Governor Romney's Illegal Proposal for REINS-Lite -- Presidents Don't Get to Use Executive Orders to Rewrite Statutes

by Richard Murphy | August 07, 2012

Governor Romney claims that burdensome regulations are an immense but hidden tax holding back the American economy. As proof for this proposition, he cites the study on regulatory costs sponsored by the Small Business Administration – a study that’s been debunked by a CPR white paper, the Congressional Research Service, and others. Romney lays out some solutions to this supposed problem in Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growthissued in September of last year.  One of these ideas is to require affirmative congressional approval of all major rules. 

People who drop by CPR’s website likely know that Republicans have already tried to pass legislation to this effect in the form of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. The bill passed the House in late 2011, but has gone nowhere in the Senate.  Proponents of the REINS Act like to cast it as a matter of legislative accountability, but the real impetus behind this proposed legislation is to block agencies from regulating by entrusting the fate of rules to a Congress where anti-regulatory forces will likely control at least one choke point. The REINS Act itself, however, can only devastate regulation if it becomes law, and this will probably happen only if the Republicans retain the House, grab the Senate and defang the filibuster, and seize the Presidency.  Governor Romney has therefore made alternative arrangements. In his plan, he promises, if elected, ...

EPA's New Framework for Human Health Risk Assessment: Clean Science Versus Dirty Costs and Benefits

by Matt Shudtz | August 06, 2012
Last month, EPA published for public comment a draft “framework” for human health risk assessment.  It is the culmination of years of work done by EPA staff who are part of the Risk Assessment Forum, a select team of experts from various offices throughout the agency whose efforts were overseen by the Office of the Science Advisor.  Billed as a response to the National Research Council’s Science and Decisions:  Advancing Risk Assessment (a.k.a. the “Silver Book”), the Framework really only ...

Cass Sunstein's Departure

by Rena Steinzor | August 03, 2012
The White House today announced the departure of Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. CPR President Rena Steinzor issued the following statement:   Cass Sunstein brought impressive credentials and a personal relationship with the President to his job as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. But in the final analysis, Sunstein has continued the Bush Administration’s tradition of using the office to block needed health and safety protections disliked by big ...

The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act, as Critiqued by Co-Sponsor Susan Collins and Me

by Rena Steinzor | August 01, 2012
Talk about trying to fix the wrong problem: Senators Mark Warner, Rob Portman, and Susan Collins have introduced a bill today that seeks to move the rulemaking process further away from agency experts and transparency and more toward hidden corners of the White House, where well-heeled industries can buy access and push political operatives to block rules. The bill at hand is the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act. In a press release and accompanying fact sheet today, the senatorial trio ...

Romney's Views About Climate Policy: A Detailed Timeline

by Daniel Farber | July 31, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. There has been considerable discussion of Governor Romney's views about the causes of climate change and about policies such as cap and trade.  It's not easy, however, to find detailed documentation.  For that reason, I've assembled as much information as I could find about what Romney has said and done over the years, with links to sources (including video or original documents when I could find them). Jan. 2003.  Romney takes office as Governor of Massachusetts. ...

New White Paper: How Should Government Facilitate Climate Change Adaptation Efforts in the Private Sector?

by Yee Huang | July 31, 2012
Today CPR releases a new briefing paper exploring how the government can encourage, facilitate, and even demand actions from the different parts of the private sector to adapt to the changing climate. The paper is based on ideas discussed at a workshop CPR co-sponsored earlier this year at the University of North Carolina School of Law, which brought together academics, non-profit and business representatives, and government officials to wrestle with how government might positively shape the private sector response to ...

Planting the Seeds of the Future: The Plant Genetic Resources Treaty

by John Knox | July 26, 2012
a(broad) perspective Today’s post is the sixth in a series on a recent CPR white paper, Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership: Why the United States Should Ratify Ten Pending Environmental Treaties.  Each month, this series will discuss one of these treaties.  Previous posts are here. International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization on November 3, 2001 Entered into Force on June 29, 2004 Number of Parties: 127 Signed by the United ...

Member Scholar John Knox Appointed to United Nations Post on Human Rights and the Environment

by Rena Steinzor | July 25, 2012
CPR Member Scholar John Knox has been appointed the U.N. Human Rights Council’s first Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment. The position was created in March with a mandate to study the relationship of human rights and the environment, and prepare a series of reports to the Human Rights Council over the next three years. The mission will be to “identify, promote and exchange views on best practices relating to the use of human rights obligations and commitments ...

