CPR Congratulates Chairman Henry Waxman

by Matthew Freeman | November 21, 2008

In January, “committed environmentalist” Henry Waxman will take the chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, the body through which environmental legislation – and most significantly, climate change legislation – will pass on its way to the floor of the House of Representatives next year. As it happens, Representative Waxman is a charter member of the Center for Progressive Reform’s Advisory Council, and has been very supportive of the organization’s work.


CPR isn’t in the business of endorsing candidates, nor involving itself in intra-party battles for leadership positions. But we recognize an environmental leader when we see one, and our Member Scholars look forward to contributing their policy ideas to the work of his committee.


Yesterday, CPR President Rena Steinzor sent a letter of congratulations to Representative Waxman. She wrote:

On behalf of the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR), I want to congratulate you on your new position in the 111th Congress as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. We’re not absolutely certain that your membership on our Advisory Council was the deciding factor, but we’re proud of our association with your achievement. We also congratulate your dedicated and knowledgeable staff on their years of service and know that they will be very successful in working on the important issues you will face as chairman.

You and CPR have a long history of mutual support. Your address to CPR at ...

National Forests, a New Administration, and Climate Change

by Margaret Clune Giblin | November 20, 2008
One important environmental challenge facing soon-to-be-President Obama is how to reinvigorate the National Forest System’s environmental protections.  The system encompasses 192 million acres of land, which – to the constant amazement of those of us on the East Coast – represents about 8 percent of the total land area of the United States (roughly equivalent to the size of Texas), and about 25 percent of the country’s total forested lands.  Late in the 19th Century, amid concerns that excessive logging ...

A Better Measure for the Social Costs of Dangerous Products

by Matt Shudtz | November 19, 2008
Last Friday, the American University Washington College of Law and the Robert L. Habush Endowment of the American Association for Justice hosted a conference on emerging ideas in consumer product safety. CPR Member Scholar Sid Shapiro opened the day with a presentation of a new paper he’s written with Professors Ruth Ruttenberg (National Labor College) and Paul Leigh (UC-Davis).   Their paper is an empirical study of the “extended costs” economists typically overlook when tallying up the costs of personal ...

The Era of Bigfoot Government Is Over

by Shana Campbell Jones | November 18, 2008
Bigfoot lives, and he’s not hiding out from the paparazzi somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. He drives more than 630,000 vehicles. He is the largest consumer of energy in the United States, costing taxpayers about $14.5 billion. He generates about 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly, approximately 1.4 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gases per year. Who is Bigfoot? He’s Uncle Sam, our very own federal government. And he’s got a carbon footprint bigger than all of Belgium, ...

An Executive Order to Restore Transparency to Government

by Sidney Shapiro | November 17, 2008
The Bush Administration's penchant for secrecy was one of the most corrosive aspects of the way it ran the government these last eight years. This preference for conducting government business behind closed doors ran the gamut from military and foreign policy, where secrecy is more easily justified, to regulatory policy, where it is much less justified. President-elect Obama has the authority to issue a new Executive Order on government transparency that could address and reverse the secrecy policies of the ...

Holly Doremus in Slate on the Supreme Court's Ruling on Sonar and Whales

by Matthew Freeman | November 15, 2008
Don't miss CPR Member Scholar Holly Doremus's piece in Slate, published November 14, on the Supreme Court's ruling in NRDC's challenge to the Navy's use of harmful-to-whales sonar in anit-submarine training off the California coast. ...

Revitalizing Cooperative Federalism by Limiting Federal Preemption of State law

by Robert Glicksman | November 14, 2008
As President-elect Obama and his transition team begin planning to implement the new Administration’s agenda, a flood of policy proposals can be expected to compete for the President-elect’s attention. Proposals to deal with the nation’s economic crisis surely deserve to top the agenda. This week, CPR issued Protecting Public Health and the Environment by the Stroke of a Presidential Pen: Seven Executive Orders for the President’s First 100 Days, urging President Obama to take steps early in his presidency to ...

An Executive Order on Environmental Justice

by Robert Verchick | November 13, 2008
President-Elect Obama has promised to support spending $150 billion over 10 years to create 5 million new “green collar jobs.” If allocated correctly, these jobs could jump-start the economies of urban neighborhoods and pockets of rural poverty. Imagine a country where a new generation of workers earns good wages and benefits— even saving for the kids’ education — while building light-rail systems, servicing wind turbines, and installing solar panels on neighborhood homes. A green economy like this would not only ...

