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 for protection under the ESA, populations are already so depleted that there remains little flexibility for further declines. The famous inflexibility of the Act, to “halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost,”2 is borne of the emergency situation facing a species when it declines to the very brink of extinction. Isolated fragments of habitat, low genetic diversity, and precious few populations raise the costs of conservation and heighten the ...

The Rest of the Story Behind the Bay’s Enormous Dead Zone

by Anne Havemann | September 03, 2014
Monday’s Washington Post article on the massive oxygen-depleted areas in the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico promised to uncover how “falter[ing]” “pollution curbs” were contributing to the dead zones. Instead, the article focused almost exclusively on the dead zones themselves, providing nothing on the vital, yet stalled, regulatory solutions. The article mentioned that fertilizer and manure washed from farms helped form the Chesapeake Bay dead zone, which was the eighth largest since record-keeping began. Yet it failed to mention ...

No, the GAO Didn’t Say EPA’s Cost-Benefit Analyses are Bad—But Here’s What We Should Take Away from Their Report

by James Goodwin | August 27, 2014
If you’re an antiregulatory, anti-environment member of Congress, such as Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) or Darrell Issa (R-CA), how do you get the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to issue a report that criticizes the cost-benefit analyses that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has performed on some of its recent rules?  That’s easy—you simply ask for one.  Then, when the GAO issues the report, like it did a few weeks back, you can begin issuing press releases filled with invective and ...

FDA Discretion and Animal Antibiotics

by Daniel Farber | August 20, 2014
FDA has stalled for 30 years in regulating antibiotics in animal feed. A court says that's O.K. The FDA seems to be convinced that current use of antibiotics in animal feed is a threat to human health. But the Second Circuit ruled recently in NRDC v. FDA that EPA has no duty to consider banning their use.  That may seem ridiculous, but actually it’s a very close case legally.  The court’s discussion of Massachusetts v. EPA as an administrative law precedent should be especially interesting to environmental ...

The Real Price of Chicken Nuggets: Obama Administration Turns Its Back on Poultry Processing Workers; Crippled (Literally) by a Thousand Cuts

by Rena Steinzor | August 07, 2014
Only in Washington, D.C. is nothing portrayed as something.  Out in the nation, not so much.  And so it was late last week that the Obama Administration took a victory lap for not making life even more miserable for some of the most abused workers in America. Yup, despite the best efforts of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is supposed to watch out for workers’ well-being, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the life-long booster for corporate ...

Richard Tol on Climate Policy: A Critical View of an Overview

by Frank Ackerman | August 05, 2014
Richard Tol’s 2013 article, “Targets for global climate policy: An overview,” has been taken by some as a definitive summary of what economics has to say about climate change.[1] It became a central building block of Chapter 10 of the recent  IPCC Working Group 2 report (Fifth Assessment Report, 2014), with some of its numbers appearing in the Working Group 2 Summary for Policymakers.[2] After extensive analysis of multiple results from a number of authors, Tol reaches strong and surprising ...

We Do Need a Weatherman to Tell Which Way the Wind Blows

by Joel Mintz | August 05, 2014
Over the past few years, as levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have continued to rise, natural disasters in the United States and around the world have become ever-more frequent. In the U.S., in fact, extreme weather-related events, including severe droughts, floods, wildfires, windstorms and other disasters are now very often reported in the news media. The clear consensus among climate scientists is that—even though no single extreme event can be said to be directly caused by climate change—global ...

Tobacco Teachings, Up in Smoke?

by Lisa Heinzerling | August 04, 2014
Imagine a government warning on tobacco products that gave nearly equal prominence to both the pleasures and pains of using tobacco products. The "warning" would tell citizens that whether they should use tobacco products or not was – despite the government's long practice of recommending against such use – actually a pretty close case. Tobacco use is just so pleasurable, it turns out, that its risks – of bad health, of early death – might be worth it. Or imagine a ...

Statement of CPR President Rena Steinzor on the Finalization of USDA’s Poultry Inspection Rule that Harms Consumers and Workers

by Erin Kesler | July 31, 2014
In a press call today, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the poultry slaughter “modernization” rule is final and effective immediately.   CPR President Rena Steinzor reacted to the rule's finalization: The rule is a travesty from the perspective of every child who has chicken nuggets for lunch and every low-wage worker who stands in a fetid, overcrowded room cutting chicken carcasses thousands of times a day. The new inspection system will allow plants to operate their slaughtering and evisceration ...