The Conundrum of Responding to Crippling Drought: Help Now or Reduce Future Vulnerability?

by Robert Adler | July 24, 2012
The relentless heat wave that has plagued much of the country this summer, along with an accompanying paucity of rain, have plunged vast swaths of the United States into the most crippling drought in decades. Corn crops and now soy crops are withering, and commodity prices have risen dramatically. That could signal a sharp rise in domestic food prices just as the elections approach this fall, shocks to world grain markets fueled in large part by U.S exports, and significant ...

Don't Knock EPA's Knack for NAAQS

by Daniel Farber | July 23, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit decided American Petroleum Institute (API) v. EPA, an interesting case dealing with nitrogen oxide (NO2) levels. The standard is supposed to include a margin of safety.Under the Clean Air Act, EPA sets National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for airborne substances that endanger human health or welfare. EPA set such a standard for NO2 in 1971 and finally got around to revising the standard in 2010. The innovation in the new ...

CPR White Paper: The Next OSHA -- Progressive Reforms to Empower Workers

by Thomas McGarity | July 19, 2012
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is one of the surviving monuments of the era of progressive social legislation (extending from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s) during which Congress enacted the nation’s foundational health, safety and environmental laws. That statute empowered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to write safety and health standards designed “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions.” A separate “general duty ...

White House Now Not Sure it is Interested at All in Public's Ideas for Strengthening Existing Rules

by Ben Somberg | July 18, 2012
The White House’s message on its program for retrospectively reviewing existing regulations just shifted a little further away from recognizing the need for protective regulations for health, safety, and the environment. First the White House said it was interested in "expanding" certain existing regulations, if appropriate. Then it said it was interested in hearing ideas from the public on expanding regulations, but officially considers those ideas to be a lower priority than ideas that would weaken regulations. Now today, a ...

FDA Takes Baby Step Toward Protecting the Public from BPA

by Aimee Simpson | July 18, 2012
Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would amend an existing food additive regulation to prohibit the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in “infant feeding bottles (baby bottles) and spill-proof cups, including their closures and lids, designed to help train babies and toddlers to drink from cups (sippy cups).”  BPA, a chemical commonly added to polycarbonate resins (a fancy word for plastics), continues to raise concerns over its low-dose, endocrine-disrupting health effects.  Despite these health and ...

Climate Strategies: "One Step at a Time" or "Don't Jump the Gun"??

by Daniel Farber | July 17, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. In some situations, voluntary efforts leads other people to join in, whereas in others, it encourages them to hold back.  There’s a similar issue about climate mitigation efforts at the national, regional, or state level.  Do these efforts really move the ball forward?  Or are they counterproductive, because other places increase their own carbon emissions or lose interest in negotiating? A common sense reaction is that every ton of reduced carbon emissions means one less ton in ...

Federalism at Work: Recent Developments in Public Trust Lawsuits to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions

by Alexandra Klass | July 13, 2012
In a CPRBlog post in May 2011, I discussed the lawsuits filed on behalf of children against all 50 states and several federal agencies alleging that these governmental entities have violated the common law public trust doctrine by failing to limit greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.  The suits were filed by Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit. The claims sought judicial declaration that states have a fiduciary duty to future generations with regard to an “atmospheric trust” ...

D.C. Circuit Rejects Developers' Claim that EPA Must Form Small Business Panel

by Lee Ewing | July 12, 2012
In a case that could have far reaching implications for agencies subject to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the D.C. Circuit Court last month held that an EPA decision not to convene a small business advocacy review panel before issuing a rule was not judicially reviewable.  The decision by Judge Merrick Garland, for a unanimous 3-judge panel, was in National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) v. EPA. NAHB challenged the EPA’s change of course on an “opt-out” provision of a rule ...

Fish for the Future: Our Health and Livelihoods Depend on It

by Catherine O'Neill | July 11, 2012
When environmental agencies set standards limiting toxic pollution in our waters, they theoretically aim to protect people who are exposed to these toxics by eating fish.  Currently, Washington state’s water quality standards protect only those who consume no more than one fish meal per month.  That means that those of us who eat more fish than this do so at our peril.     Washington’s Department of Ecology had announced some years back that it intended to update the fish ...

The Romney Website's Circular Blame Game

by Daniel Farber | July 09, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. The Romney website portrays regulation as a huge drag on the economy. But it can’t decide who’s to blame. Is it all Obama’s fault? Or not just Obama, but a whole succession of Presidents, many of them presumably Republicans? Or is it bureaucrats who have overpowered all of these Presidents? The website goes around in circles, embracing each of these theories even though they contradict each other. The website begins by placing the blame on developments ...

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