Bragg, Takings, and the Economics of Limited Resources

by Dave Owen | September 03, 2013

Last week,  the Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District handed down Bragg v. Edwards Aquifer Authority, a decision that anyone interested in takings or water law ought to read (the Lexis cite is 2013 Tex. App. LEXIS 10838).  The Braggs had brought a takings claim alleging that the Edwards Aquifer Authority’s regulatory restrictions on the Braggs’ groundwater use amounted to a regulatory taking.  The appellate court agreed and remanded for an assessment of damages.  But I suspect—and hope—the case will first be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.  It is a deeply flawed and harmful decision with mistakes that additional appellate review hopefully will fix.

Understanding those problems requires a little bit of factual context.  The Edwards Aquifer is a large and highly productive aquifer in central Texas.  It provides an important source of water for municipal and agricultural users, and its discharges support vibrant ecosystems, several of which contain unique and threatened or endangered species.  But those competing uses came into stark conflict, and in the mid-1990s the Texas Legislature responded by creating the Edwards Aquifer Authority and charging it with regulating water withdrawals (for articles on that history, see here and  ...

Another Week, Another Ill-Considered Attempt To Undercut Regulations

by Ross Eisenbrey | August 28, 2013
No week seems to go by without an imbalanced attack on regulatory protections by a trade association, a “think-tank,” a member of Congress, or a journalist. These attacks frequently feature a reference to the growth in the Code of Federal Regulations, even though it is a meaningless measure of whether we’re overregulated. In offering another bill to diminish regulation, Sen. Angus King, for example wrote last week that, “According to a recent study by the Progressive Policy Institute, the number ...

Analysts Mislead in Their Push to Weaken FDA’s Produce Rule

by Michael Patoka | August 27, 2013
In January of this year, the Food & Drug Administration proposed a rule on produce safety, as required by the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The rule would establish comprehensive standards designed to prevent foodborne illnesses linked to fruits, vegetables, and nuts—like the ongoing Cyclospora outbreak that has sickened 630 people so far, or the 159 cases of Hepatitis A caused by imported pomegranate seeds. Sofie Miller and Cassidy West, two analysts from the George Washington University Regulatory Studies ...

Competitive Chemical Regulation: A Greener Alternative

by Wendy Wagner | August 26, 2013
In 2005, the City of Austin discovered that coal-tar based asphalt sealant was killing the highly endangered Barton Springs salamander. The sealant was leaching off freshly sealed parking lots and entering downstream pools where these fragile animals live. The surprise ending to the City’s detective work was not only that the sealant was gradually destroying its river system but also that other asphalt sealants were far safer. More specifically, when the City investigated the market, it learned that there were other sealants that ...

OSHA Announces Proposed Silica Rule – Let’s Keep it Rolling

by Thomas McGarity | August 23, 2013
After more than two years of White House review, OSHA has finally published its proposed new standards for silica exposure. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Assistant Secretary David Michaels, and many other people both inside and outside the agency deserve congratulations for finally shaking the proposal loose from the clutches of the president’s regulatory review team in OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The publication of the proposal is an important step towards protecting millions of Americans who are exposed to ...

CPR President Rena Steinzor: Regulatory Backlogs Threatens Health and the Environment

by Erin Kesler | August 23, 2013
Yesterday, The Hill published an opinion piece by Center for Progressive Reform President Rena Steinzor entitled, "Regulatory backlog threatens health and the environment." According to Steinzor: Opponents of regulation also seek to undermine the very legitimacy of agency rulemaking by fostering public hostility toward government and belittling life-saving regulation as “red tape.” What results is the gross politicization of the regulatory process, resulting in long delays and weaker rules, as measured in lives and health. For example, the cost of ...

CPR's Verchick to Testify before California's Little Hoover Commission

by Matthew Freeman | August 21, 2013
Update: Verchick's testimony is here. On Thursday, August 22, CPR Member Scholar Robert R.M. Verchick will testify before California's "Little Hoover Commission" about land-use planning to address the threat of climate change. The Commission is conducting a study of climate-change-adaptation efforts in the state, and Verchick, a professor at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and a former EPA official, will bring his expertise in environmental regulation, climate change adaptation and disaster law to the table. We'll post his testimony to ...

BP Flouts the Rule of Law (Yet Again)

by Rena Steinzor | August 19, 2013
Like no other mammoth corporation that did very bad things—not Enron, not WorldCom, not Exxon, and not even HSBC (which, after all, laundered money for the Mexican drug cartel and was allowed to pay a fine without pleading guilty!)—BP has not lost its arrogant swagger. In a fit of high dudgeon it filed a lawsuit last week challenging the one step the federal government has taken that could actually hurt the company over the long run: the long-overdue debarment of this ...

A Comic Book Sparks Kids Toward Environmental Justice

by Rebecca Bratspies | August 15, 2013
This blog is cross-posted on The Nature of Cities. In my first blog post for The Nature of Cities, I wrote about environmental justice as a bridge between traditional environmentalism and an increasingly urban global population. I suggested that we had work to do to makes environmental concerns salient to a new, ever-more urban generation. Since then, I have been working to test this hypothesis. To that end, I developed an environmental justice education project being implemented in New York City schools. ...

