CRE's Proposed Interactive Public Dockets—Tilting the Regulatory Process Further in Industry's Favor

by James Goodwin | October 08, 2010

Back in the 1970s, when many of the great environmental, health, and safety statutes were adopted, public interest groups shared an overwhelming optimism that greater public participation held the key to maintaining—and even expanding upon—their successes. All they needed was a seat at the  table where decisions are made, and their ideas would ultimately prevail. At first, they were right—public interest groups were able to advance their cause through participation in the regulatory process. But before long, regulated industry discovered that they could beat public interest groups at their own game by using their superior resources. The number of “public input” tables grew, and each increasingly became filled with more and more industry groups, while the seats for public interest groups often go empty.  If the public interest groups are able to be present, they are often drowned out.

Once a dream, public participation in the regulatory process has too often become a nightmare for public interest groups. A number of different studies of the regulatory system confirm the extent to which regulated industry is dominating participation in the regulatory process, including for rules aimed at environmental, health, and safety issues. A 2006 study of 40 rules promulgated by four agencies (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Employment Standards Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Highway Administration) issued between 1994 and 2001 found that of the total number of comments, business interest filed 57 percent, governmental interests filed 19 percent, and non-business, ...

Farber LAT Op-Ed on California Climate Law

by Ben Somberg | October 04, 2010
CPR Member Scholar Daniel Farber and Richard Frank, both of BerkeleyLaw, have an op-ed in the LA Times today on Proposition 23, the ballot initiative that would suspsend California's climate law, AB 32. They argue: For California to retreat on the climate issue now would send a defeatist message nationally and worldwide. It's true that other climate measures would remain on the books, but suspending AB 32 would be like benching a football team's quarterback while leaving the other players ...

US OSHA Reviews State Plans

by Ben Somberg | October 01, 2010
Over at The Pump Handle, Celeste Monforton looks at federal OSHA's review, issued this week, of the state worker safety programs. ...

New CPR Study Chronicles Series of Regulatory Failures that Produced BP Oil Spill

by Ben Somberg | September 30, 2010
A new CPR white paper today argues that the BP oil spill and its attendant environmental and economic harm were entirely preventable, and indeed, would have been avoided had government regulators over the years been pushed and empowered by determined leadership and given sufficient resources to enforce the law. The paper, Regulatory Blowout: How Regulatory Failures Made the BP Disaster Possible, and How the System Can Be Fixed to Avoid a Recurrence (press release), examines the performance of multiple regulatory agencies, ...

Sen. Landrieu's Counterproductive Hold on the Lew Nomination

by Lena Pons | September 29, 2010
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) currently has a hold on Jacob Lew’s confirmation to become the next director of the Office of Management and Budget, and says she won't release it until the Obama Administration ends the moratorium on deepwater oil and gas drilling. She said that while Lew “clearly possesses the expertise necessary to serve…he lacks sufficient concern for the host of economic challenges confronting the Gulf Coast.” Sen. Landrieu seems to be ignoring the impacts of too hastily allowing ...

Obama's Reg Czar Feigns Transparency, Worker Safety Rules in Crosshairs

by Celeste Monforton | September 28, 2010
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. Is anybody else getting tired of hearing Obama Administration officials say "sunlight is the best disinfectant?" It was uttered again on Thursday (9/23) when the President's regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, was speaking at an event hosted by the Small Business Administration. His speech was loaded with all the transparency catch terms: "disclosure," "openness," "sunshine," "open government," "accountability," blah, blah, blah. The rhetoric was annoying to read because I'd been wrestling that week with OIRA's lack ...

The Chesapeake Bay Program

by Matthew Freeman | September 27, 2010
In a CPRBlog post on Friday, 9/24, we inadvertantly referred to the Chesapeake Bay Program as the Chesapeake Bay Commission.  The Program is a regional partnership of states and the District of Columbia working together to restore the Bay.  The Commission is a group of 21 elected officials, appointees and citizen representatives conducting research, policymaking and consensus-building on Bay issues. There's a big difference between the two entitites, their methods, and their work.  It was a simple mistake, but not ...

Bad Times for Good Government

by Douglas Kysar | September 27, 2010
This post looks at two recent books by CPR Member Scholars in the context of the BP disaster and other recent regulatory failures: The People’s Agents and the Battle to Protect the American Public, by Rena Steinzor and Sidney Shapiro Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World, by Robert R. M. Verchick Does the BP oil spill signify the need for an entirely new conception of the administrative state, one reformulated to meet the global, complex, uncertain, and potentially ...

