Department of Agriculture Sends Misguided Fiasco of a Poultry Processing Rule to the White House

by Rena Steinzor | July 11, 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sent its benighted poultry processing rule to the White House for final review.  The millions of consumers who eat undercooked chicken at their peril and the beleaguered workers in these dank, overcrowded, and dangerous plants can only hope the President’s people come to their senses over there and kill this misguided fiasco. 

Ordinarily, we would have hoped that Department of Labor secretary Tom Perez would have put his foot down before USDA proceeded with the final rule, but after months of pleas from the National Council of La Raza, African American labor advocates, trade unions, and consumer groups across the spectrum, he has remained aloof.  Apparently, the economic needs of multi-billion dollar poultry processing companies that have brought us salmonella outbreak after salmonella outbreak will once again trump the needs of the consumers and workers, especially Hispanic and African American workers who, if they are lucky, manage to avoid cutting themselves too often on crowded assembly lines only to succumb to crippling ergonomic injuries a few years down the road.

USDA claims that the rule will “modernize” the food safety system with respect to poultry grown and slaughtered in the U.S.  This claim has got to be one of the greatest misrepresentations launched by the government so far this year.  Instead, the rule makes a pair of very bad changes that benefit an industry undeserving of the public’s trust: ...

CPR President Rena Steinzor Testifies at House Hearing on Federal vs. State Environmental Policy and Constitutional Considerations

by Erin Kesler | July 11, 2014
Today, CPR President Rena Steinzor testifes at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy Hearing entitled, "Constitutional Considerations: States vs. Federal Environmental Implementation Policy." According to her testimony: As I understand the situation, the Subcommittee’s leadership called this hearing in part to explore the contradiction between the notion that legislation to reauthorize the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) should preempt any state authority to regulate chemical products with the notion that the federal government should depend on ...

CPR Issue Alert: EPA Raps Chesapeake Bay States for their Weak Restoration Commitments

by Anne Havemann | July 02, 2014
Pennsylvania, the source of nearly half of the nitrogen that makes its way into the Chesapeake Bay, is falling dangerously behind in controlling the pollutant. Delaware is dragging its feet on issuing pollution-control permits to industrial animal farms and wastewater treatment plants. Maryland has fallen behind on reissuing expired stormwater permits and is not on track to meet that sector’s pollution-reduction goals. These are some of the findings of a series of reports the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued late ...

NLRB gets an earful on its “joint employer” definition

by Matt Shudtz | June 30, 2014
A coalition of occupational health and safety experts submitted an amicus brief to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last Thursday, urging the Board to reconsider its restrictive definition of “joint employer” for purposes of collective bargaining.  It’s a critical issue for workers as more and more are getting jobs through temp firms, staffing agencies, and other complex employment relationships.  The workers who got your last-minute Father’s Day gift from the Amazon warehouse to your front door, for instance, don’t ...

States and localities are where it’s at, opportunities to win safer workplaces

by Celeste Monforton | June 26, 2014
Cross-posted from The Pump Handle. Luis Castaneda Gomez, 34 and Jesus Martinez Benitez, 32 were asphyxiated in June 2011 when they were doing repairs inside a manhole. Their employer, Triangle Grading and Paving, was hired by the City of Durham, NC to make water line repairs. The firm had a history of violating worker safety regulations. Worse yet, it was not the first time an employee of Triangle Grading was killed on-the-job. Durham, like most municipalities, did not have effective ...

Winning Safer Workplaces

by Matt Shudtz | June 26, 2014
Thousands of U.S. workers die on the job each year, the victims of unsafe workplaces. Countless more are injured, some permanently disabled, or exposed to toxic substances that could eventually harm or kill them. While the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has made progress to improve workplace safety since Congress passed the OSH Act in 1971, a new advocacy manual from the Center for Progressive Reform focuses on the progress on worker safety issues  likely to come at the ...

Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA: Little Impact on EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases

by Alice Kaswan | June 25, 2014
In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, seven members of the Supreme Court upheld the most important feature of the EPA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program: the ability to require the vast majority of new and modified sources to install the “Best Available Control Technology” for reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs).  As a consequence, eighty-three percent of significant new and modified sources will continue to be subject to the BACT requirement for their GHG emissions. Although the Court reversed, by ...

Today's Supreme Court Ruling: Three Key Questions

by Daniel Farber | June 23, 2014
Direct implications are limited, but we'll be reading the tea leaves for future implications. Scholars, lawyers, and judges will be spending a lot of time dissecting today’s ruling.   Overall, it’s a bit like yesterday’s World Cup game — EPA didn’t win outright but it didn’t lose either. Here are three key questions with some initial thoughts: What is the direct legal impact of the ruling?  This was really a split decision.  Some sources will escape being covered by EPA’s ...

