50 OIRAs? Another State (New Jersey) Drinks the Regulatory Review Kool-Aid

by James Goodwin | March 29, 2010

It’s official: Centralized regulatory review is trickling down to the states. Last month, in one of his very first actions as the newly elected Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie issued a pair of sweeping executive orders (no. 1 and no. 2) mandating centralized review of all state agency regulations to ensure that they are justified by cost-benefit analysis (CBA). The orders’ provisions mirror those of a controversial executive order issued by New York Governor David Paterson last August (for critiques of the Paterson order, see Rebecca Bratspies and Sidney Shapiro). New York and New Jersey join a growing number of states that employ some form of centralized regulatory review—a group that includes Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Will more states follow New York and now New Jersey by instituting their own version of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)?

Executive Order no. 1 creates the “Red Tape Review Group” and directs it to oversee “a new common sense approach to the adoption and promulgation of administrative rules and regulations.” The Order also suspends all proposed regulations for 90 days so that the Red Tape Review Group can review them. Executive Order no. 2 directs state agencies to review existing regulations to determine whether, among other things, they pass a CBA test. Though it's not completely clear (the orders are hardly sterling examples of quality legal draftsmanship), it appears ...

EPA Proposes to Veto Mountaintop Removal Project

by Holly Doremus | March 26, 2010
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. EPA’s seesaw on mountaintop removal mining continues. Last time I wrote about this topic it was to note EPA’s approval of the Hobet 45 project. Today, EPA announced that it is proposing to veto the Spruce No. 1 project, as it had threatened last fall. Should EPA follow through on its proposal, this would be its first veto of a Clean Water Act section 404 permit since 1990. Publication of the proposal in the Federal Register ...

If Not at Yucca Mountain, then Where?

by Holly Doremus | March 26, 2010
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Last August, Dan announced “The Death of Yucca Mountain,” pointing to a news story in which Senator Harry Reid ( D – Nev.) declared that he had dealt a fatal blow to plans to store high-level radioactive waste in a repository there. The Department of Energy sought to pull the plug on the project once and for all early this month, when it filed a motion to withdraw its application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for ...

New Health and Safety Journalism Publication Launches Today

by James Goodwin | March 24, 2010
Today, FairWarning—a new non-profit online news journal focusing on stories involving worker and consumer protection issues—went live. On its first day, the site offered dozens of short news stories along with three longer investigative pieces. FairWarning says its mission is “to arm consumers and workers with valuable information, and to spotlight reckless business practices and lax oversight by government agencies.” The organization says that the mainstream media is no longer able to play this “watchdog” role effectively due to shrinking ...

Incorporating the Best of Cantwell-Collins into KGL: Don't Forget the Missing Instrument

by David Driesen | March 24, 2010
Last week, Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman (KGL) reportedly released an 8-page outline for a bill mitigating climate disruption that they are crafting in order to try to break the deadlock that has heretofore blocked legislation in the Senate. ClimateWire reported that the KGL bill would incorporate ideas from the bill introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D. Wash.) and Susan Collins (R. Maine), the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act. That incorporation might be a good thing, ...

Republicans Senators Target Fee Recoveries in Public Interest Suits Against Federal Agencies

by Dan Rohlf | March 23, 2010
A small group of Senate Republicans – most from conservative western states – have introduced a bill (available via E&E, subs. required) that would require the federal government to annually disclose a list of attorney fee awards it has given to allow public interest plaintiffs to recover expenses when they have successfully challenged decisions of federal agencies. Introduction of the bills was prodded by allegations from Karen Budd-Falen, a Wyoming-based attorney whose firm represents a variety of resource user groups, ...

A Tale of Two Countries: Lessons from Australia for Water Law in the United States?

by Yee Huang | March 22, 2010
This post is the first in a monthly series on topics of international environmental law and environmental laws in other countries. Today’s post looks at the evolution of Australia’s water laws. Australia is one of the driest continents on the planet, making the country a necessary laboratory for innovative approaches to water management and governance. Australia is characterized by a sparsely populated, semi-arid interior that is dominated by agriculture and the relatively water-abundant coastal edges that are home to the ...

Congress Considers Higher OSHA Penalties (Again)

by Sidney Shapiro | March 19, 2010
The Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the Protecting America’s Workers Act of 2009, legislation that would, among other reforms, modernize workplace health and safety penalties. More than a decade ago, I testified at a similar hearing in the House of Representatives on the same subject. The need for stronger OSHA penalties was apparent then, and it is no less apparent today. The hearing is memorable to me because I testified ...

McGarity Op-ed in Austin American-Statesman Critiques TCEQ Water Proposal

by Ben Somberg | March 19, 2010
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has recently proposed to weaken water quality standards in the state. As the Austin American-Statesman reported earlier this week,  The proposal would draw new categories for Texas' waterways, basing regulations on how much humans have contact with them. And it would raise the amount of allowable bacteria in the waterways before they are considered impaired, requiring local and state authorities to monitor and clean them. Today CPR Member Scholar Thomas McGarity has an op-ed ...