A New Washington for Our Kids

by Rena Steinzor | November 12, 2008
About one in every fifteen Americans is a child under five years old, and those 20 million kids all experience the miracle of discovery and development. These fragile human beings are not simply little adults, the scientists tell us, for all sorts of reasons. They breathe five times faster, for one thing, inhaling much more fresh—and contaminated—air. Because their nervous systems are still developing, they are much more vulnerable to chemicals that cause brain damage, lags in cognitive development, and ...

Stroke of a Pen: An Executive Order Protecting Public Lands

by Robert Fischman | November 12, 2008
This past week, many national newspapers picked up the story from Utah, where the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just approved a spate of resource management plans that clear the way for a massive oil/gas lease sale next month. Some of the tens of thousands of acres slated for leasing are near the boundaries of national parks, such as Arches and Canyonlands. Many more are on lands with wilderness characteristics.   This last burst of enthusiasm for fossil fuel leasing ...

By the Stroke of a Presidential Pen: Executive Orders on Climate Change

by Amy Sinden | November 10, 2008
President-elect Obama has a lot on his plate. No doubt the financial crisis is foremost on his mind. But as he ticked off his to-do list in his victory speech Tuesday night, I heard our new president mention another global crisis as well: “a planet in peril.” The worst economic crisis since the great depression may be the crisis that’s getting all the attention and money thrown its way lately, but the other global crisis—the inexorable and ominous warming of ...

Bush Administration Deregulatory Agenda Finishing Strong

by Thomas McGarity | November 07, 2008
  Joining Thomas McGarity in this post are CPR Policy Analysts Margaret Clune Giblin and Matthew Shudtz.  This entry is cross-posted on ACSBlog, the blog of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.   In the wake of the meltdown in the US financial sector, federal regulation has attracted renewed public support as a vehicle for establishing responsible boundaries and correcting market failures. Recent news stories, however, have focused public attention on a flurry of regulations that the Bush ...

Over Our Heads? Climate Change Threatens A Beleaguered Chesapeake Bay

by Shana Campbell Jones | November 06, 2008
You can never step in the same river twice, the saying goes. According to a new report about how climate change is expected to affect the Chesapeake Bay, that saying may become truer than ever.   In Climate Change and the Chesapeake Bay, a group of scientists and water quality experts found that, because of climate change, “the Bay’s functioning by the end of this century will differ significantly from that observed during the last century….” The report concluded that ...

Climate Change: A New Reason to Act on Old Recommendations

by Margaret Clune Giblin | November 05, 2008
Climate change is such an unprecedented challenge that sometimes it can seem overwhelming to think through its full range of impacts, let alone develop policy solutions to address them. Yet as policymakers delve into the details of the many ways in which climate change will impact global societies and the environment, the most promising solutions frequently turn out to have a distinctly familiar ring. Often, they are measures that have long been recommended for reasons that, although intensified by climate ...

Saving Science: PFOA Update

by Matt Shudtz | November 04, 2008
In CPR’s recent white paper, Saving Science from Politics, Rena Steinzor, Wendy Wagner and I proposed reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to strengthen the Act’s “adverse effects” reporting requirements.  Under TSCA, registration of a chemical with EPA triggers a continuing obligation on regulated firms to submit to EPA any information they obtain that “reasonably supports the conclusion” that a chemical or mixture they manufacture, import, process, or distribute “presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the ...

The Wyeth Case

by Thomas McGarity | November 03, 2008
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that could give a boost to the Bush Administration’s backdoor “tort reform” efforts – an increasingly transparent effort to shield industry from litigation over defective products. The issue in Wyeth v. Levine is whether the Food and Drug Administration’s labeling requirements preempt state tort law.   Here are the facts of the case: Eight years ago, professional guitarist Diana Levine went to a clinic with a migraine ...

Green Jobs Need Protection, Not Preemption

by Shana Campbell Jones | October 30, 2008
Next year, Congress is all but certain to try to tackle climate change legislation again, and the stakes are higher than ever. Further delay in federal action would only compound the problem. But while Congress has been sitting on its hands for more than a decade, many states have taken action, seeing climate change not only as an environmental threat but also as an economic development opportunity.   Last week, for example, New Jersey Gov. John Corzine released an “energy ...

Globalization: Nightmare on Main Street?

by James Goodwin | October 30, 2008
Halloween—a day on which not everything is as it seems—offers a fitting occasion to ponder the possible effects of globalization on the U.S. regulatory system and its ability to protect Americans.    Globalization is a complex subject, and, like the bandages of a reanimated mummy, its ramifications could probably be unwound indefinitely.  Its proponents wax eloquently on the myriad ways that globalization might improve the capacity of U.S. regulators to protect Americans.  They observe, for example, that increased interdependence among ...

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