It's Time to Regulate Energy Drinks

by Thomas McGarity | October 25, 2012

In the week before Christmas last year, 14-year-old Anais Fournier went to Valley Mall in Hagerstown, Maryland with some friends.  While there she purchased and consumed a 24-ounce can of an energy drink manufactured by the Monster Beverage Corporation.  She returned to the mall the next day and consumed another Monster energy drink.  Later that evening, while she was watching a movie at home with her boyfriend, she went into cardiac arrest. She died four days later on the day before Christmas Eve.  An autopsy concluded that she had died of “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.”

Thanks to the efforts of her mother to get to the bottom of the matter, Anais’s untimely death may stimulate new efforts to regulate sports drinks and other potentially dangerous dietary supplements and to hold companies accountable in courts of law for their irresponsible marketing strategies.

Anais’s mother was convinced that the Monster energy drinks caused her daughter’s death.  Last week, she and Anais’s father filed a lawsuit against the company, and on Monday the New York Times published documents she received in response to her Freedom of Information request for FDA’s adverse event reports on Monster drinks.  It turns out that FDA had received reports of five deaths caused by those drinks since 2009.  These reports are by no means definitive, and they do not establish a cause-effect relationship between the consumption of highly caffeinated sports drinks and increased mortality risk ...

The Bizarre Story of the Phantom Job Gains from Romney's Deregulation Plan

by Daniel Farber | October 24, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Deregulation is one of Mitt Romney’s five steps in his plan to add jobs.  But how do we supposedly know that deregulation will add jobs?  It’s a fascinating story, featuring a Nobel laureate’s economic model.  The model is very fancy, lots of complex math, but it’s justified on the basis of a discredited study. The story begins with a new white paper from the Romney campaign. Four leading economists attempt to provide an explanation of the ...

Clean Water Act at 40, Roundup Edition

by Ben Somberg | October 19, 2012
Here’s a final compilation of our posts on the Clean Water Act at 40: William Andreen: The Clean Water Act at 40: Finishing a Task Well Begun Dan Tarlock: Forty Years Later, Time to Turn in the CWA Clunker for Something Suited for the 21st Century Robin Kundis Craig: The Clean Water Act at 40: Up to the Challenge of the Climate Change Era? Robert Adler: The Clean Water Act at 40: Can We Renew the Vision? Robert Glicksman and ...

Why the Entergy Decision Shouldn't Hobble the Clean Water Act's Future

by Amy Sinden | October 18, 2012
The Clean Water Act turns 40 today.   One of the remarkable things about those four decades is the extent to which the Act has largely withstood repeated attempts by industry to water down its technology-based standard-setting provisions with cost-benefit analysis.   Just three years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Entergy Corp. v. Riverkeeper, environmentalists largely lost one skirmish in this ongoing war, but the legacy of that opinion may actually be less harmful to the statute’s ability to protect ...

ACUS Must Ensure Neutrality and Cease Close Alliances with Industry Groups, Member Scholars Say in Letter

by Michael Patoka | October 18, 2012
CPR President Rena Steinzor and Member Scholar Thomas McGarity sent a letter this morning to Paul Verkuil, Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), taking the independent federal agency to task for its increasingly apparent bias toward the views of industry groups and its troubling alliance with current and former officials at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).  By repeatedly partnering with groups engaged in destructive battles with the agencies that write protective ...

On the Farm and Looking to the Future of the CWA

by Aimee Simpson | October 18, 2012
Last week I visited a dairy farm with my two year-old son.  Complete with hayrides, homemade ice cream, cows mooing, and a bluegrass band, the fall festival provided us with some good, wholesome entertainment.  My son giggled as the baby cows licked his hand, oohed and awed at the fluffy baby chicks, and, of course, consumed the decadent ice cream as if I had not fed him in weeks.  It was a memorable scene for us city-dwellers, but as my ...

The River Ganges Meets Climate Change

by Robert Verchick | October 17, 2012
VARANASI -- We slip into the river at night, and with an easy stroke, our oarsman moves our boat across the chestnut waters of “Mother Ganga,” India’s Ganges River. Spiritual life in Varanasi (also called Benares) is a passion. Hindus all over India save their money for the chance to visit this holy city and bathe in Ganga’s purifying waters. At sunrise, along the string of bathing steps called “ghats,” you’ll see hundreds of people of all shapes and sizes ...

The CWA's Antidegradation Policy: Time to Rejuvenate a Program to Protect High Quality Water

by Sandra Zellmer | October 16, 2012
This post was written by CPR Member Scholars Robert Glicksman and Sandra Zellmer. Visual images of burning rivers, oil-soaked seagulls, and other grossly contaminated resources spurred the enactment of the nation’s foundational environmental laws in the 1970s, including the Clean Water Act (CWA). Similarly, evocative prose like Rachel Carson’s description of the “strange blight” poisoning America’s wildlife due to widespread use of pesticides played a critical role in alerting policymakers and the public to the need for robust legal protections ...

