Out of Hibernation

by Matt Shudtz | February 05, 2009

More evidence that EPA is starting to find its bearings after eight years of hibernation: in an interim report on the year-old Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program, EPA admits that asking companies who work on nanomaterials to voluntarily conduct and disclose research on health and environmental hazards isn’t producing much useful information. As a result, the agency is going to start considering how to use its powers under the Toxic Substances Control Act to require data submission.

 

The Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program “was developed to help provide a firmer scientific foundation for regulatory decisions by encouraging submission and development of information for nanoscale materials.” It is comprised of two parts: the Basic Program (which asks companies to voluntarily report any information they have about the nanomaterials with which they work); and the In-Depth Program (which asks for volunteer companies to sponsor research into the health and environmental hazards posed by nanomaterials). Check out the Interim Report (pdf) for more details.

 

A year into the two-year program, EPA hasn’t obtained much information from companies that already have nanomaterials in their products:

  • “It appears that nearly two-thirds of the chemical substances from which commercially available nanoscale materials are based were not reported under the Basic Program.”
  • “It appears that approximately 90 percent of the different nanoscale materials that are likely to be commercially available were not reported under the Basic Program.”

So companies that have already commercialized nanomaterials ...

Revoking EO 13422: An Important First Step Toward Fixing the Regulatory System

by James Goodwin | February 04, 2009
Observers concerned with the current dysfunctional state of the U.S. regulatory system will be letting out a collective sigh of relief following the publication of Executive Order 13497.  Among other things, this Order officially revokes the controversial Executive Order 13422, issued during George W. Bush Administration.   Issued in 2007, Executive Order 13422 amended President Clinton’s September 1993 Executive Order 12866, which established an institutional framework for centralized regulatory review.  Generally speaking, under this framework, the Office of Information and ...

Takings Claims in the Klamath Basin

by Dan Tarlock | February 03, 2009
(Dan Tarlock files this post with CPR Member Scholar Holly Doremus.  The two are co-authors of Water War in the Klamath Basin: Macho Law, Combat Biology, and Dirty Politics, published by Island Press in 2008.)   Last week, the Oregon Supreme Court agreed to decide whether irrigators in the Klamath Basin "own" water delivered by the federal Klamath Reclamation Project. This latest development is one more twist in an ongoing property rights case that illustrates both how difficult it can ...

President Obama's FOIA Order

by Sidney Shapiro | February 02, 2009
On January 21, 2009, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum that I’m hopeful will be the start of undoing much of the excessive secrecy practiced by the previous administration. The memorandum, established that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) “should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.”   A recent CPR report, By the Stroke of the Pen: Seven Executive Orders to Launch the Obama Agenda, had recommended that President Obama take this exact ...

Digital Signals E-Waste: Not In My Backyard

by Yee Huang | January 30, 2009
When analog signals for broadcast television end on February 17, one problem of the digital signal switch for televisions will remain: what to do with older televisions that are incompatible with digital signals.  While the federal government is providing rebates to purchasers of converter boxes for older televisions, the boxes are simply a stopgap measure and do not replicate digital-quality television.  For example, because of the difference in image resolution, the view for a 17-inch television with an analog signal ...

Studies Highlight Need for Natural Resource Adaptation Measures

by Margaret Clune Giblin | January 29, 2009
This week, there’s been good news from the Obama Administration regarding climate change policy.  California will likely get that waiver under the Clean Air Act allowing it to set stricter emissions standards for cars.  Additionally, Lisa Jackson, the new Administrator of EPA, indicated in an e-mail (subscription required) to agency employees that the agency will soon move to comply with the Supreme Court’s opinion in Massachusetts v. EPA.  In that opinion, the Court agreed with the plaintiffs’ arguments that EPA ...

Rescuing Science from Politics, Texas Style

by Shana Campbell Jones | January 28, 2009
We will restore science to its rightful place. -- President Barack Obama, Inaugural Speech   As Governor of Texas, I have set high standards for our public schools, and I have met those standards. -- Former President George W. Bush, Aug. 2000 CNN Interview     With former President Bush hightailing it back to Texas last week, you’d think the cowboy clichés might be right behind him, maybe waiting for the next Ann Richards or Molly Ivins to make them fresh ...

More Accusations of Politics Trumping Science and Law at Interior

by Holly Doremus | January 28, 2009
Cross-posted from Environment & Law.   The Washington Post reports that officials at the Department of Interior ignored “key scientific findings” and the views of National Park Service officials “when they limited water flows in the Grand Canyon to optimize generation of electric power there, risking damage to the ecology of the spectacular national landmark.” The Post story, written by Juliet Eilperin and based in part on documents provided by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, describes a power struggle within ...

