Reports of the Death of the Obama Administration Are Greatly Exaggerated: The US-Chinese Climate Agreement

by James Goodwin | November 12, 2014

The commentary following last week’s elections has largely been a variation on either of two themes:  (1) how strong Republicans are now that they have secured majorities in both houses of Congress or (2) how correspondingly weak the Obama Administration will be for the remainder of its time in office when it comes to advancing its policy goals.  This commentary may be true insofar as it relates to new legislation.  (Even there, nothing will really change as the prospects for new legislation that the President can sign will be not much worse now than they have been in recent Congresses.)  But when it comes to enforcement of laws that already on the books, President Obama holds the undisputed upper hand, and congressional Republicans remain effectively impotent.

Last night’s agreement between the United States and China to undertake significant cuts in greenhouse gas emission by 2030 illustrates that.  Under the agreement, the United States will cut its emissions between 26 percent and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, while China will reach its peak greenhouse gas emission by 2030 or earlier.  Since the United States and China are far and away the two largest national emitters of greenhouse gases, this agreement marks a huge step in the international effort to avoid the most dangerous impacts of global climate disruption.  It also helps pave the way for the rest of the global community to undertake significant emissions reductions measures of their ...

Obama’s Path to Progress: Protecting People and the Environment Against Harmful Ozone Pollution

by James Goodwin | November 12, 2014
A few months back, President Obama visited several kids receiving treatment for asthma at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.  Afterwards, he reflected on the critical importance of environmental safeguards, such as those to limit ozone pollution, saying: [E]very time America has set clear rules and better standards for our air, our water, and our children’s health—the warnings of the cynics have been wrong.  They warned that doing something about the smog choking our cities, and acid rain ...

Obama’s Path to Progress: Reducing Climate Disrupting Emissions from Power Plants

by James Goodwin | November 10, 2014
Last week brought a string of bad news as far as global climate disruption goes.  The bummer parade began Sunday with the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Synthesis report, which painted the direst picture yet of the looming global climate disruption threat, finding that “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people ...

President Obama’s Home Stretch: Saving Lives, Conserving Natural Resources, and Securing His Legacy

by Rena Steinzor | November 07, 2014
Last Sunday, the New York Times ran the best of dozens of stories about how President Obama will behave in the last quarter of his eight years in office. Veteran political reporters Peter Baker and Michael Shear wrote: “As the President’s advisers map out the next two years, they have focused on three broad categories: agenda items he can advance without Congress, legislation that might emerge from a newfound spirit of compromise with Republicans, and issues that Mr. Obama can ...

The President’s Path to Progress: Get Serious About Regulating

by Rena Steinzor | November 05, 2014
One curse of being a two-term president is that in your last two years, you must endure a conversation about whether you’re still relevant. For Barack Obama, that conversation is about to go kick into high gear. The pundits will observe, correctly, that his legislative agenda has little chance of moving through the new Congress, although that’s been true since 2011, of course. So what is the path to progress for Barack Obama in these last two years of his ...

Big OSHA Fine for Wayne Farms Poultry Processor a Win for Workers

by Matt Shudtz | October 29, 2014
Today, brave workers at a Wayne Farms poultry slaughterhouse have a reason to celebrate a milestone in their struggle for justice. With help from lawyers at the Southern Poverty Law Center, they filed a complaint with OSHA in April. They blew the whistle on conditions that included dangerous work speeds that caused serious injuries, as well as denying subsequent medical treatment, and the firing of workers who reported their concerns. The agency released some results from its inspection, proposing significant fines against ...

EPA Sends Coal Ash Rule to OIRA

by Rena Steinzor | October 28, 2014
After ringing its hands for nigh on four years, EPA has at last coughed up a final coal ash rule.  Of course, no one but the White House staff will know what it says until the White House releases it in absolutely final form.  Nevertheless, the staff will now engage in the charade of hosting multiple appearances by various interest groups that want to tell the President’s people about those concerns without really knowing what they should be talking about. ...

CPR Submits Comments on Proposed Permit for Maryland’s Industrial Animal Farms

by Anne Havemann | October 23, 2014
This week, CPR President Rena Steinzor and I joined with the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition to submit comments to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) urging the state to strengthen the permit that regulates Maryland’s nearly 600 industrial animal farms. MDE is in the process of renewing the General Discharge Permit, a one-size-fits-all permit that covers Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and Maryland Animal Feeding Operations (MAFOs) within the state (collectively known as Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs)). These farms ...

For Attorney General, A Tough Prosecutor

by Matthew Freeman | October 14, 2014
In an op-ed published in The Hill on Friday, CPR President Rena Steinzor makes the case that in appointing a successor to Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama needs to find a prosecutor tough enough to go after corporate malfeasance with more than a series of comparatively weak deferred prosecution agreements. She writes, Of course, prosecutors can’t send corporations to jail — they are inanimate paper entities. But forcing them to acknowledge that they broke criminal laws is more than ...

