. A recognition that we are all in this together; that when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand.” Many took comfort from that vision, the ...

The REINS Act: The Latest Conservative Plan to Gum Up the Regulatory Works

by Sidney Shapiro | January 14, 2011
Republican legislators have been scheming for years about ways that they can slow down, if not stop, needed health, safety and environmental regulations. But their latest effort, though creative, is perhaps their most ill-conceived. They’re calling it   “The REINS Act” (in the last Congress, H.R. 3765 sponsored by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), S. 3826 sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)), and, if adopted,  no new "economically significant" regulations would take effect unless affirmatively approved by Congress, by means of a joint congressional resolution of approval, ...

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