CPR's Shapiro Testifies in Congress on 'Agency Capture' by Industry

by Ben Somberg | August 03, 2010

The Minerals Managements Service's coziness with an industry it was supposed to be monitoring has brought attention back to an all-too-pervasive problem: regulatory agencies becoming "captured" by the regulated industries.

This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts is holding a hearing on “Protecting the Public Interest: Understanding the Threat of Agency Capture.” CPR Member Scholar Sidney Shapiro is testifying about the nature and extent of agency capture, and what Congress can do about it. (There's also a news release.)

Shapiro says there are three preliminary types of capture:

  • Political Capture occurs when an agency fails to protect the public and the environment because regulators friendly to industry block regulatory efforts or do not enforce the laws and regulations then in effect.
  • Representational Capture occurs when industry representatives regularly appear before an agency, offering detailed comments and criticisms, while the agency seldom, if ever, hears from public interest groups or members of the public. Empirical studies have repeatedly shown that this imbalance is significant.
  • Sabotage Capture occurs when regulatory critics create roadblocks that slow or prevent regulation even in future administrations that seek to protect the public and the environment. This type of capture is more subtle and difficult for the public to perceive, and is most prominently exhibited today as the defunding of the regulatory agencies and the politicization of rulemaking by the White House. 

 Shapiro presents four recommendations for Congress:

...

State Coal Ash Regulation at Work

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EPA's New Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice in Rulemaking a Welcome First Step

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Auto Safety Bill Takes Some Bruises in the Senate; Automakers Try for More

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Using Disclosure as a Smokescreen: How Behavioral Economics Can Deflect Regulation

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At Thirty Five, Endangered Species Treaty Has Mixed Record

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Big Chicken Loses Round One in Groundbreaking Water Pollution Case

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Thanks to a strong ruling from a federal judge in Baltimore Wednesday, large poultry companies are one step closer to being held accountable for the pollution (manure) the small farms that grow chickens for them generate. Responsibility: it’s not just for the little guys anymore. In March, several environmental groups in Maryland sued Perdue Farms, Inc. and Hudson Farm, a chicken farm that raises Perdue’s chickens, alleging violations of the Clean Water Act. (I blogged earlier about the political brouhaha ...

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Utilities-Only Carbon Cap

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Some Toyota Context

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OIRA's Fuzzy Math on Coal Ash: A Billion Here, a Billion There

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Interior Hits the Pause Button Again

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