House Bipartisanship Throws Up Pitifully Weak Toxic Chemicals Control Act Bill

by Rena Steinzor | June 25, 2015

Anyone who cares about the development of sound public policy has grown distraught over congressional gridlock.  The House and Senate are dysfunctional to an extent not seen in modern times.  Neither is able to develop bipartisan legislation to deal with a slew of urgent social problems, from immigration and the minimum wage to the strengthening of outdated health and safety laws.  But the kneejerk glee that accompanies any bipartisan action regardless of content is just as dangerous.  Take, for example, the bill to “reinvigorate” the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that just passed the House by a vote of 398 to 1.

The sad truth is that we don’t require enough testing on toxic chemicals before chemical manufacturers market them in this country, and public health has paid a heavy price for this omission.  It’s difficult to think of more than a very small handful of industrial chemicals that have proved less toxic than we originally thought; instead, the more we learn, the more dangerous the vast majority of toxic chemical mixtures prove to be.  TSCA (pronounced like the opera Tosca) was written in 1976 and is overdue for an overhaul.  But the House bill will not solve the acute problems caused by toxic chemicals in the environment, and could even make matters much worse.  This flawed product will meet a Senate bill that is also quite weak, setting up the potential for a “race to the bottom” ...

NY's Bay TMDL Progress Report: Ignoring a Worthwhile Investment

by Evan Isaacson | June 24, 2015
TMDL.  The first four posts cover the region as a whole, and then Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.  Future posts will explore the progress of the remaining three jurisdictions.                 So far, we have evaluated progress of the three core jurisdictions in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in reducing nutrient and sediment pollution under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL).  These “big three” states and members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission are the ...

Senate Joint Committee Hearing Dedicated to Attacking Public Servants

by James Goodwin | June 23, 2015
When your public approval rating has hovered at or below 20 percent for the last several years, maybe the last thing you should be doing is maligning other government institutions.  That didn’t stop a group of Senators from spending several hours doing just that today during a joint hearing involving the Senate Budget and Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committees.  The joint hearing was nominally about a nonsense regulatory reform proposal called “regulatory budgeting” (for more on that, see here), ...

Walmart’s Cutthroat Business Model Fuels Labor Violations throughout Its Food Supply Chain

by Katie Tracy | June 23, 2015
Every day, millions of consumers endure Walmart’s crowded parking lots and cramped aisles for the chance to buy retail goods and groceries at low prices.  Perhaps some visitors find value in the prospect of starring in the next caught-on-camera video like last week’s hit filmed at a store in Beech Grove, Indiana.  But the lower prices Walmart offers come at a high cost elsewhere.  According to a new report by the Food Chain Workers Alliance, Walmart’s low cost strategy induces ...

You Can Be for Cost-Benefit Analysis or You Can Be for Regulatory Budgeting, But You Can’t be for Both

by James Goodwin | June 22, 2015
For decades, so-called regulatory “reformers” have backed up their sales pitches with the same basic promise:  Their goal is not to stop regulation per se but to promote smarter ones.  This promise, of course, was always a hollow one.  But it gave their myriad reform proposals—always involving some set of convoluted procedural or analytical requirements designed to surreptitiously sabotage the rulemaking process—some shred of legitimacy, while insulating the proponents against any public backlash that might follow from such cynical attacks ...

Heading in the Right Direction: OSHA Nails Poultry Processor for Ergonomics

by Matt Shudtz | June 22, 2015
Last week, OSHA issued noteworthy citations against a poultry slaughtering facility in Delaware. The agency is using its General Duty Clause to hold Allen Harim Foods in Harbeson, Delaware responsible for ergonomic hazards that plague the entire industry—hazards involving the repetitive cutting and twisting motions that lead to musculoskeletal disorders like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. This case follows another from October of last year, when, in response to a complaint by workers and their advocates from the Southern Poverty ...

Maryland's Bay TMDL Report: A Tale of Two States

by Evan Isaacson | June 22, 2015
Editors’ Note:  This is the fourth in a series of posts on measuring progress toward the 2017 interim goal of the Bay TMDL.  The first three posts cover the region as a whole, and then Pennsylvania and Virginia. Future posts will explore the progress of the remaining four jurisdictions.                 Judging from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s modeling of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland is a tale of two states when it comes to ...

Meet CPR’s New Workers’ Rights Policy Analyst

by Erin Kesler | June 19, 2015
Regular readers of this blog are already well acquainted with her, but for everyone else, CPR is pleased to introduce our new workers’ rights policy analyst, Katie Weatherford. Weatherford joins CPR after several years with the Center for Effective Government, where she was a regulatory policy analyst and advocated for strong regulations to protect public health, safety, and the environment. “Katie is insightful, thorough, and poised to be a great fit for CPR,” says Executive Director Matthew Shudtz, “along with ...