Do you want overworked inspectors in charge of your meat’s safety?

by Celeste Monforton | August 13, 2013
More than 400 inspectors with the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) worked, on average, more than 120 hours each two-week pay period.    Those were the findings of the agency’s Inspector General in an report issued late last month.  Their investigation covered FY 2012, and included field work conducted from November 2012 through February 2013. FSIS inspectors are assigned to more than 6,000 meat, poultry and egg processing plants in the U.S.  They are responsible for ensuring that the product sold ...

The Regulatory Czar’s Recent Blog on Truck Driver Paperwork and the West, Texas, Tragedy

by James Goodwin | August 12, 2013
Last week, Regulatory Czar Howard Shelanski embarked on his maiden voyage into the glamorous world of White House blogging, penning a post that touts the latest burden-reducing accomplishment of President Obama’s dubious regulatory “look-back” initiative.   On this auspicious occasion, he trumpets the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposed rulemaking to reduce the number of inspection reports that commercial truck drivers have to file, resulting in reduced paperwork burden costs to the tune of $1.7 billion annually. Shelanski makes clear in the ...

Nebraska Activists Making a Difference in the Keystone XL Fight

by Sandra Zellmer | August 12, 2013
A Nebraskan activist?  Wait, you say, isn’t that an oxymoron?  But the typically stoic, non-litigious citizens of Nebraska are indeed standing up and taking notice, and the nation is starting to take notice of them. A few days ago, a Washington Post headline predicted, “Nebraska trial could delay Keystone XL pipeline.”  As you may already know from the news and my previous blogs, the State Department released a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) on the pipeline in March.  It initiated this supplemental review to ...

Pushing back against anti-regulatory forces, safety and environmental protections long overdue

by Celeste Monforton | August 06, 2013
Finally!  After far too much hullabaloo about the cost of regulations, there was a U.S. Senate hearing today on why public health regulations are important, and how delays by Congress and the Administration have serious negative consequences for people’s lives.  Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called the hearing entitled “Justice Delayed: The Human Cost of Regulatory Paralysis,” the first one conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s newly created Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights and Agency Action.  The witnesses included a parent-turned advocate for ...

President Obama’s Executive Order on Chemical Facility Safety Is a Step in the Right Direction

by Thomas McGarity | August 02, 2013
Yesterday President Obama signed an executive order, entitled “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security,” that is designed to get state, federal and local chemical safety agencies and first responders to improve coordination, information gathering, and regulation with respect to the risks posed by the many highly reactive chemical compounds that are stored and used throughout the United States. Inspired by the tragic explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas on April 17 of this year, the Executive Order establishes ...

Senate Hearing to Bring Some Sanity to the Debate Over Federal Regulatory Policy

by James Goodwin | July 31, 2013
Tomorrow, a new panel in the Senate Judiciary Committee—the Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights, and Agency Action—will bring some much-need sanity to the discussion of federal regulatory policy when it holds a hearing entitled “Justice Delayed: The Human Cost of Regulatory Paralysis.” What’s so refreshing about this hearing is that it starts from the premise that blocked and delayed safeguards are a problem that needs to be solved.  Crucially, this hearing will provide an opportunity to shine a light on the ...

CPR Scholar Tom McGarity to Testify at Senate Hearing on Toxic Chemical Reform

by Thomas McGarity | July 31, 2013
This morning, CPR Member Scholar Tom McGarity testifies at the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works on "Strengthening Public Health Protections by Addressing Toxic Chemical Threats." His testimony can be found in full here. McGarity contributed the following blog post in advance of the hearing.  The Chemical Safety Improvement Act: The Wrong Way to Fix a Broken Federal Statute We live in an era in which human health and the environment are threatened by toxic chemicals that have not ...

New CPR Issue Alert on TSCA Reform: Progressive Principles for Toxic Risk Regulation

by Matt Shudtz | July 31, 2013
Today, Senator Boxer’s Environment and Public Works committee will hold a hearing to discuss the best ways to fix the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the badly outdated law governing some 80,000 chemicals used in commerce in the United States. Communities across the country are not aware of the dangers present in chemicals in everything from baby bottles to face creams, with little to no regulation because of weak TSCA legislation passed over 40 years ago. Strong toxic chemical regulation ...

Robert Verchick: Will the White House stall its own climate change plans?

by Erin Kesler | July 30, 2013
Last week, The Hill published an opinion piece by Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar Robert Verchick. The piece entitled, "Politics and progress: Will the White House stall its own climate change plans?" can be read here. According to Verchick: Under its statutory authority, EPA has ample power to write rules limiting power plant emissions, for example. But since the Reagan administration, all “major” rules—those seen as important to national policy—have been funneled into a little-known process of review, conducted ...

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

Steinzor: Trump's reform won't stop mass incarceration

Freeman | Dec 21, 2017 | Good Government

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