CPR President Rena Steinzor in Roll Call: Congress Vs. GM: 'Why Not Jail' Squares Off Against K Street

by Erin Kesler | July 31, 2014
Today, Roll Call published a piece by CPR President Rena Steinzor in support of the "Hide no Harm" bill. According to the piece: The “Hide No Harm Act” includes a definition of the “responsible corporate officer” against whom such cases could be brought, clarifying an existing legal doctrine by saying higher-level executives have the “responsibility and authority, by reason of his or her position in the business entity  . . .  to acquire knowledge of any serious danger.” The key is that the person ...

Tweaks to Bad Chicken Processing Rule Leave Workers and Consumers in the Lurch; Rule Hurtles Out of the White House Door at Record Speed

by Rena Steinzor | July 30, 2014
We’ve received the bad news from impeccable sources that the much-criticized USDA poultry processing rule has passed White House review at record speed—20 days, count ‘em!—and will be released late this afternoon.  As usual, the process of OIRA review was shrouded in secrecy, with affected stakeholders filing in and out of the White House to talk about a rule they had never seen to taciturn OIRA officials who had long since cut a deal with USDA.  Of course, the late ...

Silly “Secret Science” Scheme Slithers to the Senate

by Rena Steinzor | July 28, 2014
It must be something of a game for them.  That’s really the only explanation I can come up with for why the antiregulatory members of Congress seem so intent on competing with each other to see who can introduce the most outlandish, over-the-top anti-EPA bill.  If it is a game, then its best competitors would have to include Senators John Barasso (R-WY) and David Vitter (R-LA) who earlier this month introduced S. 2613, the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014. ...

The GAO’s Scathing Report on the SBA Office of Advocacy: 15 Big Revelations

by James Goodwin | July 28, 2014
As I noted here last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report that delivered a scathing review of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy.  The GAO report’s general objective was to assess whether and to what extent the SBA Office of Advocacy is fulfilling its core mission of serving as a “voice for small businesses within the federal government,” and accordingly looked at two of its most important activities for carrying out that core mission: sponsoring ...

CPR’s Persistent Watchdogging of Embattled SBA Office of Advocacy Prompts Scathing GAO Report

by James Goodwin | July 22, 2014
Earlier today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a scathing report, criticizing the regulatory work and research conducted by the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy.  For the past several years, CPR has worked to bring much-needed attention from policymakers, the press, and the public interest community to the SBA Office of Advocacy, which has long leveraged its powerful position in the rulemaking process to oppose stronger safeguards necessary for protecting people and the environment.  Critically, as CPR’s work ...

CPR Scholars Support 'Hide no Harm' Bill to Hold Corporate Officers Accountable for Negligence

by Erin Kesler | July 15, 2014
New legislation introduced by Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) and co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) would ensure that corporate executives who knowingly market life-threatening products or continue unsafe business practices are held criminally responsible when people die or are injured.   Under the Hide No Harm Act, key corporate managers will be required by law to report serious dangers to relevant government agencies, employees and affected members of the public. CPR Member Scholars wrote in support of the ...

Citizen Enforcement: Preventing Sediment Pollution One Construction Site at a Time

by Anne Havemann | July 15, 2014
I will never look at a construction site the same way again. Certain types of pollution—mostly sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus—run into the Chesapeake Bay and fuel algal blooms, creating dead zones where crabs, oysters and other Bay life cannot survive. Indeed, the Chesapeake is on track to have an above-average dead zone this year. Construction sites are a major source of sediment runoff. When mud washes from a single construction site, it can damage three miles of downstream waters. Recovery ...

Give Them an Inch … And They’ll Take Twenty Years

by Catherine O'Neill | July 14, 2014
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has gone to exceeding lengths to defer to states’ efforts to bring their water quality standards into the twenty-first century.  But the state of Washington has shown the perils of this deferential posture, if the goals of the Clean Water Act (CWA) are ever to be reached for our nation’s waters.  After months and years of delay, Governor Jay Inslee held a press conference this week to unveil his long-awaited plan for updating Washington’s water quality ...

USDA Submits Poultry Rule to OMB: The Facts

by Matt Shudtz | July 11, 2014
Yesterday, USDA submitted its draft final rule on poultry slaughter “modernization” to OMB for formal review.  This rule, as regular readers of CPR Blog will remember, would remove USDA inspectors from poultry slaughtering facilities, transfer some of their food safety and quality control duties to plant employees, and allow the plants to increase their line speeds to an astonishing 175 birds per minute.  On top of that, the rule allows each plant to develop its own testing protocols for E. ...

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