Making private companies pay their share for climate change: a new study could revive climate change litigation

by David Hunter | November 26, 2013

Efforts to hold private companies responsible for their contribution to climate change just took a big step forward, thanks to researcher Rick Heede.  For the past eight years, Heede has painstakingly compiled the historical contribution of fossil fuel companies to today’s concentrations of greenhouse gases.  According to Heede’s study ”Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010,” which was published in Climatic Change, just 90 enterprises have accounted for over sixty percent of total industrial carbon dioxide and methane emissions.  And just five private oil companies-- ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and ConocoPhillips—have accounted for more than 12 percent of such emissions.

This data is a potential game-changer in how we think of responsibility for climate change.  The fossil fuel industry would like us to believe that we are all equally culpable every time we turn on an ignition or a light bulb.  But we are not all equally responsible for decisions that have led to climate change—and we certainly have not all benefited from climate change the same way that the five oil companies have.  In addition, several of the top emissions contributors actively promoted climate change denial campaigns.

This data is legally ...

Dangerous dust and deadly delay: OSHA's proposed silica rule

by Robert Verchick | November 26, 2013
It’s not easy to stare into the eyes of a dying man. But that is what David Michaels, the head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), wants you to do. A video called, “Deadly Dust,” featured on OSHA’s website, introduces Bill Ellis, a retired painter and sandblaster. After years of exposure to fine particles of blasted rock, he developed a respiratory disease called silicosis and died, leaving behind his wife, children, and grandchildren. Ellis’s final months were painful. For a ...

Rethinking 'adaptation'

by Daniel Farber | November 26, 2013
I’ve spent a lot of time and energy talking about the need to adapt to climate change, but I’ve also become increasingly uneasy about “adaptation” as a way to think about the situation.  One of the things I don’t like about the term “adaptation” is that it suggests that we actually can, at some expense, restore ourselves to the same position we would have been in without climate change.  For any given amount of climate change, we can do things ...

Should Congress have to pass a bill twice? OIRA’s interference endangers pilots

by James Goodwin | November 21, 2013
When it comes to OIRA’s antiregulatory meddling, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) pilot fatigue rule provides as textbook an example as you could ask for.  Following Congress’s instruction that the rule be based on the best available science regarding human sleep patterns, the agency drafted a rule that set minimum rest standards for all commercial pilots.  But, the rule couldn’t take effect without the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ (OIRA) review and final approval.  After more than four months, the ...

Maryland yanks rule limiting the use of manure as fertilizer…again

by Anne Havemann | November 21, 2013
Lately, press releases from the Maryland Department of Agriculture read like a broken record: MDA Withdraws Phosphorus Management Tool Regulations; Department to Meet with Stakeholders and Resubmit Regulations  -- August 26, 2013   MDA Withdraws Phosphorus Management Tool Regulations; Department to Consider Comments and Resubmit Regulations --November 15, 2013 The second headline is from this past Friday when MDA withdrew a proposed regulation aimed at cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay by restricting the use of manure to fertilize crops. Manure is ...

What’s for Thanksgiving? Hopefully not more crippling pain for poultry workers! Learn more at upcoming webinar

by Rena Steinzor | November 20, 2013
When we all sit down for Thanksgiving dinner next week, we hope that the food we are feeding our families is wholesome and that the workers who produce it are safe.  Thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), ever the mindless booster of corporate profits, that turkey at the center of the table already disappoints both expectations, and if USDA has its way, matters are about to get much worse.  Hiding behind disingenuous promises to “modernize” the food safety ...

The Award-Winning Catherine Jones

by Matthew Freeman | November 20, 2013
Yesterday, Catherine Jones, CPR's Operations and Finance Manager, received Public Citizen's 11th annual Phyllis McCarthy Public Service Award, in recognition of her contributions to the organization and the nonprofit community. Catherine's been with CPR for eight of our eleven years, and she's been a lynchpin of the organization for most of that time. CPR began small — first as an idea shared by a group of scholars around a restaurant table — then morphed into a somewhat more formal gathering ...

Falling Behind: The Effort to Reduce Pollution from Industrial Animal Farms in Maryland is Lagging

by Anne Havemann | November 20, 2013
Maryland’s effort to limit pollution from massive industrial animal farms in the state is falling behind. A new CPR Issue Alert finds that the state has not registered 26 percent of Maryland’s concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and Maryland animal feeding operations (MAFOs), missing out on tens of thousands of pounds of pollution reduction in the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay is in trouble. Years of half-hearted interstate efforts to check polluting emissions and restore the nation's largest estuary have ...

The return of the senior death discount

by Lisa Heinzerling | November 18, 2013
The Food and Drug Administration recently announced its tentative determination that most of the trans fatty acids in our diets – specifically, partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) – are not “generally recognized as safe” within the meaning of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and thus must be regulated as food additives. If the FDA finalizes this determination, then food manufacturers would need to obtain the approval of the FDA before selling PHOs in any food or as food ingredients. Approval would then ...

