Jacob Lew Confirmed as Director of OMB

by Ben Somberg | November 19, 2010

Senator Mary Landrieu released her hold on the nomination of Jacob Lew for Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Senate confirmed Lew by voice vote Thursday evening.

Back when Lew had his confirmation hearings, CPR President Rena Steinzor wrote here about the challenges Lew will face on the regulatory front ("OMB Nominee Jacob Lew, Meet Broken Regulatory State").

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War on Regulation Coming to the States? Why IPI's Plan For Centralized Regulatory Review Isn't What We Need

by Rena Steinzor | November 17, 2010
One of the most powerful sleights of hand achieved by Republicans during the last election cycle was their renewed declaration of war on regulation. It’s no secret which of their interest groups are most passionate about this aspect of their agenda. Tuesday's LATimes previewed a plan by the Chamber of Commerce, to be announced today, to further unleash its lobbying legions against regulations as soon as the new congress is anointed. But it's unlikely the Chamber will get too specific on which popular ...

Welcome Clarity and Few Surprises in EPA's Guidance on Greenhouse Gas Permitting

by Victor Flatt | November 17, 2010
Last week the EPA released its “PSD and Title V Permitting Guidance For Greenhouse Gases.” This Guidance was designed to give the states direction in how to implement permitting requirements for new sources for other criteria pollutants that also produce greenhouse gases on January 2, 2011, and new sources of greenhouse gases following in May, 2011, under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program. The Guidance does an excellent job of summarizing and explaining how the EPA’s current PSD ...

EPA Moves Forward With Numeric Nutrient Criteria for Florida Waters; Plan Will Begin in 15 Months

by Ben Somberg | November 15, 2010
The EPA announced this morning that it has finalized numeric nutrient criteria for Florida waters -- specific limits on the amounts of nutrient pollutants allowed in the state's water bodies. These criteria will in turn limit discharges by point and non-point sources. Currently, nutrient limits are set only by "narrative" water quality standards -- which have little teeth. The EPA agreed last year to set the limits following a consent decree reached after a coalition of environmental groups sued the ...

The Goose, the Gander, and an OIRA Checklist

by James Goodwin | November 11, 2010
Late last month, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) posted on its website a document called Agency Checklist: Regulatory Impact Analysis, which, according to the document, is intended to assist federal regulatory agencies with Executive Order 12866-required cost-benefit analyses (CBAs). Such analyses have become a standard, if fatally flawed, stage in the regulatory process.  Substantively speaking, OIRA’s document contains nothing new or particularly earth-shattering—instead, it is merely a checklist of some of the requirements for CBAs established ...

OSHA's High Hazard Industries – a Look at Some Data

by Matt Shudtz | November 10, 2010
Every year, OSHA mails a letter to about 15,000 employers who run high-hazard worksites, warning them that their most recent annual injury and illness rates were well above average. According to OSHA, For every 100 full-time workers, the 15,000 employers had 4.5 or more injuries or illnesses which resulted in days away from work, restricted work or job transfer. The national average is 2.0. The letters went out in March, but I just got around to digging into the list of ...

CPR White Paper Identifies Hundreds of Toxic Chemicals Insufficiently Studied by EPA

by Lena Pons | November 09, 2010
A new CPR white paper released today evaluates EPA’s performance in improving its database of human health information on toxic substances. The Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) contains “profiles” with bottom-line health effects information for 540 substances; federal regulators, as well as state and local governments and regulated industry itself, rely on the assessments to make decisions in protecting the public from harm. In Corrective Lenses for IRIS: Additional Reforms to Improve EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (press release), CPR found that ...

Measuring Health and Safety Success: By What Yardstick?

by Ben Somberg | November 08, 2010
In a post the other week, Celeste Monforton at The Pump Handle gives a great example of health/safety protection being evaluated the wrong way ("Contractor racks up mine safety violations and unpaid penalties, also wins safety awards.") Monforton points to a large construction company that seems to be collecting safety awards while simultaneously being cited for numerous safety violations (and in January, an employee was killed at a work site). The problem:  Sure, whether workers sustain an injury is something ...

Obama’s Path Forward: Impart a Sense of Urgency to Regulatory Agencies Protecting Health, Safety and the Environment

by Rena Steinzor | November 04, 2010
There’s a lot of punditry left to be committed about whether and how the GOP majority in the House and the enhanced GOP minority in the Senate will work with the Obama Administration. I’m not optimistic. But even if the President and House Republicans are able to find some small patch of common ground, the hard reality that progressives need to swallow is that whatever major progressive legislation will bear Barack Obama’s signature has already become law, at least for ...

