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 could or should have known, not that he or she admits to having known.

It concludes:

The Department of Justice is undoubtedly negotiating fervently with company lawyers to reach a corporate settlement. But the prospect of allowing GM to buy its way out of having caused at least 13 deaths without even admitting criminal liability, casts a shadow over the proceedings. Why should the responsible parties at GM escape prosecution because the corporate ...

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. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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