OSHA to Expand Voluntary Protection Programs without Assessing Benefits to Workers

by Katie Tracy | July 21, 2017

On Monday, July 17, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) convened a public meeting to hear input from stakeholders about how the agency might grow and strengthen its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). Given the change in administration, the announcement was no surprise. 

Growing the VPP had also been a priority of the George W. Bush administration, during which time OSHA made plans to add thousands of new participants despite having no evidence the program improved worker health and safety. Resource constraints ultimately tempered OSHA’s expansion plans, but not before the agency had damaged the VPP and eroded its integrity. With this history in mind, I attended this week’s stakeholder meeting to urge the agency to learn from the past and reevaluate the VPP’s performance and cost-effectiveness before it moves to expand it. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) or the Department of Labor (DOL) Inspector General should also perform an independent audit to determine whether the program meets its objectives and is a worthwhile use of taxpayer dollars. 

The VPP is a cooperative program by which OSHA recognizes worksites that have comprehensive safety and health management programs in place and below-average injury rates compared to the rest of their industry. To participate in the VPP, an employer must submit an application to the agency and undergo an initial onsite evaluation. Once approved, OSHA performs a reevaluation every three to five years. In exchange for implementing these ...

Benefits Lost: The Blueprint for the Trump Administration's Assault on Our Safeguards

by James Goodwin | July 20, 2017
Early this morning, the Trump administration released its Spring 2017 Regulatory Agenda, which outlines the regulatory and deregulatory actions the administration expects to take over the next 12 months. Because it is the first of the Trump administration, this document is particularly significant. By comparing it with the last Regulatory Agenda of the Obama administration, which was released in fall of 2016, we are able to see what pending regulatory actions the Trump administration has abandoned or delayed. Only a ...

New Analysis Exposes the Trump Administration's Rulemaking Delays

by Rena Steinzor | July 19, 2017
Early in the Trump administration, news about delayed and "disappeared" rules emerged in several media outlets. Many of these delays were driven by a memo issued by Trump White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on January 20, 2017, which "froze" the implementation of rules until March 21, 2017, so that a representative of the administration could review them. Freezing rules for a limited amount of time is standard practice for newly inaugurated presidents. But the White House and agency ...

Does TSCA Reform Have a Future?

by Katie Tracy | July 17, 2017
June 22 marked the one-year anniversary of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the first major update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since its original enactment in 1976. The measure set a one-year deadline for EPA to complete several actions to implement the law, including finalizing its procedural rules on chemical prioritization and risk evaluation and releasing key documents related to the initial ten chemicals the agency has chosen to evaluate. (See all ...

With Final Forced Arbitration Rule, the CFPB Continues to Advance the Public Interest

by Thomas McGarity | July 13, 2017
Earlier this week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took decisive action to protect hardworking people who are cheated by banks or other financial institutions. Specifically, the federal agency issued a rule limiting what are known as "forced arbitration" agreements in the contracts we must all sign when we open a bank account or purchase certain kinds of financial products and services. Last year, scholars and staff at the Center for Progressive Reform authored a report that supported CFPB's efforts ...

The Unclean Water Rule

by Evan Isaacson | July 13, 2017
This post builds from an interview with the author for WYPR's The Environment in Focus with Tom Pelton, a portion of which aired on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. One question I've been asked a number of times over the last several years is, "What does the Clean Water Rule mean for the Chesapeake Bay?" With EPA's recent proposal to repeal the rule, I'm once again hearing questions and speculation about what this repeal will mean for the Bay watershed. I ...

Trump's EPA Budget Plan Would Harm Many Everyday Americans

by Joel Mintz | July 11, 2017
Imagine that a hostile foreign power covertly manipulated our democracy and government to impose on Florida and other coastal states heightened risks of catastrophic sea level rise and an intensification of hurricanes, floods, droughts, and diseases carried by insects and parasites. Suppose, too, that the same foreign government then set about to demolish the work of American institutions that prevent serious diseases and avoidable deaths to our people. Without doubt, we would regard those acts as threats to our national ...

Trump's 'Small Business' Office Solicits Update for Anti-Safeguards Propaganda

by James Goodwin | July 06, 2017
Late last Thursday, the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Office of Advocacy announced that it was soliciting proposals for "small business research" projects. The solicitation – and particularly the category of topics that the SBA Office of Advocacy has selected for potential research projects – offers one of the first clues on how this obscure but powerful office is likely to operate under the Trump administration.  The SBA Office of Advocacy is a small and unusual office within the federal government ...

