We'll be Blogging from Copenhagen

by Ben Somberg | December 04, 2009

CPR Member Scholars Victor Flatt and David Hunter, along with several guest contributors, will be writing for CPRBlog from the climate talks in Copenhagen. Stay tuned.

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EPA and NHTSA Lowball Estimates of Carbon Costs in Proposed Tailpipe Emissions Standard

by Frank Ackerman | December 04, 2009
Once upon a time, EPA and other agencies labored under the yoke of a cruel regime that was contemptuous of the “reality-based community,” but intimately aware of the needs and desires of the energy industry. Climate policy didn’t really happen in those days. Then the world changed. In the first year of the new regime, EPA and NHTSA proposed a standard for tailpipe emissions, including an estimate of the “social cost of carbon,” or the value of the incremental damages ...

Sunstein Watch: Randall Lutter on Loan, Says OMB -- Yet WashPost Reports He's Actively Involved

by Rena Steinzor | December 03, 2009
As reporters dug deeper on our post yesterday about the return of Randy Lutter, chief economist at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the George W. Bush Administration, to “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein’s office, OMB spokesman Tom Gavin worked to downplay the significance of Lutter’s reappearance. Gavin confirmed that Lutter was in fact ensconced in OIRA, as reported by Inside EPA this morning, but said he was merely “on detail” from the FDA as a career civil servant who ...

Sunstein Watch: Randall Lutter to OIRA?

by Rena Steinzor | December 02, 2009
For a number of days now, we’ve been hearing rumors that Cass Sunstein, President Obama’s “regulatory czar,” was on the verge of hiring conservative economist Randall Lutter to join him at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Few personnel developments could be more discouraging to those hopeful that the Obama Administration will fulfill its many commitments to revitalize the agencies responsible for protecting public health, worker safety, and natural resources. The best thing that can be said about ...

NPDES Permits on Impaired Waterways

by Holly Doremus | December 02, 2009
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Precisely what the Clean Water Act requires of point sources that discharge to already-polluted waterways has long been a point of confusion. Now, according to Inside EPA, EPA may revise the rules it applies to new permits on impaired waterways. A rulemaking seems far from certain at this point — the story quotes an EPA spokesperson as saying the agency is “considering the possibility” — but if EPA does launch one it should make sure that ...

FDA Needs More Time for its Report on BPA

by Matt Shudtz | December 01, 2009
Yesterday came and went with no announcement from the FDA on the safety of BPA in food packaging. The agency had created a self-imposed November 30 deadline for releasing a new finding, and in the intervening months, a number of new studies on the health effects of BPA have been released and FDA has brought in an outside expert to head up the review. These developments have understandably slowed the review process. The question before FDA is whether BPA is ...

The Florida Beach Case Comes to Supreme Court: A Badly Flawed Test Case for Property Rights Advocates

by John Echeverria | November 30, 2009
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection. By the time they finish hearing from both sides, the justices may wonder whether this case was worth their time and effort. (My amicus brief on the case is here). Petitioner is a small non-profit organization whose members own coastal properties in two communities along the Florida panhandle. Petitioner’s primary argument is that its members suffered “takings” of their ...

Toyota Cars and Automobile Regulation, Still Defective: Recall Could Miss a Million Faulty Cars. Congress Should Investigate.

by Sidney Shapiro | November 25, 2009
This morning, Toyota Motor Corporation announced it intends to replace accelerator pedals on about 3.8 million recalled vehicles in the United States because the pedals can get stuck in a floor mat. But the recall could still leave more than a million faulty cars on the road. As I wrote earlier, there had been over 2,000 reports from the owners of Toyota cars that they have surged forward without warning reaching speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. NHTSA ...

OIRA Must Be Having a Doorbuster Sale of Its Own

by James Goodwin | November 25, 2009
Perhaps caught up in the spirit of the holiday shopping season, a large number of industry bargain hunters have been busy seeking great deals on regulatory relief at the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in recent weeks. To be precise, the bureau hosted no fewer than 11 meetings with corporate interests regarding seven different regulatory issues between November 4 and November 16. The meetings covered a range of topics. One meeting saw representatives of Shell Oil ...

