Obama’s Path to Progress: Protecting our Nation’s Lakes and Streams from Pollutant-Laden Stormwater Runoff
This week and next, CPR is using this space to highlight several key regulatory safeguards meant to ensure that the nation’s rivers, lakes, and streams are protected from damaging pollution—rules that are currently under development by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and included in our recent Issue Alert, Barack Obama’s Path to Progress in 2015-16: Thirteen Essential Regulatory Actions. Today’s post will highlight the pressing need to rein in stormwater pollution, while also examining some of the challenges the EPA must overcome as it drafts the rules by focusing on Maryland’s experience regulating the pollution source.
As rainwater flows over streets, parking lots, and rooftops and other impervious surfaces, it picks up a potent cocktail of pollutants that includes oil and grease from parking lots, pesticides and herbicides from lawns, and everything in between. This polluted stormwater makes its way through gutters and storm drains to the nearest stream, where it damages water quality and aquatic life. The more development that occurs, the more impervious surfaces are created, and the more stormwater pollution is produced. According to the EPA, a typical city block generates more than five times more runoff than a forested area of the same size.
Under the terms of a settle agreement arising out of a lawsuit brought by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the EPA was required to issue new restrictions on stormwater pollution. But the EPA has missed a series of deadlines, and
Baltimore Sun Op-ed by Rena Steinzor and Sally Dworak-Fisher: Maryland's Whistleblower Laws Need Teeth
by Erin Kesler | December 05, 2014
Today, the Baltimore Sun published an op-ed by CPR President Rena Steinzor and Public Justice Center attorney Sally Dworak-Fisher entitled, "Maryland's whistleblower laws need teeth." According to the piece: Whistleblowers can help identify and put a stop to all sorts of illegal activity, if they're properly protected. Dozens of state and federal laws include provisions intended to shield whistleblowers from retaliatory actions by employers who have been outed. But this piecemeal approach, with different laws enforced by different agencies, is too complicated and
CPR Executive Director Matt Shudtz on the President's Comments on Regulation
by Erin Kesler | December 03, 2014
Today the President addressed the Business Roundtable on the subject of regulation. When speaking about revising current regulations, he spoke about the need to keep child labor laws. According to CPR Executive Director Matt Shudtz: The President was right to start his remarks with the clear examples of how strong (or to the business lobby, “costly”) regulations save lives and improve the environment. There are hundreds more where they came from, including our labor laws. That’s what makes his later statement
Obama’s Path to Progress: Protecting America’s Wetlands and Other Fragile Water Resources
Over the next two weeks, CPR will publish a series of blog posts highlighting several key regulatory safeguards for protecting the integrity and health of U.S. water bodies against damaging pollution—rules that are currently under development by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and included in our recent Issue Alert, Barack Obama’s Path to Progress in 2015-16: Thirteen Essential Regulatory Actions. Today’s post will examine the clean water safeguard that has attracted perhaps the most vociferous opposition from industrial and agricultural
Support CPR this Giving Tuesday
by Matt Shudtz | December 02, 2014
This Giving Tuesday, I hope you'll consider donating to the Center for Progressive Reform. We've had a banner year and are looking forward to many great things in 2015. Above all, CPR's staff and Member Scholars promote a positive and progressive vision for environmental policy and workers' rights. We need your support to continue that work. Two days after the midterm elections, we released "Barack Obama's Path to Progress," an Issue Alert laying out an affirmative and politically realistic vision for
CPR's Victor Flatt Submits Comments on EPA's Rule to Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions
by Erin Kesler | December 01, 2014
Today is the deadline for comments from the public on EPA's proposed rule to limit carbon emission from existing power plants. CPR Member Scholar and University of North Carolina School of Law professor Victor Flatt submitted a comment on the rule. According to his comments: What I would like to focus on is suggesting that the agency definitively interpret Section 111(d) to allow states to utilize a greenhouse gas market reduction strategy that allows greenhouse gas reductions to come from any source.
The Death of Deference?