Combating Climate Change and Health Risks through a Carbon Fee

by Amro Ali | July 06, 2017
No one is safe from the effects of climate change. That's the key takeaway from a March report by nearly a dozen highly respected medical organizations that studied the link between climate change and risks to our health. And these aren't far-off impacts or theoretical dangers: human-driven climate change is already making people sick. Here's just one example: A woman in southwestern Pennsylvania who had never heard of Lyme disease saw five of her friends contract the illness in recent ...

Murr v. Wisconsin: The 'Whole Parcel' Rule Prevails, At Least in This Regulatory Takings Case

by Robert Glicksman | July 05, 2017
Originally published by the George Washington Law Review How should a court assessing a regulatory takings claim define the "property" allegedly taken to assess the degree of the economic impact the regulation has on it? That question has plagued the Supreme Court for nearly a century, with different and conflicting answers emerging, sometimes in relatively rapid succession. In Murr v. Wisconsin,[1] the Court has provided its most comprehensive answer to the so-called "denominator" question so far, although even the analytical framework ...

No Way to Make a Sausage

by Matthew Freeman | June 29, 2017
As appalling as the first five months of the Trump presidency have been to those of us who care about public policy and good government, we can't claim to be surprised. As Hillary Clinton memorably explained to historians last summer in Philadelphia, "There is no other Donald Trump. This is it." But what has been a surprise is how bad this Congress has been at legislating. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are hardly newbies to the Washington scene or the ...

The Most Important Revolving Door You've Never Heard Of

by James Goodwin | June 29, 2017
Earlier this week, Axios and Greenwire ($) reported that international oil behemoth BP is bringing on a new lobbyist to work on "[r]egulatory reform advocacy related to Federal energy and environmental rules," as described in the required lobbying disclosure statement. That in itself is hardly news. What makes this story remarkable is who the lobbyist is, or in this case, was. Nathan Frey, who appears to be the only partner with the lobbying firm Regulatory Strategies and Solutions Group, used ...

Repeal First, Explain Later: The Trump Administration and the Clean Water Rule

by Dave Owen | June 28, 2017
Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog by CPR Member Scholar Dave Owen. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers just released a proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule and to return to previous regulations. The Clean Water Rule (also known as the WOTUS Rule) would have clarified the scope of federal regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. It was one of the Obama administration's signature environmental initiatives, and it was one of candidate and then President Trump's signature targets. So the ...

Partner Spotlight: A Conversation with Center for Progressive Reform's Evan Isaacson

by Kerry Darragh | June 27, 2017
This post originally appeared on the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition's website.  All month long, MCAC has been highlighting the Bay cleanup plan, also known as the Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load), in order to keep track of the progress that is, or isn't, happening within the Bay watershed to reduce pollution. We recently chatted with Evan Isaacson, policy analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform, about tracking the progress of the Bay TMDL, what more states should be doing ...

The Message Congress Needs to Hear As It Debates Our Water Infrastructure Needs

by Evan Isaacson | June 22, 2017
Last fall, the Senate directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to contract with the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to conduct an independent study on affordability of municipal investments in water infrastructure. As someone who spent several years within the halls of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, I was honored to contribute to NAPA's research efforts by responding to a survey with suggestions for public administrators and communities struggling to meet the challenges ...

New Report: With Assault on Safeguards, Trump Trounces Constitution, U.S. History

by James Goodwin | June 21, 2017
Today, Neomi Rao is likely to take one step closer to becoming the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) – that is, the Trump administration's "regulatory czar" – with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee expected to favorably report her nomination to the Senate floor for a final confirmation vote.  As detailed in an April 2017 CPR report on her nomination, Rao would arrive at her new position with little substantive expertise related to ...

CPR Scholar Op-Eds Hit Assault on Our Safeguards from Trump and Congress

by Matthew Freeman | June 19, 2017
Four recent op-eds by CPR Member Scholars underscore the scope and danger of the current assault on our safeguards now being mounted by the president and the congressional leadership. Highlights of the most recent pieces follow, but you can always browse through all of this year’s published pieces from our scholars and staff on our website. On May 17, Alyson Flournoy and Mary Jane Angelo, colleagues at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, co-authored “Without Public Protections, Florida ...

New York Times Op-ed: Regulatory 'Reform' That Is Anything But

by William Buzbee | June 15, 2017
This op-ed originally ran in The New York Times. After decades of failed efforts to enact "regulatory reform" bills, Congress appears to be within a few votes of approving reform legislation that would strip Americans of important legal protections, induce regulatory sclerosis and subject agencies that enforce the nation's laws and regulations to potentially endless litigation. This is not reform. These bills would sabotage agency regulation with legislative monkey wrenches. Key compromises about agency power and procedures, worked out under ...
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