Benefits of food safety rules much greater than even the FDA suggests

by Michael Patoka | November 14, 2013
CPR Member Scholars Rena Steinzor Lisa Heinzerling, Tom McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, and I submitted comments to the FDA on two food safety rules—one on raw produce, and one on preventive controls for human food (which applies to food manufacturers and processors). In separate blogs posted today, we address issues of regulatory design and how the costs of both these rules would be significantly smaller than suggested in the FDA’s economic analyses. Here, we explain why these rules offer much greater ...

Deeply flawed economic analysis exaggerates the cost of FDA’s produce rule

by Lisa Heinzerling | November 14, 2013
One of the healthiest things a person can do is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Unless they’re contaminated with dangerous pathogens, that is. Contaminated produce has been responsible for an alarming number of deaths and illnesses in recent years, from Listeria-tainted cantaloupes that killed up to 43 people in 2011 to a Cyclospora outbreak linked to salad mix and cilantro that sickened 631 people in 25 states this past summer.  For this reason, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) directed ...

FDA’s preventive controls rule: hollowed out by OIRA, and less costly than the agency suggests

by Thomas McGarity | November 14, 2013
From frozen meals and spices to nutbutters and cheeses, processed foods have been responsible for an alarming number of outbreaks in recent years. The FDA’s proposed rule on “preventive controls for human food” would require manufacturers, processors, and warehouses to design a written food safety plan tailored to each facility’s products and operations. (The rule would also apply to mixed-type facilities that conduct processing activities on a farm.) In general, facilities would have to identify the potential hazards in their processes and then implement controls to minimize or prevent ...

Tales from our trash: New York City’s sanitation workers, sustainable cities, and the value of knowledge

by Rebecca Bratspies | November 13, 2013
We have a problem in New York City: We generate more than 30,000 tons of waste each day. Roughly one third of that waste is household trash, and the daunting task of collecting garbage from New York City’s three million households falls to 7,000 workers from the NYC Department of Sanitation.  They are, in the words of artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, “keeping New York City alive.”  All of NYC’s waste is shipped out of state for disposal. But first, the city ...

Testimony of CPR's Wagner for House Hearing on new TSCA bill today focuses on impact to EPA's use of science

by Erin Kesler | November 13, 2013
Today, Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, Wendy Wagner will testify at a House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment Hearing entitled, "S. 1009, Chemical Safety Improvement Act." Wagner's testimony can be read in full here. According to her testimony: My testimony will focus on the various good science provisions in S.1009 and how they are likely to impact EPA’s use of science.  I will make the following points ...

CPR's Tom McGarity to testify at Senate Hearing on regulatory ossification

by Erin Kesler | November 07, 2013
Today, Center for Progressive Reform board member and University of Texas School of Law professor Thomas O. McGarity will testify at a Hearing hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee entitled, "Justice Delayed II: the Impact of Nonrule RuleMakiing in Auto Safey and Mental Health." McGarity's testimony can be read in full here. According to the testimony, some possible solutions to the problems created by nonrule rulemaking include: Agencies that are conscientiously committed to carrying out their statutory missions will continue ...

The human cost of regulatory ossification

by Thomas McGarity | November 06, 2013
Tomorrow, a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D. Connecticut) hosts a Hearing on the consequences of excessive regulatory “ossification” entitled, “Justice Delayed II: The Impact of Nonrule Rulemaking on Auto Safety and Mental Health.”  I will be testifying at that hearing on the effects of agencies’ moving to more informal rule-making procedures as a way to avoid the burdensome analytical and internal review requirements that currently make it so difficult for them to promulgate ...

Alt v. EPA: EPA’s control over CAFOs shrinks again

by Anne Havemann | November 05, 2013
Lois Alt is a 61-year-old grandmother who sued EPA in federal court arguing that her large chicken farming operation is exempt from Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting requirements. On October 23, the judge ruled in her favor in an alarming decision that could mean thousands of other large industrial farming operations do not need permits.  The case began when EPA found Ms. Alt in violation of the CWA for discharging without a permit. EPA ordered her to apply for one ...

CPR Scholars: ACUS’ recommendations to OIRA fall short

by Amy Sinden | November 05, 2013
Since the Reagan Administration, federal agencies have been required by Executive Order to send their major rules to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review before releasing them to the public. OIRA review consists of, among other things, ensuring that agencies subject their rules to cost-benefit analysis to make sure the dollar value of their costs to industry exceeds the dollar value of the benefits they confer on the public. It was no surprise under the ...

Deconstructing Regulatory Science

Wagner | Jun 19, 2018 | Regulatory Policy

Agency U-Turns

Farber | Jun 18, 2018 | Regulatory Policy

Laying Down the Law on Rule Delays

Heinzerling | Jun 14, 2018 | Regulatory Policy

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