Pound-Wise and Penny-Foolish in the Chesapeake Bay

by Evan Isaacson | October 19, 2015

It’s a staple of the right-wing assault on government that “bloated” government programs, like those intended to protect the environment, are a burden to taxpayers. In my home state of Maryland, the numbers demonstrate otherwise. The percentage of taxpayer dollars spent by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is tiny and getting tinier.  In 2014, less than one-quarter of 1 percent of the state’s general funds were expended by MDE, a 40-percent reduction in this share since 2004.  In fact, MDE’s general fund budget actually shrank between 2004 and 2014 – not just in inflation-adjusted terms, but in absolute terms – even as the state budget increased by more than 60 percent.  

That’s not to suggest that the state abandoned environmental programs. Over this same period, Maryland created several major new revenue streams, including a Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund, and the local Watershed Protection and Restoration Funds, which provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually to restore the Chesapeake Bay and other waters of the state.  But those funds don’t conduct the sort of regulatory enforcement that MDE is charged with; they’re focused instead mostly on capital projects. Clearly, policymakers in Maryland are interested in funding such capital projects, but appear willing to neglect the need for scientists, engineers, inspectors, and other officials charged with implementing state and federal environmental laws.  

It may be tempting ...

Too Little and Far Too Late, EPA Releases a Disappointing eReporting Rule

by Evan Isaacson | October 15, 2015
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a long overdue rule that was designed, according to EPA’s description, to move the agency “into the 21st Century.” Since many of the rules’ provisions still will not be in effect more than two decades after the turn of the century, this rulemaking plays right into the hands of those who insist that the federal government cannot work efficiently — ironic, because efficiency is the very purpose of the eReporting rule. In this ...

The Irony of the Sixth Circuit's Clean Water Rule Stay

by Dave Owen | October 14, 2015
Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a nationwide stay of implementation of the new Army Corps/EPA Clean Water Rule.  This sounds like a very big deal, and the state plaintiffs who won the stay will no doubt describe this as a major victory.  Those proclamations will conceal, however, a few layers of complexity and irony. The legal basis for the ruling is an administrative law principle known as the logical outgrowth rule.  Under this principle, ...

The Media Is Missing the Most Important Part of the VW Scandal

by Matthew Freeman | October 09, 2015
Courtesy of the New York Times, here’s a bit of reporting that is emblematic of the way the press has covered the Volkswagen emissions-cheating scandal: Volkswagen said on Tuesday that the scandal would cut deeply into this year’s profit. And the company’s shares plunged again, ending the day 35 percent below the closing price on Friday, before news of the diesel deception broke. As a result, the company’s stock market value has declined about €25 billion in two days of ...

Gag Clauses Chill Consumer Rights

by Mollie Rosenzweig | October 08, 2015
Modern-day snake oil peddlers may have found a way to keep consumers quiet about their ineffective products: non-disparagement clauses, also known as gag clauses. These clauses, slipped into the fine print of form contracts, can restrict a consumer’s ability to post negative reviews of a product online. Non-disparagement clauses, which can vary in scope, generally prevent consumers from publicizing negative reviews of a product or company. This restriction includes comments made on online forums like Yelp or even complaints to ...

New National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone: A Primer

by Robin Kundis Craig | October 07, 2015
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone pursuant to the federal Clean Air Act. See 42 U.S.C. § 7409. The new regulation reduces both the primary and secondary NAAQS for ozone from 0.075 to 0.070 parts per million (ppm) (or from 75 to 70 parts per billion) averaged over eight hours in order to better protect human health, welfare, and the environment. The new regulation has not yet been ...

John Boehner, Volkswagen, and the Role of Government

by Sidney Shapiro | October 06, 2015
The resignation of House Speaker John Boehner and the VW diesel car scandal -- two rather extraordinary events -- might not initially appear to be related, but there is a connection. The most conservative members of the Republican caucus celebrated Representative Boehner's resignation because they felt he did not fight hard enough to shrink the size of the federal government through more aggressive tactics, like government shutdowns. Although one of government's most important functions is to deter behavior such as ...

Ten Things I Hate About Jeb's Antiregulatory Regulatory Reform Plan

by James Goodwin | October 05, 2015
Consistent with his ongoing efforts to distinguish himself among the Republican presidential candidates as a serious “policy wonk,” Jeb Bush, “rolled out” his “regulatory reform” plan last week.  The sad truth, though, is that the plan contains little of what might be considered sober or intellectually rigorous.   Rather, it is simply a mishmash of warmed over ideas from candidate Mitt Romney’s 2012 regulatory reform plan and from the various antiregulatory bills that have been festering in Congress the last several ...

CPR's McGarity Responds to EPA's New Ozone Standard

by Thomas McGarity | October 01, 2015
The new primary ozone standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb) is definitely a step in the right direction, but it has taken EPA far too long to make this much-needed change. We should not forget, however, that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson sent a proposed standard of 65 ppb to the White House in August 2011, but was told explicitly by President Obama to withdraw it because the White House economists thought it would be too costly for business, despite ...