Yesterday, the Supreme Court granted cert. in several cases to hear the following question: “Whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.” The fundamental issue is whether it was unreasonable for EPA to interpret section 112 to preclude consideration of cost at this particular stage of the regulatory process — not only different from what the Court thinks is the best interpretation, but a position
EPA's Long-Delayed Ozone Proposal
How much is it worth to save the life of a grandfather with lung disease or to keep an asthmatic child out of the hospital? The ozone rule, which EPA proposes today after years of politically motivated delay and while staring down the barrel of a court order, responds to the urgent calls of a gold-standard panel of scientists, who have been pleading with the agency to lower the existing standard of 75 parts per billion to the lower end of
Obama’s Path to Progress: Protecting Families and Children Against Dangerous Food Imports
As I noted in an earlier post, families and friends all across the United States will gather to observe the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow. Compared to many other countries, we are lucky that during such occasions we are able to focus on the celebrations enjoyed in the company of our loved ones—and not have to worry so much about whether the meal might cause a foodborne illness. This is because, while far from perfect, the United States has one of the
Rena Steinzor: Supreme Court Agrees to Review Challenge to EPA's Mercury Pollution Rule
by Erin Kesler | November 25, 2014
Today, the Supreme Court agreed to review a challenge to an EPA rule to reduce mercury pollution. The Utility Air Regulatory Group and the National Mining Association, and twenty-one states, appealed an April 2-1 federal appeals court ruling that upheld EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. According to Center for Progressive Reform President and University of Maryland School of Law professor Rena Steinzor: The Supreme Court’s decision to grant review is lamentable. It’s no surprise that the coal-fired power plants want to overturn
Center for Progressive Reform Announces New Executive Director Matthew Shudtz
by Erin Kesler | November 25, 2014
The Board of Directors of the Center for Progressive Reform today announced the selection of Matthew Shudtz as Executive Director of the 12-year-old organization. Shudtz, who succeeds Jake Caldwell, has been Acting Executive Director of CPR since July of this year. Shudtz joined CPR’s staff in 2006 as a Policy Analyst, and was subsequently promoted to Senior Policy Analyst. His work has focused on OSHA and related workplace health and safety regulations and toxic chemical control and reform. He has
CPR is Hiring a Chesapeake Bay Policy Analyst
CPR is on the hunt for an energetic, organized, and dedicated advocate to join our staff as a Policy Analyst. The focus of this position is restoring the Chesapeake Bay through strong implementation of the Bay TMDL. We are especially interested in candidates who have a background in the legal and policy issues related to both clean water and climate change adaptation. Expertise in GIS and other mapping software is a plus. For a full job description, please see our
Obama’s Path to Progress: Safeguarding Families Against Tainted Processed Foods and Produce
Later this week, most of us in the United States will gather together for the simple but meaningful act of sharing a meal as a way to celebrate and reflect upon the relationships and blessings that enrich our lives. The menus will differ from table to table, and family to family, of course. But very few of us will give much thought to whether the food is safe to eat whether it’s been tainted with bacteria or other pathogens. All
New Legislation: How the House of Representatives Would Use Scientific Uncertainty to Stop Environmental Legislation
The House of Representatives has passed legislation (H.R. 1422) that prohibits academic scientists on EPA’s Scientific Advisory committee from participating in “activities that directly or indirectly involve review of evaluation of their own work,” but allows scientists who work for industry to serve on the Board as long as they reveal their respective conflicts of interest. To understand the House’s real motives, it is necessary to appreciate how industry seeks to use scientific uncertainty as an excuse not to act
Obama’s Path to Progress: Protecting Farmworker Kids
by Matt Shudtz | November 19, 2014
Next week in this space, we’ll ask you to think about the food on your Thanksgiving table and what FDA ought to do to keep it safe. Today, I want to focus on how the food gets there—in particular, the work children contribute to the farms where our food and other crops are grown. Many people hold on to the image of children gathering eggs in the yard or dumping a pail of slop in front of an appreciative sow
Oral Argument Begins in Farm Lobby’s Misguided Challenge to Bay Pollution Diet
Today, the Third Circuit will hear arguments in a case to determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) overstepped its authority when it established a pollution diet for the Chesapeake Bay. After decades of failed attempts to clean up the Bay, the pollution diet imposes strong, enforceable deadlines for cleanup. Even without distracting and misguided legal challenges from out-of-state lobbying groups, the restoration battle won’t be easy. The plan has been in place since 2010 and still the Bay experienced
Obama’s Path to Progress: Protecting Workers from Deadly Silica Dust
by Matt Shudtz | November 17, 2014
In 1997, when OSHA first placed the silica standard on its to-do list, Titanic and Good Will Hunting were hits at the box office and the Hanson Brothers’ “MMMBop” was topping the charts. Pop culture has come a long way since then. OSHA, however, has only made modest progress on the silica rule. It took until 2013—sixteen years—for OSHA to get from saying “we plan to create a new standard” to actually proposing the text. Now the agency is reviewing
Why I Wrote This Book: Why Not Jail?
I have spent 38 years in Washington, D.C. as a close observer of the regulatory system, specifically the government’s efforts to protect public health, worker and consumer safety, and the environment. The system’s a mess. Regulatory failure has become so acute that we truly are frozen in a paradox. On one hand, people expect the government to ensure that air and water are clean, workers don’t die on the job for avoidable reasons, food is safe, and drugs are efficacious.