Mountaintop mining update

by Holly Doremus | May 20, 2009

This item is cross-posted by permission from Legal Planet.

In March, I wrote here about EPA’s newfound boldness on mountaintop removal mining. Under current regulations, the Corps of Engineers issues permits for that practice under Clean Water Act section 404, but EPA has the authority to veto those permits. EPA, which was entirely passive on the matter under the Bush administration, had sent objections to the Corps on a couple of permits, and announced that “it would take ...

On Offsets, New Waxman-Markey Bill is a Mixed Bag

by Victor Flatt | May 19, 2009
On Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released its anticipated Beta version of its comprehensive GHG and energy bill. Among other goals, the new discussion draft attempts to address concerns from moderate and conservative Democrats concerning the proposed cap and trade system and how it would work. The most notable change involves the free allocation of allowances to certain economic sectors to assist in the transition to the new system, and this is the part that seems to most ...

COP-4: Beyond the Dirty Dozen

by Matt Shudtz | May 18, 2009
On May 9, at the conclusion of the Fourth Conference of the Parties (COP-4) to the Stockholm Convention, negotiators from around the world agreed to add nine chemicals to the list of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that are too dangerous for international trade. It was an important step toward protecting the world community from toxic exposures, but it unfortunately highlights our country's inability to take a leading role in international environmental law. How it works In 2001, representatives of nations ...

O'Neill Testifies on Mercury From Chlor-Alkali Plants

by Ben Somberg | May 15, 2009
On Tuesday, CPR Member Scholar Catherine O'Neill testified about mercury pollution from chlor-alkali plants at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection. At least one in ten women of childbearing age in the United States has blood levels of mercury that threaten the neurological health of her newborn babies. Chlor-alkali plants are a major source of mercury pollution (which we are exposed to primarily through eating fish), even though only four ...

CPR Submits Comments to White House on Science Integrity Initiative

by Ben Somberg | May 14, 2009
CPR President Rena Steinzor and Policy Analyst Matt Shudtz submitted formal comments this week to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with policy recommendations for separating science from politics. Back on March 9, President Obama issued a memorandum on scientific integrity, which outlined broad principles on the subject and requested that John Holdren, the director of OSTP, draw up a series of specific policy recommendations. CPR Member Scholars wrote a letter to Holdren with initial recommendations, ...

Cass Sunstein Hits the Senate and Climate Change Hits the Media Fan

by Rena Steinzor | May 13, 2009
Cass Sunstein had his confirmation hearing Tuesday; it was well-attended and anti-climactic. President Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) testified for about an hour, and Senate approval of the nomination seems assured. Ironically, in a perfect example of timing being everything, at about the same hour that Sunstein took his seat in front of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, a story hit the media ...

Sunstein at the Helm

by Rena Steinzor | May 13, 2009
With his attractive family and a phalanx of top aides in tow, Professor Cass Sunstein had a cordial, 45-minute hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee yesterday. He was introduced by former student and current Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) who praised Sunstein as a teacher, mentor, and eclectic thinker, all qualities for which he is rightly known. Ironically, however, the remainder of the hearing could be summarized as efforts by the three Senators in attendance— Chairman Joseph ...

Obama's Executive Order on the Chesapeake - a First

by Shana Campbell Jones | May 13, 2009
Yesterday, as the Executive Council for the Chesapeake Bay Program held its annual meeting, President Obama issued an Executive Order on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration (a first), declaring the Chesapeake Bay a national treasure and signaling that EPA will play a strong role in leading Bay cleanup. For years, federal leadership on the Bay has been missing in action. President Obama's move is dramatic, and we dare to hope that this could be a turning point. Among other things, ...

Catherine O'Neill and Amy Sinden pen op-ed in Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunstein Nomination

by Ben Somberg | May 12, 2009
With Cass Sunstein's confirmation hearing for "regulatory czar" set for today, CPR Member Scholars Catherine O'Neill and Amy Sinden have an op-ed on the subject in this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer -- "The cost-benefit dodge." They write:  Beginning in the Reagan administration, any regulation with a significant impact has had to pass through Information and Regulatory Affairs' doors for approval. The office's role, frankly, has been to water down health, safety, and environmental regulations - if not drown them entirely. ... ...

