Waxman-Markey: Environmental Justice

by Alice Kaswan | April 02, 2009

On Tuesday, March 31, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) released a "discussion draft" of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 – a climate change bill that will serve as the starting point for long-delayed congressional action on the world’s most pressing environmental program. CPRBlog asked several Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholars to examine different aspects of the 648-page Waxman-Markey bill. This entry, by Alice Kaswan, examines the bill’s implications for environmental justice issues. 

Climate change legislation is obviously essential to protecting the planet from catastrophic global warming. But that’s not all it can do. The fundamental changes in our energy infrastructure that lie ahead provide the opportunity to achieve unfinished business. Climate legislation could not only allow us to achieve greater energy security, as the bill’s name suggests, it could also present the opportunity to clean the nation’s air.

While carbon dioxide does not pose local hazards, it is inevitably accompanied by co-pollutants – pollutants that are not greenhouse gases but that are also generated by burning fossil fuels, and that go up ...

Waxman-Markey: Renewables, Transportation, and EPA and State Regulation

by Alice Kaswan | April 02, 2009
On Tuesday, March 31, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) released a “discussion draft” of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 – a climate change bill that will serve as the starting point for long-delayed congressional action on the world’s most pressing environmental program. CPRBlog asked several Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholars to examine different aspects of the 648-page Waxman-Markey bill. This entry, by Alice Kaswan, examines several ...

Waxman-Markey: CPR Member Scholars Weigh In

by Matthew Freeman | April 02, 2009
On Tuesday, March 31, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) released a “discussion draft” of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 – a climate change bill that will serve as the starting point for long-delayed congressional action on the world’s most pressing environmental program. CPRBlog asked several Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholars to examine different aspects of the 648-page Waxman-Markey bill. Their detailed responses are posted individually on ...

CPR Urges Secretaries of Interior and Commerce to Withdraw Bush Endangered Species Regulations

by Margaret Clune Giblin | April 01, 2009
CPR Member Scholar Holly Doremus, joined by Member Scholars Rob Glicksman (also a CPR Board Member), Alex Camacho, and Dan Rohlf, along with myself, today sent the Secretaries of the Departments of Commerce and Interior a letter urging them to utilize the time-limited authority that Congress gave them to withdraw one of the more controversial midnight regulations issued by the Bush Administration.  Those regulations undercut one of the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) most important protections—a requirement that federal agencies consult ...

What Will the Entergy Ruling Bring?

by Amy Sinden | April 01, 2009
The Supreme Court today upheld a decision from the Bush administration's EPA that was good for industry and bad for the environmental health of our rivers and estuaries (my brief press statement on the case, Entergy v. EPA, is here; the court's decision is here).  But the majority opinion by Justice Scalia was written narrowly in a way that gives the Obama administration the leeway to approach these kinds of decisions in a more productive way.  I'm hopeful they will ...

Still Your Grandma's Cost-Benefit Analysis: Well-meaning Effort by Resources for the Future Falls Short of the Mark

by Rena Steinzor | March 31, 2009
Two years ago, a pair of well-meaning economists, Richard Morgenstern and Winston Harrington, who work at the moderate think tank Resources for the Future (RFF) got a large grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation to convene a group of well-credentialed academics to consider how to improve “cost-benefit analysis” (CBA). Unfortunately, their long-awaited report, released at a briefing today is a mouse that tries to roar, but doesn’t quite. The reforms proposed in the final chapter – and that are never ...

Here Come the TMDLs?

by Yee Huang | March 30, 2009
Rivers, lakes, and other water bodies across the country – including those that provide our drinking water – are contaminated with an eclectic cocktail of pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and nutrients.  Genetic mutations thought to exist only in the realm of science fiction are now readily observed in fish and other aquatic species.  Overall, the EPA estimates that only 12 percent of the nation’s waters have been surveyed, and of that small percentage more than half can no longer be used for ...

The People's Agents: Sulfur in the Home, Brought to You by Drywall from China

by Rena Steinzor | March 27, 2009
Dangerous consumer products just can't seem to stay out of the news lately. The newest revelations are on drywall imported from China. Time reports the horrifying story of a 67-year-old dance teacher named Danie Beck whose two-story townhouse was lined with Chinese drywall. Beck smelled horrific odors shortly after moving in, and then began experiencing dizzy spells, insomnia, and sore joints. Eventually, she discovered the source of her misery: the drywall had somehow ended up with high levels of sulfur ...

What Others Are Saying About the Future of Regulatory Review

by James Goodwin | March 26, 2009
More than 100 groups and individuals have accepted the invitation from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the new Executive Order on Regulatory Review that the Obama Administration is currently considering.  The extended submission deadline is March 31.  So far, the comments reflect a strikingly wide dividing line between regulatory opponents, on the one side, and individuals and groups committed to protecting the public’s interest in health, safety, and environmental sustainability, on the other. On the ...