Yes, Senator Cardin's Chesapeake Bay Bill Is Grounded in Constitutional Law

by Yee Huang | November 24, 2009
On Monday, CPR Member Scholars and others sent a memorandum to Senator Ben Cardin that addressed the constitutionality of S. 1816, the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009. At a Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife hearing earlier this month, one witness contested the key provisions of S. 1816, asserting that they are unconstitutional with respect to the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The memo, signed by CPR Member Scholars Robert Adler, William Andreen, ...

What We'll Look For in the Obama Administration's Forthcoming Executive Order on Regulatory Process

by Ben Somberg | November 23, 2009
The Obama Administration is expected to issue revisions to Executive Order 12,866, which specifies how the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) supervises federal regulatory agencies as they develop regulations to protect health, safety, the environment, and more (see the full comments on the matter submitted by CPR's board members in March). CPR President Rena Steinzor and Board Member Rob Glicksman have issued a backgrounder on the coming Executive Order -- explaining the context and setting out six ...

Is It Time To Depoliticize EPA's Regional Administrators?

by Joel Mintz | November 20, 2009
As it nears the close of its first year in office, the Obama Administration has thus far failed to name half of the regional administrators for its ten regional offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and it was only on November 5th that it named those five officials. The reason for the lengthy delay in making appointments to these posts is not immediately apparent. Perhaps the Administration is anxious to avoid stirring up any political controversies regarding particular ...

Administration's Announcement on Mountaintop Removal Mining -- In Perspective

by Ben Somberg | November 19, 2009
"Interior increases oversight of mountaintop mining" trumpets the AP, and "U.S. boosts coal mining oversight to fight pollution" says Reuters. That's in response to an announcement from Interior on Wednesday. But on Coal Tattoo, and from NRDC and Sierra Club, one learns of a pretty different story. Says NRDC's Rob Perks: Why in the world would I have a problem with this? As I previously posted on the apparent "slow-walk" on this issue by the Interior Department, Interior Secretary Ken ...

Sunstein Watch: OMB Says it Will Leave EDSP to the EPA Experts

by Rena Steinzor | November 19, 2009
On Monday, OMB Director Peter Orszag sent a letter to Rep. Ed Markey, responding to Congressman Markey’s concerns about OMB’s involvement in EPA’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. Orszag’s letter -- released by Markey's office Wednesday -- explains, in no uncertain terms, that OMB is done meddling in EPA’s scientific determinations about endocrine-disrupting chemicals. It’s a step in the right direction for Orszag and OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein, who have their work cut out for them if they are going to ...

Update: Judge Approves Settlement on Numeric Nutrient Criteria for Florida

by Yee Huang | November 18, 2009
A few months ago, I wrote about a landmark agreement by the EPA to set numeric, statewide nutrient pollution limits  -- the first of its kind in the United States. Florida, like most states, has qualitative nutrient pollution limits, which are written in terms such as, “in no case shall nutrient concentrations of body of water be altered so as to cause an imbalance in natural populations of flora or fauna.” Terms like this are difficult to measure objectively and ...

The Importance of Being Earnest: Nutrient Trading in the Chesapeake Bay

by Yee Huang | November 13, 2009
In October, Senator Ben Cardin (D.-Md.) introduced the “Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 2009,” signaling the beginning of a new era of federal commitment to Bay restoration. The legislation is a tremendous step in the right direction, and it includes many elements to help make the Bay Program and the Bay-wide Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) models for watersheds across the country. In addition to the inclusion of mandatory implementation plans and enforceable deadlines, the legislation also establishes a ...

Defective: Toyota Cars and Automobile Regulation

by Sidney Shapiro | November 12, 2009
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently chastised the Toyota Motor Company for claiming that no defect existed in its cars, even while recalling 3.8 million of them. Toyota instituted the recall one month after a Lexus sedan suddenly accelerated out of control killing four people near San Diego. When Toyota blamed the problem on improperly installed floor mats, NHTSA said it expected the company to provide a “suitable vehicle solution.” The company then said that it was working on “vehicle-based remedies” ...

Brown Pelican Dis-Endangered

by Holly Doremus | November 12, 2009
This posting is reprinted, by permission from Legal Planet. The Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday announced some very good news — the brown pelican will soon be removed from the list of endangered and threatened species. This enormous fish-eating bird has been protected since 1970, when it was included on the very first list of US endangered species under a predecessor to the current Endangered Species Act. Its population rebounded after DDT was banned in 1972. By 1985, the pelican ...
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