Six Thoughts for an Environmental Law Student Wondering What This All Means

by Dave Owen | November 21, 2016

Editor's note: This post was originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog on November 10. While it was primarily written for environmental law students, it contains wisdom for everyone who cares about our environment and our natural heritage.

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"As a future environmental attorney, I'm confused and angry and sad. And as a human being, I'm equally as confused and angry and sad. A lot of us students are trying to process all of this today."

That was the beginning of an email that one of my students sent me yesterday. I think she speaks for a lot of us. So I thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts, some but not all of them optimistic, about what we face going forward. I should say at the outset that I am writing for the benefit of readers who, like me, think environmental protection is important and that climate change and other environmental problems are all too real.

This is going to be a battle. There have been a few hints of hopeful speculation that perhaps Trump's tense relationship with mainstream Republicans means he won't adopt their traditionally anti-environmental positions. I don't share much of that hope. Election Day revealed that other than a few outlying voices in the wilderness like Mitt Romney, the embrace between Trump and conservative Republicans is a big, warm bear hug. Trump's transition team selections also suggest that he's going to ...

Long-Term Forecast for Bay Restoration: Cloudy with a Chance of Storms

by Evan Isaacson | November 18, 2016
Last week, the Center for Progressive Reform co-hosted a symposium with the University of Maryland School of Law entitled "Halftime for the Bay TMDL." The symposium was supposed to be about what states, cities, counties, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry, and citizens can do to accelerate progress in the second half of the 15-year Chesapeake Bay clean-up effort. However, participants decided that it was equally important to discuss the potentially alarming prospects facing future Bay progress when a ...

The Struggle Ahead

by Matt Shudtz | November 10, 2016
Where do we stand now that the election is over and the presidential transition is beginning? That's a common question these days. Those of us striving in the public interest had come to expect progress, and now that expectation has been dashed. For eight years, President Obama and his team of dedicated public servants did something remarkable. With their deep appreciation and respect for our system of government, they created conditions ripe for a vigorous and uplifting debate about the ...

Florida's Constitutional Amendment 1 Is Anti-Solar Energy

by Joel Mintz | November 08, 2016
Today, Florida residents are voting on a number of items including Constitutional Amendment 1, misleadingly titled "Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice." Although it gives the appearance of promoting solar energy, Amendment 1 is actually a deceptively worded attempt by big, investor-owned utility companies (including FPL and Duke Energy), masquerading under the banner of "Consumers for Smart Solar," to suppress the growth of solar energy in the Sunshine State and maintain the utilities' current monopoly in the state's ...

Ignoring Climate Change Can Be Deadly: State Edition

by Victor Flatt | November 07, 2016
During the U.S. presidential race, much ink has been spilled on how important the election is. But one of the most important issues of all – climate change – has made little appearance in the election discourse, even though it is one of many issues on which the candidates have sharp divisions. But those divisions are not just important at the federal level. Climate change and environmental risk have also been politically divisive at the state level. Many state governments have ...

Hair-Raising Ordeal Draws Attention to Lack of Oversight of Cosmetics, Personal Care Products

by Mollie Rosenzweig | November 01, 2016
Last year, consumers linked Wen hair products to sudden and dramatic hair loss. The story generated a flurry of national coverage and spurred increased interest in just how closely the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates our cosmetic products. Indeed, Wen hair products are not alone in causing dangerous side effects and containing disconcerting ingredients: Consumers have raised alarms over formaldehyde in hair straightening products, mercury in skin creams, and an array of toxic chemicals in children's face paint, including ...

CPR's Heinzerling Calls on Next President to Scrap White House Regulatory Review Process, Start from Scratch

by Brian Gumm | October 31, 2016
Earlier this month, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy published a collection of essays filled with legal and policy recommendations for the next president. Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar Lisa Heinzerling closed out the publication with a piece on improving federal environmental policy, which includes recommendations for how the next president can ensure that the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) stays out of the way.  Under the auspices of a series of executive ...

Untapped Potential: Emissions Reduction Initiatives Beyond Clean Power Plan Are Warranted, Workable

by Alice Kaswan | October 27, 2016
It's been a month since the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments on the Clean Power Plan, and the nation is in wait-and-see mode. But our report, Untapped Potential: The Carbon Reductions Left Out of EPA's Clean Power Plan, released today by the Center for Progressive Reform, shows that, even if the Plan is upheld, continued climate initiatives to control existing power plant emissions are warranted and workable. Our analysis demonstrates that EPA identified numerous available reduction opportunities that were not ...