EPA Finding on Greenhouse Gases Puts Change in Motion

by Matthew Freeman | March 25, 2009
Late last week, the EPA sent over to the White House a preliminary “finding” that greenhouse gas emissions are a threat to public health, and therefore subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. It’s a simple conclusion, not hard to justify in terms of the science or the statute. But it’s momentous, in its way, because unless the White House has a sudden change of heart and blocks it somehow, it will fairly commit the federal government to actually ...

Steinzor and Wagner in Austin American-Statesman and Cleveland Plain Dealer

by Ben Somberg | March 24, 2009
CPR President Rena Steinzor and Member Scholar Wendy Wagner authored an op-ed in Monday's Austin American-Statesman and Cleveland's Plain Dealer with recommendations for President Obama's initiative for "science integrity."  On March 9, the President had instructed John Holdren, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), to develop a plan to achieve a goal of “ensuring the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch's involvement with scientific and technological processes.” Steinzor and Wagner ...

Time for NMFS to lead on hatcheries

by Holly Doremus | March 23, 2009
This item is cross-posted by permission from Legal Planet. Demonstrating once again the importance of presidential elections and appointments, the 9th Circuit has upheld the National Marine Fisheries Service’s policy on considering hatchery fish in listing Pacific salmonids. (Hat tip: ESA blawg.) Hatchery fish can be a boon or a bane to salmon conservation. Because hatchery programs have emphasized production of fish for harvest, on the whole they have been far more harmful than helpful to wild fish over the ...

President Obama Says There's a Law on Toaster Safety. Is it so?

by Matt Shudtz | March 20, 2009
In his appearance on Jay Leno's show last night, President Obama argued (video, transcript) for financial regulations by making a comparison between credit cards, mortgages, and toasters: "When you buy a toaster, if it explodes in your face there's a law that says your toasters need to be safe. But when you get a credit card, or you get a mortgage, there's no law on the books that says if that explodes in your face financially, somehow you're going to ...

The People's Agents: When the Fox Guards the Hen House...and Is Paid by Perdue

by Rena Steinzor | March 20, 2009
The financial cataclysm gripping the country is often (and rightly) blamed on a lax system of public and private oversight of financial institutions. On the private side, investors trusted huge auditing companies like Arthur Anderson to rate multinational corporations for fiscal soundness. Meanwhile, Arthur Anderson also took handsome fees from the same corporations to conduct those audits.  Such self-dealing makes no sense to most Americans.  No one lets us administer our own driving tests, much less check our own tax ...

Longstanding Dispute Brought to the Surface in Allegheny National Forest

by Margaret Clune Giblin | March 19, 2009
More than 10,000 oil and gas wells puncture the land within Pennsylvania's half-million acre Allegheny National Forest  (ANF)—more than in all the other national forests combined, according to the non-profit Allegheny Defense Project.  Back in the mid-1990s, about 100 new wells were drilled each year; today, it's about 1,300 per year.  The boom is driven by increased interest in and exploration of the Marcellus shale reservoir, a rock formation lying 5,000-8,000 feet below a large swath of Appalachia (including Pennsylvania) ...

Goldilocks of the Beach

by Yee Huang | March 18, 2009
Florida’s beaches draw millions of tourists each year, and coastal towns like Palm Beach have a great interest in protecting the beaches against erosion and sea-level rise.  They have experimented with various adaptation and reinforcement techniques, some more successful than others, but none is a permanent solution.  In an administrative hearing on March 2, Judge Robert Meale rejected a beach renourishment project proposed by Palm Beach, criticizing both its harmful environmental impacts and the “worthless” engineering models that supported the ...

Delivering Health, Safety, and a Clean Environment: CPR Submits Comments for New Executive Order on Regulatory Review

by Rena Steinzor | March 17, 2009
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) invited public comments on the design of its new Executive Order on regulatory review, and CPR has now submitted our recommendations. We urged the Obama Administration to make fundamental changes in how OMB and prospective “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein operate. We're hopeful that the new Administration will convert OMB from a regulatory Siberia into the guarantor of dramatically improved government protection of public health, safety, and the environment. If we have learned anything ...

Good news for right whales

by Holly Doremus | March 17, 2009
This item is cross-posted by permission from Legal Planet.   It’s easy for environmentalists to get depressed, given the amount of bad news about climate change, species losses, and the like. But sometimes there is unexpectedly good news. This morning’s New York Times has one of those stories. The Atlantic right whale, which not long ago was thought by many to be a lost cause, appears to be rebounding. Last year brought a record number of calves, and “probably for ...

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