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 by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). It may be the most important government office you've never heard of —the depot through which all regulatory freight must pass, the ganglia of the president’s rulemaking.

By executive order, OIRA is required to review submitted agency proposals within 90 days. For the most part, past administrations have kept up the pace. But in the Obama administration, the trains no longer run on time. Of the 136 draft rules under review at OIRA, 72 have been held up for longer than the 90-day limit. Of those, 38 have been stalled for over a year. Nine rules from the Department of Energy have been at OIRA for over two years and deal directly with energy efficiency standards the President himself touted in his 2013 State of the Union address. In his climate address, for example, the President instructed EPA to issue stricter limits on power plant emissions, saying ...

Shelanski Said What During the House Small Business Committee?

by James Goodwin | July 26, 2013
Earlier this week, Regulatory Czar Howard Shelanski testified before the House Small Business committee to update committee members on the progress the Obama Administration has made with the regulatory look-back process established by Executive Orders 13563 and 13610. In one interesting exchange with Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Shelanski offered the following perspective on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ (OIRA) approach to regulatory review: The interpretation of an agency’s statute and the choice of policy—to the extent there is discretion ...

Chemical Safety Board Introduces a Most Wanted List of Reforms to Protect Workers

by Matt Shudtz | July 25, 2013
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, better known as CSB, is held a meeting today to discuss several recommendations and a newly created “Most Wanted Program.” CSB has invited public input, so CPR President Rena Steinzor and I submitted comments to CSB yesterday, urging the agency to target the White House in its advocacy efforts related to the Most Wanted Program. CSB has numerous recommendations that it considers “open” because the target of those recommendations, be it OSHA, another ...

Ash Time Goes By: Administration Continues Foot-Dragging on Coal Ash Rule as Toxic Landfills and Ash Ponds Grow by 94 Million Tons Each Year

by Michael Patoka | July 24, 2013
Further along the Ohio River, there’s a pond literally across the street from a residential neighborhood (see below). It drains millions of gallons of contaminated water into the river under its state permit, to prevent overflow. Not only is the groundwater polluted with dangerous levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and selenium, but the landfill scatters “black soot everywhere” in the words of one resident, who said, “I‘ve lived there for 35 years and all I do is watch people die.” ...

Shelanski to Testify on Regulatory Look-Back, Hopefully with an Update on the Poultry Slaughter Rule

by Matt Shudtz | July 23, 2013
Tomorrow, the new OIRA Administrator, Howard Shelanski, will testify before the House Small Business Committee on the results of the government-wide “look-back” at existing regulations. It will be an opportunity for the Committee’s Republicans to continue their assault on government programs that keep our food safe, air and water clean, and highways fit for travel. Shelanski could follow in his predecessor’s footsteps by trying to assuage the Republicans’ fears with glowing statistics about the allegedly huge savings that are expected to flow from revising ...

The Obama Worker Safety and Health Legacy: The Fifth Inning and the Possibility of a Shutout; A Big Challenge for Tom Perez

by Rena Steinzor | July 22, 2013
The Senate’s grudging confirmation of Tom Perez as Secretary of Labor was the first piece of good news working people have had out of the federal government for quite some time. I know Perez--as a neighbor, a law school colleague, Maryland’s labor secretary, and a civil rights prosecutor. He’s a fearless, smart, and hard-driving public servant—exactly the qualities that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his caucus deplore in Obama appointees. With luck, Perez will be successful in direct proportion to the unprecedented vitriol ...

Downwind States Deserve Protection: Supreme Court’s Review of Decision Gutting Cross-State Pollution Protections Right on Point

by Victor Flatt | July 22, 2013
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, or review of  EME Homer City Generation v. EPA, 696 F.3d 7 (D.C. Cir. 2012), reh’g en banc denied, 2013 WL 656247 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 24, 2013). This is a welcome development, as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals got many things wrong in its tossing out of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSPAR), the follow-up to the previously invalidated Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) which regulated potential cross-state air pollution. For ...

The Strange World of the Small Business Administration

by Daniel Farber | July 19, 2013
When you say “small business,” most people probably imagine a mom-and-pop corner grocery.  Actually, the federal Small Business Administration’s concept of small goes well beyond that.  For instance, it includes a computer business that does up to $25 million per year in business. A convenience store can do $27 million and still be considered “small,” while a grocery store can go up to $30 million. If you’re in parts of the financial sector, you can do $175 million in business ...

Senate's Confirmation of Gina McCarthy as Head of EPA a Welcome Development

by Robert Verchick | July 18, 2013
The Senate's confirmation of Gina McCarthy as head of the Environmental Protection Agency is a welcome development and a signal that Congress and the President are willing to get serious about the Agency's role in protecting the health of all Americans and the affects of climate change on the environment. It won't be easy. Lawmakers seem divided on nearly every issue in this debate. In the past EPA's efforts to protect the environment and public health and safety have sometimes ...