Where Does Manure in the Chesapeake Come From Anyway? EPA, It's Time to Find Out

by Shana Campbell Jones | May 11, 2009
Cattle, chickens, and hogs create more than 500 million tons of manure in the United States annually – three times more than the sanitary waste produced by people. Yet, in contrast to a concerted federal and state effort to fund and build sewage treatment plants since the Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972, dealing with the water pollution problems caused by animal waste has been like wrestling a greased pig – a stinky, frustrating mess. Regulating agricultural waste in ...

NEPA: Middle-Aged, But Still Vigorous

by Holly Doremus | May 07, 2009
This item is cross-posted by permission from Legal Planet. The National Environmental Policy Act, which became law on January 1, 1970, is the oldest of the major federal environmental laws. It has been a model for environmental assessment laws in numerous states and other nations, but it still comes in for a lot of criticism at home. Some criticisms are surely justified. As Dan pointed out here, NEPA has yet to fulfill the promise of its lofty goals. NEPA has ...

What I Will be Listening for at the Cass Sunstein Confirmation Hearing

by Rena Steinzor | May 06, 2009
Cass Sunstein, President Obama's controversial nominee for Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), will go before the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for his confirmation hearing on Tuesday (May 12). The “Regulatory Czar,” as this position is known, wields enormous influence over the substance of federal regulations affecting matters as diverse as public health and safety, the environment, and education. Professor Sunstein's nomination has attracted attention from the public interest community, largely focused on ...

Secretary Salazar to Appear on The Daily Show

by Ben Somberg | May 06, 2009
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will mix it up with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show tomorrow (Thursday) night. reports: Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff told CNN that Salazar is looking forward to talking about "his work implementing President Obama's vision for building a clean energy economy and his efforts to protect America's treasured landscapes. Time permitting, of course, the Secretary will be glad to offer Stewart some fashion tips, including how best to sport a cowboy hat and bolo tie." ...

CPR's Flatt and Buzbee on Waxman-Markey Bill in Atlanta J-C and Houston Chronicle

by Matthew Freeman | May 05, 2009
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 CPR Member Scholars William W. Buzbee and Victor Flatt have an op-ed in this morning’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution offering a critique of the “discussion draft” of the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. Several CPR Member Scholars have blogged extensively about the bill here on CPRBlog, and with this op-ed, and a similar piece published the week before last in the Houston Chronicle, Professors Buzbee and Flatt take that discussion to the opinion pages of ...

Tweaking the Climate Change Adaptation Proposal

by Alejandro Camacho | May 05, 2009
On Thursday, Rep. Raul Grijalva introduced HR 2192, a bill on adapting to the impacts of climate change. The law would establish a "Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Panel" that would create a plan for several federal agencies to anticipate and seek to mitigate the effects of a changed planet. The bill is very similar to the natural resource adaptation provisions (Title IV, Subtitle E, Subpart C) in the Waxman-Markey draft climate change legislation. Those provisions were a good start, ...

Obama Nominates Tenenbaum and Adler for CPSC Posts

by Matt Shudtz | May 05, 2009
At long last, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is getting the injection of new blood that it has needed for years. President Obama announced today that he will nominate a new Chairwoman and a new Commissioner for the agency. This is great news. CPSC has been operating with just two commissioners for several years. As originally designed, CPSC is supposed to have five commissioners and needs a quorum of three to undertake any meaningful regulatory action, such as create ...

Judicial Review and Cost-Benefit Analysis: Part II

by James Goodwin | May 04, 2009
Last week I discussed how the institution of judicial review has been used to amplify the deregulatory nature of cost-benefit analysis.  This week, I'll talk about some possible remedies. An unusual synergy exists between the institutions of cost-benefit analysis and judicial review.  Under most circumstances, the institution of judicial review is arguably neutral with regard to regulatory issues.  When judicial review is applied to a case involving a regulation that has been weakened by cost-benefit analysis, however, the once neutral institution ...

Judicial Review and Cost-Benefit Analysis

by James Goodwin | May 01, 2009
For the last few years now, CPR’s Member Scholars have made the case that cost-benefit analysis is, by itself, fundamentally deregulatory in nature.  Unfortunately, other institutions in our federal government tend to exacerbate the deregulatory nature of cost-benefit analysis.  Whether by design or dumb luck, cost-benefit analysis allows regulatory opponents to use those institutions—most notably judicial review—to further their deregulatory agendas. The Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) case is a good example.  In February, the Supreme Court decided not to ...

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