Nudging Utilities Into the Future

by Joseph Tomain | October 01, 2015
Two of the most important aspects of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) are the flexibility afforded states as they design compliance strategies and the plan’s openness to all energy resources. A state can satisfy its emission-reduction targets through the use of cleaner or more efficient coal-fired generation, natural gas or nuclear power as well as through increased use of renewable resources and energy efficiency. Regardless of this flexibility and openness, investor-owned utilities (IOUs), which have dominated the electricity market for ...

A Day's Work: Safety Training for Temp Workers Would Prevent Many Injuries and Deaths

by Katie Tracy | September 28, 2015
Lawrence Daquan “Day” Davis, 21, died tragically on his first day of work at his first job, as a “temp worker” at a Bacardi bottling facility in Jacksonville, Florida. He began his shift within 15 minutes of arriving at the facility, after completing some paperwork and watching a very brief safety video. Although working in a bottling facility is a dangerous job, Davis and his coworkers received no real training about the potential hazards or proper safety procedures. Within hours, ...

Dear Jeb: Crippling Federal Agencies Will Not Keep America Safe!

by Robert Verchick | September 22, 2015
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush released a plan meant to make it harder for federal agencies to make rules that protect public health and the environment. That might help some big corporations. But it makes everyday Americans much less safe. The idea is to jam up the federal rule making process with so many requirements that hardly anything important would get done. Safeguards that keep the air clear, the water clean, and the workplace safe would be put on the back burner. Bush’s ...

VW Scandal: Can Anyone Still Doubt the Need for Regulation?

by Robert Verchick | September 22, 2015
Center for Progressive Reform President Robert R.M. Verchick issued the following statement today in response to the burgeoning Volkswagen emissions scandal: With the Volkswagen emissions scandal, hard on the heels of the GM settlement, can anyone doubt the importance of strong regulation and tough enforcement? One automotive giant let a safety problem fester for a decade while more than 120 people died as a result. Another conspired to cheat on state emissions tests, pumping outrageous loads of pollution into the ...

CPR's Steinzor Reacts to Parnell Sentencing

by Erin Kesler | September 21, 2015
Today, Stewart Parnell, former peanut company executive was sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in a salmonella outbreak that resulted in the deaths of nine people and the illness of 174. CPR Member Scholar and University of Maryland School of Law professor Rena Steinzor issued the following statement in response to the sentencing: This sentence shows that the courts are willing to drop the boom on white collar criminal defendants whose elevation of profits over safety go ...

Steinzor Reacts to GM Settlement Deal

by Rena Steinzor | September 17, 2015
CPR Member Scholar Rena Steinzor reacted to today's announcement of a settlement between General Motors and the Justice Department over charges stemming from the company's failure to disclose a deadly ignition defect it millions of its cars. Steinzor said: This settlement is shamefully weak. GM and its executives knew for years that they had a big problem with the ignition switch, which caused cars to stall at high speeds, depriving drivers of power steering, brakes, and airbags.  The company’s dysfunctional ...

CPR's Shapiro Testifies on Regulatory Bills for Senate Hearing

by Erin Kesler | September 16, 2015
Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is holding a Hearing on legislation focused on the regulatory system entitled, "A Review of Regulatory Reform Proposals." CPR Vice-President and Wake Forest University School of Law professor Sidney Shapiro will be testifying. According to his testimony: It is a good thing that Congress has directed agencies to issue regulations to achieve important social goals because these regulations have produced enormous benefits for the American people.[1] Consider the following: The White House Office of ...

FDA's New Regulations for Food Processors: The Devil is in the Implementation

by Thomas McGarity | September 14, 2015
At long last, the Food and Drug Administration has promulgated two critical regulations implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA).  The regulations flesh out the statute’s requirements for facilities that process human food and animal feed.  Of the regulations that FDA has proposed in order to implement the FSMA, these are perhaps the least controversial.  Indeed, they have won praise from everyone from the Grocery Manufacturers Association to the food safety director of the Pew Charitable Trusts.  This ...

Labor Board's New 'Joint Employer' Standard Offers College Football Players a Second Chance

by Katie Tracy | September 10, 2015
Marking a victory for workers, on August 27, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a highly anticipated decision in the case of Browning-Ferris Industries, updating its overly restrictive standard for determining “joint employer” status for purposes of collective bargaining. The decision responds to the increasing reliance on contingent work arrangements that often involve multiple employers, and reflects the Board’s recognition that its application of labor law must be adjusted to address the realities of today’s economy. Much of the ...

The Center for Progressive Reform

455 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150-513
Washington, DC 20001
info@progressivereform.org
202.747.0698

© Center for Progressive Reform, 2015