As Good as a Stopped Clock: The House does Transparency
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 change would have to applaud the result: a higher carbon price means that cost-benefit analyses will place a greater value on policies that reduce emissions.
And anyone who cares about democracy should be appalled at the process: are we entering an era in which major regulatory decisions are made anonymously, in secret, with no opportunity for review?
The work of the anonymous task force is a mixture of sophisticated analysis and really bad, arbitrary choices. Three climate-economic models were each applied to five scenarios (derived from other models), and the 15 results were averaged. No persuasive arguments were presented for the controversial choices of models or scenarios; that’s just how the anonymous task force wanted to do it.
Lots of people had comments and criticisms after the first round – and in response, the anonymous task force redux changed nothing whatsoever in its methodology. The increase in the estimated cost
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
CPR's Heinzerling Reacts to President's Climate Change Speech
At a speech this afternoon at Georgetown University, President Obama outlined a series of aggressive steps aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing the nation to adapt to the now unavoidable effects of climate change. Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar Lisa Heinzerling issued the following reaction: The President’s speech offered exactly what many of us have been waiting to hear from him: A solid commitment to use the tools available to the EPA to finally get the federal
Congressional Briefing: Anti-Regulatory Myths: What Regulatory Critics Don't Tell You
Is the annual cost of federal regulation really $1.75 trillion? Do regulations really hinder job creation and economic growth? Is it true that agencies are free to issue costly regulations without legal authority or political accountability? These are just some of the myths spread by supporters of legislation to further weaken the ability of protector agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to carry out
Three Food Safety Rules Grow Moldy at OIRA, as Import-Related Outbreaks Continue
About 15 percent of all foods we consume are imported. Looking at some particular categories, the numbers are far more striking: imports make up 91 percent of our seafood, 60 percent of our fruits and vegetables, and 61 percent of our honey. Most of these imports come from developing countries that lack any effective health and safety regulation—like China, which has had a seemingly endless run of food safety scandals and yet supplies 50 percent of our apple juice, 80
House Amendment to Farm Bill Would Spur USDA Action on Flawed Poultry Slaughter Rule
Hot on the heels of a USDA Inspector General’s report that highlights the failings of privatizing pork inspection, the House yesterday approved an amendment to the Farm Bill that pressures USDA to institute the same type of system in the poultry slaughter industry. The poultry rule, which we’ve written about in this space before, is not yet in final form, but the poultry industry and its supporters are pushing it in that direction. The Inspector General’s report adds to the
The Lesson of Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann: Water Conservation, not Water Commerce
It’s been more than 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court declared that water is an article of commerce and that Nebraska’s attempts to prevent the export of “its” groundwater to neighboring Colorado violated the dormant Commerce Clause. The high Court did not return directly to the issue until last week’s ruling in Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann.  This time, a unanimous Court ruled againt the would-be exporter--Texas--and its effort to diver a portion of the Kiamichi River
Frank Lautenberg: New Jersey and the Senate Lose a Leader
Later in this space, we plan to discuss the many and varied failings of a proposal in the Senate to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act. Unfortunately, the proposal is the joint work product of conservative Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and liberal Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who died two weeks ago and therefore won’t have the chance to fix the legislation that is so unworthy of his name. But before we take on that misguided proposal, we wanted to pay
CPR Scholar Sandi Zellmer: Senate Passes Wrong-Headed “States’ Water Rights Act” WRDA Amendment to Facilitate N.D. Fracking
The 2013 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), as adopted by the Senate on May 13, S.601, would authorize $12 billion in federal spending on flood protection, dam and levee projects, and port improvements. A new version of WRDA is passed every few years, and it is the primary vehicle for authorizing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ water projects and for implementing changes with respect to the Corps’ water resource policies. S.601 contains several notable provisions, not the least of which
Some Observations from the Howard Shelanski Confirmation Hearing
Yesterday's confirmation hearing for Dr. Howard Shelanski—President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve as the next “Regulatory Czar,” or Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—may have been the “most important hearing in Washington this week,” but it did not produce much in the way of bombshells or drama. Rather, it was a relatively staid affair, which at times had a distinct “going through the motions” vibe. On the positive side, the hearing generated some good
The Obama Administration’s Plan B for Plan B: Compliance, or Defiance?
The Obama Administration’s announcement that it will comply with a district court’s order that it make emergency contraceptives available to all women and girls without a prescription comes as a welcome development in a long-running administrative-law fiasco. But the Administration’s specific suggestions as to how it will set things right, set forth in letters sent yesterday to the district court and to the citizen petitioners who originally asked for nonprescription access to emergency contraceptives, are inadequate in several respects. First, under