Executive Review of Regulation in Obama's Second Term

by Matthew Freeman | January 28, 2013

CPR Member Scholar David Driesen of Syracuse University has an op-ed in the January 28 Syracuse Post-Standard making the case that the President should reinvigorate his regulatory agenda, in part by diminishing the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs' power to stifle regulations. He puts the argument in the context of the pressing need for action on climate change, writing:

Obama should put an end to obstructionist OIRA review in light of the urgency of climate disruption and the failures this review has led to. Specifically, he should issue an executive order requiring prompt regulation of major sources of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, including a schedule for prompt rulemaking. This order should direct OIRA to work to speed and strengthen environmental, health and safety standards. He should also abolish OIRA's authority to review minor standards, since such reviews waste scarce government resources excessively analyzing cheap measures to protect people from important threats.

Finally, he should order OIRA to stop demanding cost-benefit analysis of proposed environmental, health and safety protections. We cannot reliably compare the value of human life or a preserved ecosystem to the costs of regulation. Key uncertainties often make quantification of the number of deaths and illnesses or the magnitude of ecological destruction addressed through environmental standards impossible....

We barely made it through the first round of the 'fiscal cliff battle,' but we will still face an ongoing climate crisis unless ...

Exempting Climate Mitigation from OIRA Review

by David Driesen | January 24, 2013
Cross-posted from RegBlog. Nobody seems to have noticed, but the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) recently recommended abolition of review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) based on cost-benefit analysis (CBA). Its report on recommendations for the second Obama Administration made this proposal the sixth item in a list of seven executive orders that Obama could issue with a "Stroke of the Pen" (from the report’s title). In place of CBA-based review, which has often stymied or delayed needed environmental ...

Climate Economics: The State of the Art

by Frank Ackerman | January 23, 2013
Cross-posted from Triple Crisis. Climate science paints an ever-more-detailed picture: irreversible, catastrophic events are becoming increasingly likely as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Climate economics, particularly in its policy applications, lags behind: leading models and analyses frequently ignore the extreme risks and the intergenerational aspect of the problem – and rely on simplistic and dated interpretations of the underlying science. Yet the state of the art has progressed rapidly, in the research literature on climate economics as well as ...

NEPA Section 102(1): A Useful (Yet Rarely Used) Tool for Public Interest Environmental Lawyers

by Joel Mintz | January 22, 2013
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) was one of the first environmental statutes of the modern era. Best known for its environmental impact statement (EIS) requirement, and for establishing the Council on Environmental Quality, NEPA has been the basis for numerous lawsuits challenging federal government projects that will or may have an adverse impact on the human environment. Despite that fact, however, one brief, yet potentially crucial, portion of the statute has been all but overlooked by environmental ...

A Victory for American Coal Miners; A Small Measure of Justice for the Victims of the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster

by James Goodwin | January 18, 2013
Yesterday, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) finalized the long overdue Pattern of Violations rule, a measure that will enhance the agency’s enforcement authority by making it easier for the agency to hold scofflaw mines strictly accountable for repeatedly and needlessly putting their workers at risk of chronic illness, severe injury, or even death.  The deterrent effect of this enhanced enforcement authority will discourage delinquent mine operators from cutting corners on health and safety, a development that will produce ...

Ken Salazar's Mixed Legacy

by Dan Rohlf | January 17, 2013
Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar will leave a decidedly mixed legacy from his four years at the helm of the federal department responsible for protecting many of America’s vast open spaces, treasured parks, and disappearing wildlife.  Salazar’s Interior Department enjoyed some high-profile successes and on occasion took action to better protect important resources. It reached a multi-billion dollar settlement in the long-running and contentious Cobell litigation, a massive class action suit by Indian tribal members over government mismanagement of revenue ...

FDA's New Produce Safety Rules: Somewhat Less Than Meets the Eye

by Thomas McGarity | January 14, 2013
When I teach my environmental law and food safety law students how to go about ascertaining the meaning of implementing regulations, I tell them to start with the sections of the regulations devoted to definitions and exemptions.  Quite frequently the most hard-fought controversies during the rulemaking process through which the agency promulgated the regulations were over the definitions and exemptions.  That certainly seems to be true in the case of the long-awaited Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed “Standards for ...

CPR Report: Rise in Contract Labor Brings New Worker Safety Threats, Demands New Government Policies in Several Dangerous Industries

by Ben Somberg | January 11, 2013
Just how accountable is an employer to an employee if the employee is only working for one day? In areas from construction to farm work, warehouse labor to hotel housekeeping, contingent work is growing or already common. Rather than hire permanent, full-time employees directly, many employers hire workers indirectly through 3rd party agencies, or on contracts as short as a day. Too often, workers in these fields see little job security, low wages, minimal opportunities for advancement, and, all too ...