The Clean Water Act at 40: Can We Renew the Vision?

by Robert Adler | October 15, 2012
Congress adopted the “modern” version of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, more commonly known as the “Clean Water Act,” forty years ago this week (Pub. L. No. 92-500, Oct. 18, 1972). As Congress faces persistent efforts to weaken this law, it is important to take stock of why the law was passed, how well we have met its goals and objectives, and how much is left to accomplish. In the current anti-regulatory climate, it is easy to fall prey ...

The Clean Water Act at 40: Up to the Challenge of the Climate Change Era?

by Robin Kundis Craig | October 15, 2012
There is no question but that the Clean Water Act has led to enormous improvements in water quality throughout the United States. Funding for publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) has largely eliminated the use of the nation's waterways for the disposal of raw sewage. Most point source discharges are now subject to permitting and technology-based and/or water-quality based effluent limitations. There is also no question that the Clean Water Act is a statute that is still evolving to address water ...

Forty Years Later, Time to Turn in the CWA Clunker for Something Suited for the 21st Century

by Dan Tarlock | October 12, 2012
As the Clean Water Act (CWA) turns 40, it is useful to compare it to the cars on the road in 1972. Big cars, some still adorned with tail fins and grills, ruled the road, running on 36 cents per gallon gas.  Forty years later, we look back on the early 70s and ask how could we consider these cars, and what we wore driving them, so cool. Today, we are driving smaller, better engineered and designed fuel efficient cars. ...

Ryan Record on Regulation Includes Voting to Gut Clean Air Act Protections Adopted in Bipartisan 401 to 25 Vote

by James Goodwin | October 11, 2012
The Vice Presidential debate is tonight, and I suspect that, among other things, we’ll hear Paul Ryan give some general talk of “reducing red tape” or “reducing government burdens on job creators.”  We probably won’t hear a pitch for blocking air pollution rules that would save thousands of lives—which, after all, doesn’t poll well.  But that’s exactly what Ryan has voted for, over and over. Representative Ryan’s record on regulations and the environment has received relatively little attention outside an ...

Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Pollution Controls for Timber Industry; EPA and Congress Try to Preempt Courts

by Nicholas Vidargas | October 10, 2012
Imagine the ecosystem in which salmon evolved and thrived in the Northwest.  As the region’s celebrated rain falls through old-growth forest, it is filtered through duff as it makes its way to one of thousands of pristine streams.  It is in those cold, clear waters that salmon begin their lives among rock and pebble, the product of their parents’ long journey from the sea, a journey they too will make in years to come.  But in modern times, those salmon ...

The Clean Water Act at 40: Finishing a Task Well Begun

by William Andreen | October 09, 2012
This post is first in a series marking the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. On October 18th, the nation will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.  This landmark piece of legislation has proven remarkably successful.  Water pollution discharges from both industry and municipal sewer systems have declined sharply, the loss of wetlands has been cut decisively, and water quality has broadly improved across the country.  The Clean Water Act is, in short, a real success ...

Obama Event Monday Honoring Farmworkers Comes Just Months After Administration Jettisoned Key Farmworker Safety Rule

by Rena Steinzor | October 07, 2012
President Obama travels to Keene, California, on Monday to designate the home of César E. Chávez as a national monument—a worthy honor for a key figure in the ongoing push for safe working conditions and fair pay. One thing the President is unlikely to raise in his remarks is that just a few months ago, his administration took the side of big agriculture against the safety of farmworkers. In April, White House staff jettisoned a key Department of Labor (DOL) proposal ...

New CPR Issue Brief: Regulatory 'Pay-Go' Caps Protections but Not Harms to the Public

by Sidney Shapiro | October 02, 2012
When the government succeeds in protecting the public from harms, is that good news – or something to be atoned for by eliminating other successful protections? If the Department of Labor issues a new rule on construction crane safety, saving dozens of lives each year, should the agency also be required to eliminate an existing safety regulation? A policy of regulatory “pay-go” would prohibit agencies from issuing new rules, no matter how beneficial they are, unless they first identify and ...

Kiobel Returns!

by John Knox | September 28, 2012
Remember Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, argued before the Supreme Court last term?  It’s back – the Court will hear argument again Monday – and bigger than before.  A brief recap:  For decades, Shell has extracted oil from the Niger Delta, causing extensive environmental degradation.  The government of Nigeria, with the alleged support of Shell, cracked down on protests by the local residents, the Ogoni tribe, by executing their leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight others in 1995.  Members of the ...

Fifth Circuit's Reversal on Katrina Litigation Leaves Flood Victims Gasping for Air

by Robert Verchick | September 27, 2012
I’ll forego reporting on India today to address a new development in the post-Hurricane Katrina litigation: Judge Jerry Smith’s breathless hairpin turn in the “Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation.” On Monday, Judge Smith, writing for a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, dismissed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood damage during Hurricane Katrina, a case that could have exposed the federal government to billions of dollars in damages over the next several ...

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