EPA Delivers on TMDL, Raps Chesapeake Bay States

by Rena Steinzor | September 24, 2010
As expected, the Environmental Protect Agency issued its draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay this afternoon – essentially a cap on total pollution in the Bay, as well as caps on each of 92 separate segments of the Bay. EPA also issued assessments of each of the affected states’ Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs), evaluating proposals for implementing the TMDL from Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. As I said in ...

Rescuing the Chesapeake by Anchoring the Goal Posts and Making Rules for the Game

by Rena Steinzor | September 24, 2010
With more than 7,000 miles of coastline and thousands of stream and river miles and lake acres, the Chesapeake Bay is the crown jewel of the region’s natural resource heritage. And its value to the region's economy is immense--$1 trillion according to one frequently cited estimate.  But the ecological health of the Bay is tenuous.  Primary pollutants are nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment. These nutrients have accumulated in the Bay to unsustainable levels, contributing to algal blooms and dead zones during the ...

Obligatory Lomborg Post

by Ben Somberg | September 24, 2010
Over at Grist, CPR Member Scholar Frank Ackerman and The Lomborg Deception author Howard Friel debunk Bjorn Lomborg's new tack in their piece "Bjorn Lomborg: same skeptic, different day." ...

Chesapeake Bay Announcement Coming Tomorrow

by Ben Somberg | September 23, 2010
Two items of note tomorrow in the Chesapeake Bay realm: The EPA will publish the draft Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) – a cap on the total water pollution that can be discharged into the Bay. The TMDL will be open for public comment until November 8, 2010. The states (and DC) in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will open their draft Watershed Implementation Plans to public comment, also until November 8, 2010. We’ll be keeping an eye on ...

MSHA Issues Emergency Rule to Prevent Coal Dust Explosions

by Celeste Monforton | September 22, 2010
Cross posted from The Pump Handle. MSHA announced Tuesday that it will be issuing on September 23 an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to improve a practice to prevent coal dust explosions. The rule addresses "rock dusting"--the decades old practice of generously applying pulverized limestone dust throughout a coal mine to dilute the potential power of a coal dust explosion. As NIOSH's Man and Teacoach explain: "...the rock dust disperses, mixes with the coal dust and prevents flame propagation by acting ...

NYT Checks in on Drywall Situation, Finds Mess

by Ben Somberg | September 20, 2010
The toxic drywall issue has been relatively quiet in the press for some time now. Some guy in Manatee County FL looks to be trying to flip a few contaminated houses (unclear how much he's repairing them). Habitat for Humanity had a drywall problem in New Orleans. No real big announcements from CPSC of late. The Times came back to the drywall issue on Saturday, though, and found that the situation remains fairly bleak for many affected homeowners: But so ...

OMB Nominee Jacob Lew, Meet Broken Regulatory State

by Rena Steinzor | September 16, 2010
Today Jacob Lew heads to the hill for two Senate hearings on his nomination to be the new director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget. He is expected to be confirmed. The hearings will likely focus on budgetary issues, but no less important is another division of OMB: the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the office charged with coordinating regulatory policy. The policy context is this: from salmonella-laced eggs to the BP oil spill, we ...

A Vigorous Global Response To a Systemic Issue (Why is Climate Change so Different?)

by Daniel Farber | September 15, 2010
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Imagine a problem: it’s global; it stems from an extremely complex, interconnected system; it has major economic implications.  Sounds like climate change, or in other words, like the kind of problem that the world can’t seem to address effectively.  But no, it’s not Global Climate Change, it’s Global Economic Change.  And the world seems to be coalescing without much fuss around major regulatory initiatives. From the NY Times, a story about how the major governments came ...

BP Disaster Shows Challenges in Federal Decision-Making Structure on Safety Policies for Cleanup Workers, CPR Report Says

by Ben Somberg | September 14, 2010
Today CPR releases a new white paper, From Ship to Shore: Reforming the National Contingency Plan to Improve Protections for Oil Spill Cleanup Workers (press release), a look at how decisions were made about safety protections for cleanup workers in the aftermath of the BP oil spill -- and the lessons for the future. The federal government's pre-disaster planning on worker safety issues didn't adequately consult the safety experts, and that meant the decision-making in the immediate wake of the ...

Scientific Uncertainty About BPA Is the Inevitable Result of a Broken TSCA

by Matt Shudtz | September 08, 2010
In Tuesday's New York Times story, “In a Feast of Data on BPA Plastic, No Final Answer,” Denise Grady characterizes the continued development of new studies about the endocrine disrupting chemical as yet another dispute between environmentalists and chemical manufacturers over a ubiquitous chemical with uncertain health effects. While her assessment of the state of the science is accurate, she expends thousands of words parsing the uncertainty and profiling the scientists who’ve made it their work to reduce the uncertainty without ...
Recommended Resources:
Clean Energy
Renewable Energy Instead of Fossil Fuels

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