A Mass-Based Cap for Power Plants

by David Driesen | October 13, 2014
EPA’s proposed new rule for greenhouse gas emissions from power plants gets a lot of things right. For one thing, it recognizes that electric utilities can employ a variety of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They can switch to natural gas or even renewable energy sources. They can fund end-use efficiency improvements—such as energy efficient windows, better insulation, and light bulbs that burn brightly even while they conserve electricity. All of these techniques reduce power plant emissions. So, EPA ...

Statement of CPR Executive Director Matt Shudtz on OSHA's Call for Dialogue on Chemical Exposure

by Erin Kesler | October 09, 2014
Today, OSHA announced that it is seeking new ideas from stakeholders about preventing workplace injuries caused by exposure to harmful chemicals. The agency wants to identify new ways to develop Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs), the basic standards for reducing air contaminants.   CPR's Executive Director Matthew Shudtz responded to the development: It’s great that Dr. Michaels is continuing to seek new ways to eliminate or manage chemical hazards in the workplace.  OSHA has been relying on outdated standards for too long. But rulemaking is not ...

Lessons From an Epidemic

by Daniel Farber | October 08, 2014
Ebola’s natural reservoirs are animals, if only because human hosts die to too quickly. Outbreaks tend to occur in locations where changes in landscapes have brought animals and humans into closer contact.  Thus, there is considerable speculation about whether ecological factors might be related to the current outbreak. (See here).  At this point, at least, we don’t really know.  Still, it’s clear that outbreaks of diseases like ebola strengthen the case for forest conservation.  Which is also, obviously good for the environment. ...

SBA Office of Advocacy Continues to Carry ‘Water’ for Big Business

by James Goodwin | October 02, 2014
Apparently undeterred by all the bad press it has received lately, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy has cast its controversy-attracting lightning rod ever higher in the air by issuing a feeble comment letter attacking the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pending rulemaking to define the scope of the Clean Water Act (“Waters of the US rule”).  The letter is just the latest evidence that the SBA Office of Advocacy has no interest in working to advance the unique ...

A Blow to Public Interest Litigation

by Daniel Farber | September 18, 2014
A Texas judge's award of attorney fees is a threat to all public interest groups, liberal or conservative. A couple of weeks ago, a federal district judge in Texas awarded over $6 million in attorneys’ fees against the Sierra Club.  Sierra Club had survived motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, only to lose at trial. The court awarded fees on the ground that the suit was frivolous. The combination of rulings — denying summary judgment but then calling a lawsuit frivolous ...

After Four Years, Chesapeake Polluters’ Free Ride May be Coming to an End

by Anne Havemann | September 12, 2014
If you own a car, you’re used to paying a registration fee every two years. It may not be your favorite activity, but you do it. And you recognize that the fees and others like it help offset the cost of making sure vehicles on Maryland's roads are safe, that their polluting emissions are within acceptable limits, and that the people who drive them are licensed to do so. But, in a report issued last fall (and an op-ed in ...

NAM Study on the Cost of Regulations based on Opinion Polls: Statement of CPR Senior Analyst James Goodwin

by Erin Kesler | September 10, 2014
Today, the National Association of Manufacturers released a report produced by economic consultants Crain and Crain on the "cost of regulations to manufacturers and small businesses." CPR Senior Analyst James Goodwin responded to the study: Past Crain & Crain reports on the costs of regulation have been roundly and rightly criticized for unreliable research methods, including basing their studies on opinion polling. Not much has changed about their method in this latest iteration, unfortunately. They still pretend to project actual costs by relying on opinion surveys, and ...

Crain and Crain are Back, and This Time They're Working for the National Association of Manufacturers

by James Goodwin | September 09, 2014
Having thoroughly tarnished their own reputations as well as that of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy, economists W. Mark Crain and Nicole V. Crain are now preparing to make the big leap from thoroughly discredited academics to straight up shills for corporate lobbyists working to undermine public protections.  The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), an industry trade group that vehemently opposes such policies as cleaning up air pollution and improving worker safety, yesterday announced that it will ...

CPR's Robert Fischman Testifies for the House Committee on Natural Resources on the Endangered Species Act

by Erin Kesler | September 09, 2014
Today CPR Member Scholar and Indiana University School of Law professor Robert Fischman is testifying today for the House Committee on Natural Resources on potential amendments to the Endangered Species Act. According to the testimony: I. THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT SHOULD BE A LAST RESORT FOR CONSERVATION, NOT THE PRINCIPAL TOOL. Though Congress intended the ESA to conserve “the ecosystems upon which” imperiled species depend,1 the act almost exclusively focuses on preventing species from going extinct. By the time species are listed ...

A Final 2017 Dose of Op-Eds

Freeman | Dec 28, 2017 | Regulatory Policy

The Off-Switch Is Inside the Fenceline

Farber | Dec 27, 2017 | Energy

Steinzor: Trump's reform won't stop mass incarceration

Freeman | Dec 21, 2017 | Good Government

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