Why the Climate Movement Needs a Green Pope, and a Super Voucher

by Robert Verchick | June 18, 2015
ROME—On my first visit to Vatican City, before my meeting with Michelangelo, I greeted the Pope via the city’s ubiquitous souvenir stands. I love this stuff. You can try on the “Papa Francisco” kitchen apron and imagine the pontiff’s smile beaming over your Spaghetti Bolognese. Or gently joggle the pate of a Pope Francis bobble-head. Postcards are everywhere, of course. And for €10 you can score the annual “Hot Priests Calendar,” featuring hunky young men of the cloth. In this ...

PA's Dismal TMDL Report: An Opportunity for Change

by Evan Isaacson | June 17, 2015
We recently explored how Virginia’s progress toward meeting the 2017 interim goal for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL) is mostly the product of decades’ old financial commitments.  So, we might hope to see much of the same from Pennsylvania, a fellow member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission since 1985.  Unfortunately, despite decades of participation in the various agreements to clean the Bay, Pennsylvania’s lack of progress is the single biggest reason to worry about the future ...

Virginia's Bay TMDL Progress Report: A Complete Picture

by Evan Isaacson | June 17, 2015
This is the second in a series of posts to explore progress in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, as reflected in recent data from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s elaborate computer model of the Bay, which accounts for what the states are actually doing to reduce pollution. Read the first post, taking a look at the overall region’s progress, here. Judging solely from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Watershed Model, the Commonwealth of Virginia is doing a pretty good job of reducing ...

CPR's Glicksman to Testify at House Hearing on Ozone Regulations

by Erin Kesler | June 16, 2015
This morning CPR Scholar and George Washington University Law School professor Robert Glicksman will testify in support of EPA's proposed rule to regulate ozone. The Hearing, held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommitee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade will focus on the potential impacts of the proposed ozone rule on manufacturing.  Glicksman's testimony corrects misinformation about the ozone rule's potential negative impact on manufacturing. He notes, My testimony makes four key points: A strong national ozone pollution standard that fulfills the ...

What to Expect from the Supreme Court's Clean Air Mercury Decision

by Thomas McGarity | June 15, 2015
In the shadow of the upcoming Supreme Court decisions on Obamacare and same-sex marriage is an important environmental case that has important implications for the health of women of childbearing age in America.  The Court will decide whether to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s stringent limitations for emissions of the toxic metal mercury from the nation’s coal- and oil-fired power plants. And as with the Obamacare case, the case turns on a matter of language: the single word, “appropriate.”  If ...

Now Is the Time to Implement Real-time Pricing of Electricity

by Richard J Pierce, Jr | June 10, 2015
Editor’s Note: This is the second of two posts. Yesterday’s examined the need for a carbon tax as a way to reduce carbon emissions. Real-time pricing of electricity is a logical complement to a carbon tax. Economists are fond of saying:  “First, get the price right.” What they mean is, if we can take the actions needed to price a good or service at its full social cost, including externalities, we will have much less need to use crude and ...

Clean Air versus States Rights

by Daniel Farber | June 09, 2015
A sleeper decision by the D.C. Circuit upholds federal air pollution authority. The D.C. Circuit’s decision last week in Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality v. EPA didn’t get a lot of attention, despite having a very significant constitutional ruling.  Since the constitutional discussion doesn’t start until about page seventy, after many pages of scintillating discussion of matters like the reliability of private air pollution monitors and the meaning of the word “nearby”, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that the case has ...

Now Is the Time to Implement a Carbon Tax

by Richard J Pierce, Jr | June 09, 2015
Editor’s Note: This is the first of two posts on market-based approaches to reducing carbon emissions. Today’s focuses on a carbon tax; tomorrow’s on real-time pricing of electricity. There is a broad consensus among economists that we will not be able to mitigate climate change efficiently and effectively unless we place a price on carbon. Placing a price on carbon of $40 per ton or more would discourage use of carbon-based fuels. That, in turn, would reduce significantly the quantity ...

Maryland Releases Assessment of Future Financing Needs for Bay Restoration

by Evan Isaacson | June 09, 2015
The State of Maryland released a long overdue report on Monday regarding the state’s plan to finance its implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (Bay TMDL) requirements.  The report was prepared by the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland on behalf of the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Department of Natural Resources, and several other agencies in response to a 2014 request by the budget committees of the Maryland General Assembly. Originating from a ...

An Unconstitutional Attempt to Roll-back Public Health Protections

by Bill Funk | June 03, 2015
Senator Rounds (SD-R) has introduced a proposed concurrent resolution to establish a Joint Select Committee on Regulatory Reform to address the alleged “regulatory overreach that is so prevalent in all sectors of the U.S. economy” by, among other things, conducting a “systematic review” of all rules adopted by federal agencies, supposedly in the name of reducing government expenditure and streamlining business procedures.  Ironically, Congress, if it wishes, can spend its otherwise valuable time having a committee engage in this procedure, ...

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