CPR Submits Comments to States on Chesapeake Bay Restoration Plans

by Yee Huang | November 04, 2010
Today CPR President Rena Steinzor and I submitted comments to EPA and each Chesapeake Bay Watershed jurisdiction regarding their draft Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans. The states, we find, need to improve their plans significantly. After more than 20 years of haplessly stumbling toward restoration, often in fits and starts, EPA and the Bay jurisdictions—Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia—have finally agreed on a final destination: the Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load). ...

Environmental Regulation, Jobs, and Human Health: Industry Estimates on Boiler Rule Flunk Economics 101

by Catherine O'Neill | November 03, 2010
Economics professors at two major universities just issued their reviews of industry-funded assessments of the costs of EPA’s proposed boiler rule (via NRDC). The professors’ conclusions: “the methodology is fundamentally flawed;” “the resulting estimates of job losses are completely invalid;” “the results reported are useless;” “if I were grading this, I would give it an F.” These strongly-worded indictments should make us sit up and take note.  Professors Charles Kolstad and Jason Shogren were asked to review industry-funded estimates of the costs ...

DC Event -- Regulating from Nowhere: Environmental Law and the Search for Objectivity

by Ben Somberg | November 03, 2010
Tomorrow, Thursday, the American Constitution Society will host a midday panel discussion about the issues and ideas presented in Regulating from Nowhere: Environmental Law and the Search for Objectivity, by CPR Member Scholar Douglas A. Kysar. The panel includes CPR Board Member Amy Sinden. Drawing insight from a diverse array of sources, including moral philosophy, political theory, cognitive psychology, ecology, and science and technology studies, Kysar offers a new theoretical basis for understanding environmental law and policy. He exposes a ...

Cap-and-Trade is Still Alive (In California)

by Alice Kaswan | November 02, 2010
As “Cap-and-Trade Is Dead” continues to echo through the empty halls of Congress, California rolled out its proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade program on Friday. The proposed regulations send a powerful message that, notwithstanding political paralysis at the federal level, the states are proceeding with meaningful climate action. The proposed cap-and-trade program, to be voted on by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) at its December 2010 meeting, is scheduled to take effect in January 2012. At the outset, it will apply ...

In Williamson v. Mazda, SCOTUS Has Chance to Right Preemption Wrongs

by Bill Funk | November 01, 2010
Cross-posted from ACSblog. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on November 3 in a potentially important preemption case, Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America. In Williamson, a child was fatally injured in a collision when she was sitting in the center rear seat of a Mazda van, secured by a lap belt. The two other passengers in the vehicle, both wearing lap-shoulder belts, survived with minor injuries. The young Williamson, however, suffered severe abdominal injuries and internal bleeding because her ...

The Economics of California's Climate Law

by Ben Somberg | October 29, 2010
Over at Grist, CPR Member Scholar Frank Ackerman explains why the economic calculations used by the Yes on 23 campaign in California are rather fishy. ...

Moving Along: Preserving the Great Wildlife Migrations

by Yee Huang | October 28, 2010
On November 7, the National Geographic Channel is premiering Great Migrations, a seven-episode series that chronicles the movements of animals on every continent, from the magnificent monarch butterfly migration from Mexico to northern Canada to the impressive wildebeest migration across the plains of the Serengeti. A report by the United Nations concluded that climate change will impact population sizes, species distribution, the timing of reproduction and migration events, and the increased vulnerability to disease and predation. Compounding these effects are ...

Meet the New BOEMRE, Same as the Old MMS

by Holly Doremus | October 27, 2010
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. The Minerals Management Service within the Department of Interior was responsible for overseeing offshore oil development in federal waters from its creation in 1982 until its demise earlier this year. MMS was always a troubled agency, to put it mildly, dogged by scandals and a revolving door with the industry it regulates. After the Deepwater Horizon incident made its failings obvious, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reorganized MMS out of existence, promising that the new management structure ...

Update: EPA Releases Full FY 2010 Stats on CWA Convictions

by William Andreen | October 26, 2010
Since my post last week ("Convictions for Violations of the Clean Water Act Continue to Ebb"), a number of significant things have occurred. On October 20, the EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, Cynthia Giles, announced that the Director of the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training was retiring and that the Director of the Criminal Investigation Division had decided to pursue new challenges within the agency. In addition to this personnel shake-up, Assistant Administrator Giles has pledged to ...

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