CPR's Nina Mendelson on President Obama and the California Waiver

by Matthew Freeman | January 27, 2009
CPR Member Scholar Nina Mendelson has a piece in today's New York Times "Room for Debate" online feature on California's Clean Air Act waiver request.  She says President Obama's direction to EPA that it reconsider its previous denial of the waiver (issued during the Bush Administration) "reaffirms the critical role of states as environmental leaders, something lost sight of in the previous administration."   She continues: Permitting states to develop new approaches is not just about finding local solutions for ...

A Good Day for the Environment

by Matthew Freeman | January 27, 2009
No question about it: A new sheriff’s in town. After eight years of environmental policymaking bent around the convenience of oil companies and other polluting industries, yesterday was like a breath of fresh, clean air. And indeed, clean air is one likely outcome from the Obama Administration’s first few steps on the environment yesterday.   In case you missed it, the first piece big news was that President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider the Bush EPA’s denial ...

Cass Sunstein and OIRA

by Rena Steinzor | January 26, 2009
This morning, the Center for Progressive Reform published a report on some of the issues that will confront President Obama’s “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein, if, as seems likely, he is nominated and confirmed to be the director of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.   I’ve blogged on this before, and our report, Reinvigorating Protection of Health, Safety, and the Environment: The Choices Facing Cass Sunstein, speaks for itself, so I won’t go on too long here. The report ...

If Yes Means Yes, EPA Must Act on Perchlorate

by Shana Campbell Jones | January 23, 2009
When it comes to protecting the environment and human health, the difference between what the Obama Administration portends and what the Bush Administration wrought may reside in the difference between three little words: “yes, we can” versus “no we won’t.” How and when Lisa Jackson, President-elect Obama’s pick to head the EPA, tackles perchlorate will be an early indicator of whether the difference between Bush and Obama will be as dramatic as environmentalists and public health advocates hope. Perchlorate, a ...

Update: Final Endangered Species Rule May Itself Be Endangered

by Margaret Clune Giblin | January 22, 2009
Former President George W. Bush departed for Dallas on Tuesday, but his pervasive legacy remains here in Washington. In a prior post here on CPRblog, I wrote about one of the Bush Administration’s “midnight regulations,” which collectively stamped the most recent of the Bush imprints on public policy. In its proposed changes to the interagency consultation rule under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Bush Administration proposed to, among other things, effectively eliminate the statutory requirement that ...

Scholar/Authors Discuss Their Books on Preemption, Part Two

by Matthew Freeman | January 21, 2009
Editor’s Note: Following is the second of several posts focused on federal preemption issues and featuring CPR Member Scholars Thomas McGarity and William Buzbee.  In December, both published books on the issue.  (The first blog post in the series includes some background on the issue.)  McGarity’s book is The Preemption War: When Federal Bureaucracies Trump Local Juries.  Buzbee’s is Preemption Choice: The Theory, Law, and Reality of Federalism's Core Question, and features chapter contributions from 15 experts, including Buzbee and ...

Bush on Livestock Grazing on Public Lands

by Joe Feller | January 20, 2009
Editor's Note: With the Bush Administration's remaining time in office now measured in hours, we asked CPR Member Scholars to remind us of some of the less publicized moments of the Administration's record on environmental issues. Following is the third of several entries that we'll run on CPRBlog before President Bush returns to Texas. Below, Joe Feller discusses Bush Administration regulations on livestock grazing on public lands.   In 2003, the Bush administration developed new proposed regulations to govern livestock ...

Bush Regulatory Record: Transferring Polluted Water

by Holly Doremus | January 20, 2009
Editor's Note: With the Bush Administration's remaining time in office now measured in hours, we asked CPR Member Scholars to remind us of some of the less publicized moments of the Administration's record on environmental issues. Following is the fourth of several entries published before President Bush returns to Texas. In this one, Holly Doremus takes up the issue of exempting water transfers between water bodies from Clean Water Act protections.   In its eight years in power, the administration ...

A Bit More on the Bush Record on Endangered Species

by Dale Goble | January 19, 2009
Editor's Note:  With the Bush Administration's remaining time in office now measured in hours, we asked CPR Member Scholars to remind us of some of the less publicized moments of the Administration's record on environmental issues.   Following is the second of several entries that we'll run on CPRBlog before President Bush returns to Texas.  Below, Dale Goble responds to Dan Tarlock's earlier post on the Bush Administration's record on biodiversity and endangered species protection.   It is also "interesting" that ...

Bush Record on Biodiversity and Endangered Species

by Dan Tarlock | January 19, 2009
Editor's Note:  With the Bush Administration's remaining time in office now measured in hours, we asked CPR Member Scholars to remind us of some of the less publicized moments of the Administration's record on environmental issues.   Following is the first of several entries that we'll run on CPRBlog before President Bush returns to Texas.  A. Dan Tarlock is first up.   The record of the Bush II Administration on biodiversity is one of almost unrelenting hostility to the idea and ...

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