Climate Change Goes Missing from the Debates

by Matthew Freeman | October 26, 2016
Whatever else may be said about Ken Bone, the red-sweatered citizen questioner at the second presidential debate earned an important place in the pantheon of presidential debates: He's the only person to ask a debate question remotely related to climate change in the last eight years. As it happens, his question wasn't all that direct, since it didn't actually use the words "climate change." Here's what he asked: "What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs, while at the same time ...

Climate Change Threatens Communities with Dangerous Spills and Contamination from Nearby Industrial Facilities

by David Flores | October 18, 2016
To date, climate adaptation and resilience planning efforts on the local, state, and federal levels have largely focused on protecting residential, commercial, and municipal infrastructure from sea level rise and deadly storm surge through such structural practices as shoreline armoring. However, a growing number of advocates are raising concerns about the threat that extreme weather poses to the low-income communities and communities of color that are disproportionately situated near industrial facilities vulnerable to flooding.  Industrial facilities – oil and gas, ...

Assessment Finds Wide Variety in Quality of County Stormwater Plans in Maryland

by Evan Isaacson | October 17, 2016
Today, the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) is releasing an assessment of the plans and progress of Baltimore City and the nine largest counties in Maryland to comply with their federal stormwater permits, a key component of the ongoing effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and restore it to health. The analysis looks carefully at the jurisdictions' past efforts and future plans, revealing a wide range in the apparent commitment and level of restoration activity as they work to ...

Center for Progressive Reform Welcomes New Climate Adaptation Policy Analyst

by Brian Gumm | October 12, 2016
NEWS RELEASE: Center for Progressive Reform Welcomes New Climate Adaptation Policy Analyst Today, the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) announced that David Flores has joined the organization as its new policy analyst. Flores will serve alongside the group's staff and Member Scholars in their efforts to protect public health and the environment, with a particular focus on ways communities and the Chesapeake Bay region can adapt to climate change in a fair, just, inclusive manner.  "I'm excited to welcome David Flores ...

It's Time to Give Customers of Financial Services and Products Their Day in Court

by James Goodwin | October 10, 2016
Originally published by the Oxford Business Law Blog. Reprinted with permission. Forced arbitration clauses are now almost impossible to avoid in consumer contracts for financial services and products ranging from credit cards to private student loans. Despite their ubiquity, most consumers aren't even aware of them. This is because companies frequently bury them deep in the lengthy fine print of their contracts, which they then offer to consumers on a 'take it or leave it' basis. Forced arbitration clauses warrant ...

Representing Workers Injured on the Job – A New York Perspective

by Katie Tracy | October 05, 2016
When it comes to worker health and safety, preventing injuries and illnesses is the number one goal. It was for this very purpose that Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) and tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with setting and enforcing strong workplace standards. But when preventative measures fail and workers are harmed, agency enforcement actions against the employer (while necessary) don't provide legal redress to workers or their families for the damages they've ...

Why SOPRA Is Not the Answer

by Bill Funk | October 03, 2016
Originally posted at Notice & Comment, a blog of the Yale Journal on Regulation and the American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice, as part of an online symposium entitled Reflections on Seminole Rock: The Past, Present, and Future of Deference to Agency Regulatory Interpretations. Reprinted with permission. The Separation of Powers Restoration Act, or more easily known as SOPRA, is not a complicated bill. If enacted, it would amend the Administrative Procedure Act to require courts ...

'Super Polluters' Under the Microscope

by Matthew Freeman | September 30, 2016
In a story published yesterday, the Center for Public Integrity takes a deep dive into the public health impact of the nation’s “super polluters,” a collection of industrial polluters that account for an outsized share of toxic air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Produced in collaboration with USA Today and The Weather Channel, the story focuses in on Evansville, Indiana, a city of 120,000 nestled in the southwest corner of the state and ringed by no ...

Maryland's Environmental and Energy Policy Moving Backward under the Hogan Administration

by Jeremy Baker | September 29, 2016
Larry Hogan promised to be the "best environmental governor that's ever served" in Maryland. But three recent policy developments call that claim into question.  Earlier this year, the Hogan administration vetoed the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would have raised Maryland's renewable energy portfolio standard – the share of electricity that energy providers must derive from renewable sources – from 20 percent by 2022 to 25 percent by 2020. A stronger commitment to renewable energy could have had a tremendous ...

Supreme Court Remains Skeptical of the 'Cost-Benefit State'

by Amy Sinden | September 26, 2016
Originally published on RegBlog by CPR Member Scholar Amy Sinden. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Michigan v. EPA last term, a number of commentators have revived talk of something called the "Cost Benefit State." It is supposed to be a good thing, although it makes some of us shudder. The phrase was originally coined by Cass Sunstein in a 2002 book by that name. It describes a supposedly utopian government in which agencies and courts ...

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