As Good as a Stopped Clock: The House does Transparency

by Frank Ackerman | July 17, 2013
One day in May, climate change got a lot more expensive. The price tag on emissions – the value of the damages done by one more ton of CO2 in the air – used to be a mere $25 or so, in today’s dollars, according to an anonymous government task force that met in secret in 2009-2010. Now it’s $40, according to an anonymous government task force that met in secret in early 2013. Anyone who cares about combating climate ...

Government Seeks Certiorari on Clean Water Act’s Direct Review Provision in EPA v. Friends of the Everglades

by Bill Funk | July 17, 2013
Environmentalists know about the Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Transfer Rule. See 40 CFR § 122.3(i). It states in essence that discharging polluted water from one body of water to another unpolluted body of water is not a discharge of a pollutant under the Clean Water Act. According to the EPA, this action would not be regulated by the Act, because no pollutant is being “added” to the “waters of the United States.” There may be an addition of a pollutant to a ...

Urban Stormwater Runoff: The Residual Designation Authority Bombshell

by Dave Owen | July 16, 2013

Statement of CPR President Rena Steinzor on "Energy Consumer Relief Act" Mark-up

by Erin Kesler | July 10, 2013
This morning, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee is expected to advance the "Energy Consumer Relief Act" for consideration. The Act would allow the head of the Department of Energy to veto any rules promulgated by the EPA with estimated "costs" of over $1 billion.  Center for Progressive Reform President Rena Steinzor testified against the bill in April at a Legislative Hearing.  Below is Steinzor's reaction to the Committee's movement of the Act:  The deceptively named, "Energy Consumer Relief Act" ...

By the Numbers: The Costs of New Regulatory Delays Announced in the Spring 2013 Regulatory Agenda

by James Goodwin | July 09, 2013
  “April showers bring May flowers.” To that well-known spring-related proverb one might soon add “the Spring Regulatory Agenda brings new groundless complaints from corporate interests and their anti-regulatory allies in Congress about so-called regulatory overreach.” Last Wednesday, the Obama Administration issued the 2013 edition of the Spring Regulatory Agenda, one of two documents the President must issue every year (the other is published in the fall) that compiles and summarizes the various regulatory actions that the Administration expects to take in the ...

Mission Critical: Under New Regulatory Czar Shelanski, OIRA Must Begin to Affirmatively Help Reinvigorate the Regulatory System

by James Goodwin | July 03, 2013
Welcome aboard, Administrator Shelanski.  You’re already well into your first week on the job as the head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).    You’ve already received plenty of valuable advice—during your confirmation hearing and from the pages of this blog, among other places—on how you can transform OIRA’s role in the regulatory system so that it’s not a continued impediment to effective government.  For example, many have urged you to end the pattern of long-overdue ...

Anything but Generic: Supreme Court Preemption Opinion Calls for Correction from Congress and the FDA

by Thomas McGarity | July 02, 2013
Lost among the high-profile opinions that the Supreme Court issued during the past two weeks was a case that attracted little media attention, but is of great importance to the millions of Americans who take generic drugs. Karen Bartlett, a secretary for an insurance company filed the lawsuit against generic drug manufacturer Mutual Pharmaceutical Company.  When Karen visited her doctor complaining of shoulder pain, he prescribed Clinoril, one of many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) that are commonly used to treat ...

CPR's John Echeverria's NY Times Op-Ed on Supreme Court's Latest 'Takings' Decision

by Matthew Freeman | June 28, 2013
CPR Member Scholar John Echeverria has an op-ed in Wednesday's New York Times on the Supreme Court's end-of-term decision in a land-use case, Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District. Although the case has been somewhat overlooked amidst the Court's evisceration of the Voting Rights Act, and its landmark decisions on same-sex marriage, it has long-term and critical implications. Echeverria warns that the decision will: result in long-lasting harm to America’s communities. That’s because the ruling creates a perverse incentive ...

Statement by CPR Scholar Sid Shapiro on the Senate's Confirmation of Howard Shelanski as Head of OIRA

by Erin Kesler | June 28, 2013
Last night, the Senate confirmed Howard Shelanski as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget. As we've written about before, the confirmation of Shelanski as head of OIRA comes at a criticial juncture. OIRA is tasked with reviewing rules proposed by federal agencies. Presently,  of the 139 rules under review at OIRA, 71 are well beyond the 90-day review limit imposed by Executive Order 12866.  Below is Center for Progressive Reform Member ...

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