Climate Change Adaptation Progress: Administration Releases Interim Report on Strategy for a Strategy

by Shana Campbell Jones | March 18, 2010
Tuesday, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released an Interim Progress Report of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, a group charged by President Obama in Executive Order 13514 to develop (by Fall 2010) recommendations for the federal government for adapting to climate change. More than 20 federal agencies, departments, and offices are participating in the task force. The ...

Trading Up: A National Model for Stormwater Pollution Trading?

by Yee Huang | March 17, 2010
This week Water Policy Report (subs. required) reported on EPA’s exercise of residual designation authority (RDA) over stormwater discharges and a pilot stormwater-reduction trading program in Massachusetts. Together, these actions have the potential to significantly reduce stormwater discharges into local waterways. If successful, this pilot trading program could be a template for similar trading programs in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and across the country. Stormwater discharges occur when impervious surfaces such as roads, rooftops, and parking lots channel high volumes ...

Congressional Hearings Today

by Ben Somberg | March 16, 2010
A few congressional hearings today we're keeping an eye on: Catch Shares. The House Natural Resources' Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife will discuss "catch shares" as a fisheries management policy. Previously, CPR Member Scholar Rebecca Bratspies discussed the limitations of catch shares, and in December applauded NOAA for moving forward cautiously. Protecting America's Workers Act. The House Education and Labor's Workforce Protection Subcommittee will discuss HR 2067, which would amend the OSH Act to protect more workers and increase ...

Did California Prius Driver Press the Brake Pedal Hard? WSJ Says No; Congressional Memo Says Yes

by Ben Somberg | March 15, 2010
The Wall Street Journal had what seemed like a major scoop over the weekend: A federal safety investigation of the Toyota Prius that was involved in a dramatic incident on a California highway last week found a particular pattern of wear on the car's brakes that raises questions about the driver's version of the event, three people familiar with the investigation said. ... During and after the incident, Mr. Sikes said he was using heavy pressure on his brake pedal ...

Drywall Trial Begins Today in New Orleans

by Ben Somberg | March 15, 2010
A year after the contaminated drywall story went big, a "test trial" over damages from the material begins today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The court has posted documents regarding the case here, and outlets covering the case include the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Bradenton Herald, and Palm Beach Post. ...

Settlement Marks a Step Forward on Ocean Acidification

by Holly Doremus | March 15, 2010
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. As Cara and Dan have explained, ocean acidification is the other big climate change problem. As atmospheric CO2 levels rise, more CO2 dissolves in the oceans. That in turn increases ocean acidity, which changes the ecology of the seas, most obviously by reducing the ability of corals and a variety of other marine organisms to build their “skeletons” and protective shells from calcium carbonate. Ocean acidification is a pollution problem, just as acid rain and climate ...

A Year Later, What’s Happening with the Scientific Integrity Memo?

by Ben Somberg | March 12, 2010
This item, by Liz Borkowski, is cross-posted from The Pump Handle. Exactly one year ago, President Obama issued a memorandum on scientific integrity that gave the Office of Science and Technology Policy 120 days to “develop recommendations for Presidential action designed to guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch” based on six principles that Obama specified. OSTP solicited public input to inform its drafting of the recommendations. It’s now been 365 days, and OSTP hasn’t released its recommendations. Why the ...

Eye on OIRA: Sunstein Says Ambitious Efforts to Revamp Regulatory Review Tabled for the Time Being. What Does It Mean? Not Much. Just Ask Oscar the Grouch.

by Rena Steinzor | March 12, 2010
In a rare public appearance at the Brookings Institute Wednesday, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator Cass Sunstein is quoted by BNA’s Daily Report for Executives saying that his ambitious plans for revamping Executive Order 12,866 – the document that governs much of the process of regulating, and particularly OIRA’s role in it –have been tabled for the time being as he and his staff study the lengthy comments presented by a broad range of industry and public ...

Conservation Deal Just a Sugar Fix?

by Holly Doremus | March 10, 2010
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. When government decides that private economic activity needs to be restricted in order to preserve some part of nature, there are two basic ways to get that result — by demanding cooperation through regulation or by buying it through economic incentives or outright purchase. The second approach is often politically easier, but environmentalists have long been skeptical of relying too heavily on it.  Two major concerns have repeatedly been expressed. First, paying for conservation suffers from ...

A Final 2017 Dose of Op-Eds

Freeman | Dec 28, 2017 | Regulatory Policy

The Off-Switch Is Inside the Fenceline

Farber | Dec 27, 2017 | Energy

Steinzor: Trump's reform won't stop mass incarceration

Freeman | Dec 21, 2017 | Good Government

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