Enforcement and Regulatory Governance

by Robert Glicksman | June 23, 2014
Co-authored with David L. Markell. Enforcement is widely acknowledged to be an indispensable feature of effective governance in the world of environmental protection and elsewhere. Unfortunately, criticisms of the U.S. government’s efforts to enforce the environmental laws began almost with the inception of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more than forty years ago – and they continue virtually unabated today. In a 2012 report, for example, the U.S. Government Accountability Office(GAO) noted that “EPA has reported that it is not achieving ...

Controlling Power Plants through Clean Air Act § 111(d): Achieving Co-Pollutant Benefits

by Alice Kaswan | June 19, 2014
Power plants are not only one of the nation’s largest sources of greenhouse gases, they are also a significant source of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and mercury, all of which have direct public health and welfare consequences. EPA’s recently proposed Clean Power Plan, which applies Clean Air Act § 111(d) to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the nation’s fleet of fossil-fuel power plants, will have important implications for these ubiquitous co-pollutants.  Although the primary goal of the Clean Power ...

India Launches Sweeping Mandatory Program on Corporate Social Responsibility

by Noah M Sachs | June 12, 2014
With little notice in the West, India has just launched the most far-reaching corporate social responsibility (CSR) program in the world.  The CSR law, which took effect April 1, requires large and mid-sized firms to contribute at least 2% of their pre-tax profits (averaged over the previous three years) to social, health, educational, or environmental causes.  It also requires companies to prepare a formal CSR policy and to report annually on their CSR activities.  The CSR law, section 135 of ...

Does OIRA Live Up to Its Own Standards?

by Daniel Farber | June 11, 2014
OIRA should conduct a cost-benefit analysis of its own activities and explore alternatives to its current oversight methods. A White House office called OIRA polices regulations by other agencies in the executive branch.  OIRA basically performs the role of a traditional regulator – it issues regulations that bind other agencies, and agencies need OIRA approval before they can issue their own regulations.  Essentially, then OIRA regulates agencies like EPA the same way that those agencies regulate industry.  Issuing regulatory mandates and permits ...

Remedying Toxic Exposures: Will CERCLA Continue to Help?

by Robin Kundis Craig | June 11, 2014
On Monday, June 9, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court decided CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, --- U.S. ---, --- S. Ct. ---, 2014 WL 2560466 (June 9, 2014), a case that posed the seemingly simple legal question of whether the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA,” also known as Superfund), 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-9675, preempts state statues of repose. Behind that legal question, however, lies the issue of whether the plaintiffs landowners do or should have a state-law ...

Clean Energy Politics

by Joseph Tomain | June 09, 2014
The EPA’s June 2, 2014 announcement of a Clean Power Plan is momentous. On the surface, its scope, complexity, potential for myriad legal challenges and, not to mention, the difficulty of gathering reliable cost and benefit data, make it so. Mothers should advise their children to grow up to be energy lawyers, not cowboys.  However, what makes this proposed rule more significant are the below the surface core principles and concepts that make the Clean Power Plan a game changer for ...

EPA’s Proposed Power Plant Regs: Solid Legal Footing, Considerable Flexibility

by William Buzbee | June 03, 2014
On June 2, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued its much awaited and debated proposed Clean Air Act Section 111(d) regulations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing electric utility generating units, colloquially referred to as power plants.  And because the largest GHG emitters in this category are coal burning plants, such plants and linked businesses and coal-intensive jurisdictions all have nervously awaited these proposals.  In an earlier blog analysis, I assessed the statutory language and how ...

CPR's Verchick in Times-Picayune: Governor Jindal, don't sign away our legal claims against BP

by Erin Kesler | June 02, 2014
Today, Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar Robert Verchick published an op-ed in New Orleans' Times-Picayune entitled, "Gov. Jindal, don't sign away our legal claims against BP." The piece notes: Governor Jindal will probably sign SB469, a bill designed to neutralize the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East's lawsuit against oil and gas companies. But does our governor realize that, if he signs this bill, he may also be killing scores of claims that his own his own state and associated ...

The Legal Basis for the 111(d) Rules

by Daniel Farber | June 02, 2014
Megan Herzog has done a great job of explaining the background of the rules and summarizing the proposal in her blog posts.  I just wanted to add a quick note about how EPA has structured its rules in light of possible legal challenges.  The fundamental issue facing EPA is how to define the “best system” for reducing carbon emissions.  Is it limited to technological upgrades at individual emitters?  Or can it be broader, and if so, how broad?  Industry is sure ...

D.C. Circuit Vacates FERC Smart Grid “Demand Response” Rule

by Joel Eisen | May 30, 2014
Last Friday (May 23), in Electric Power Supply Association v. FERC, a D.C. Circuit panel split 2-1 and vacated Order 745, a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rule designed to promote “demand response” (DR). DR is a rapidly growing and valuable means of reducing electricity demand, thereby benefiting consumers and the environment. It is also an important part of the Smart Grid, in which smart meters and devices that communicate with one another and energy service providers can further promote these goals. ...

Farm Bill 2018: Down Payment on an Effective Conservation Title

Ristino | Jan 17, 2018 | Environmental Policy

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

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