An Important Stormwater Case -- and It's Not the One You're Thinking of

by Dave Owen | January 10, 2013
Cross-posted from Environmental Law Prof Blog. Last week, a federal district court in Virginia decided an urban stormwater case that may ultimately have far more significance than the Supreme Court’s more widely-watched decision in Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council.  The case is Virginia Department of Transportation v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and it involves a challenge to a proxy TMDL for Accotink Creek, a Potomac River tributary in northern Virginia.  On its face, that statement may not sound ...

How the LA County Flood Control District MS4 Case SCOTUS Loss is a Win for the Clean Water Act

by William Buzbee | January 08, 2013
The Supreme Court ruled today that the 9th Circuit committed a legal error in holding the Los Angeles County Flood Control District liable for violations of its Clean Water Act (CWA) “municipal separate storm sewer system” (or MS4) pollution discharge permit. The suit, Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council, had been initiated by NRDC and allied environmental groups, and its victory below was reversed.   A loss for the environment? Actually, the careful and narrow Supreme Court ruling ...

EPA on the Right Track for Addressing Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals, but Should be Wary of Potential Detours

by Aimee Simpson | January 08, 2013
A year ago this month, CPR published a white paper that laid out a two-phased action plan for federal agencies to take some critical steps toward protecting the public from Bisphenol-A (BPA). The report provided both short-term and long-term action items for the EPA, FDA, and OSHA that could establish stronger safeguards, risk assessment practices, and warning mechanisms for families and consumers concerning BPA and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals.  We said an underlying requirement for both short-term and long-term action items ...

The Long Goodbye: On Seeing the Sundarban Islands

by Robert Verchick | January 04, 2013
The Ganges River begins at the foot of the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas and culminates at the Sundarbans Delta, a massive sprawl of swamps, lakes, and scores of islands. (Find an earlier post on the Ganges here.) It’s the largest river delta in the world—home to endangered Bengal tigers, miles of mangroves, and nearly 12 million people (4.5 million on the Indian side and 7.5 million on the Bangladeshi side). A student of the Mississippi River Delta, I had ...

Using Executive Orders to Move the Agenda

by Matthew Freeman | December 27, 2012
CPR's Rena Steinzor and Amy Sinden have an op-ed in this morning's Baltimore Sun urging President Obama to make aggressive use of Executive Orders leading to regulation action to protect health, safety and the environment.  They write: Barack Obama's ambitions are clear. He came to office in 2009 on the strength of a far-reaching, progressive agenda that included resurrecting the economy, rebuilding the American middle class, ending one war, winning another, stopping the Bush-era tax giveaways to the rich, fixing ...

D.C. Circuit Denies Rehearing in Endangerment Case

by Daniel Farber | December 21, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Six months ago, the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare, triggering coverage under the Clean Air Act.  On Thursday, the full court denied rehearing to the three-judge panel’s decision.  There were only two dissents, which obviously were hoping to set the stage for a cert. petition to the Supreme Court.  The dissents provide a preview of the kinds of arguments that will be made to the Supreme Court. One key point ...

Sweating the Small Stuff: Indian Villages Plan for Climate Change

by Robert Verchick | December 18, 2012
In October, I wrote about the city of Surat, the diamond-polishing capital of India, and its battle against climate change.  Recently I had the chance to visit another municipality working on adaptation, a place known more for its postage stamp farms and wandering livestock than jewelry and textiles. It’s called Gorakhpur, and is located in the flood-prone state of Uttar Pradesh, near the India-Nepal border. I first visited Gorakhpur nearly 25 years ago--when I was a long-haired backpacker and Gorakhpur ...

Mercatus Center OSHA Report Rehashes Discredited Free Market Nostrums

by Thomas McGarity | December 17, 2012
This post was written by Member Scholar Thomas O. McGarity and Senior Policy Analyst Matt Shudtz. The Mercatus Center has recently published a report on OSHA that simply rehashes the same old discredited arguments that industry apologists in academia and think tanks have been making for thirty years.  Not surprisingly, they reach the conclusion that voluntary compliance programs and worker education efforts are better uses of OSHA’s limited resources than rulemaking and enforcement. The report contains no original research, and ...

AP Says Administration "Unleashes New Rules;" Mostly Finds Examples of Rules Not Unleashed

by Amy Sinden | December 14, 2012
Cross-posted from ThinkProgress. “Election over, administration unleashes new rules,” trumpeted an Associated Press story this week. What are these newly unleashed rules? Perhaps the big food safety rules that have been stalled for more than a year have gone through? Rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants? Long-awaited rules to protect coal miners’ safety? Not quite. In fact, the AP strained to come up with just tiny examples: “[T]he Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rules to update water quality ...

Jane Lubchenco's Legacy at NOAA

by Holly Doremus | December 14, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco has announced that she will leave her post at the end of February. Her letter to NOAA employees, reprinted in the Washington Post, cites the difficulty of maintaining a bi-coastal family life. Dr. Lubchenco, a distinguished marine biologist, has put in four years at the helm of NOAA, as much time as reasonably could be expected. She was one of President Obama’s earliest nominees, named before his inauguration as part of a ...

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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