CPR Archive for Rena Steinzor

Lisa Jackson Steps Back (Again) on Boiler MACT: One of the Top 12 Rules Now in Indefinite Limbo. Delay Violates the CAA

by Rena Steinzor | May 18, 2011

This post was written by CPR Member Scholars Rena Steinzor and Catherine O'Neill, and Policy Analyst James Goodwin.

By any reasonable estimation, it should have been a jewel in the EPA’s regulatory crown. Released in February, the EPA’s final Boiler MACT rule (actually, it’s two rules—one addressing large boilers and the other addressing smaller ones) would annually prevent up to nearly 6,600 premature deaths, more than 4,000 non-fatal heart attacks, more than 1,600 cases of acute bronchitis, and more than 313,000 missed work and school days.  The final rule produced these enormous health benefits despite the fact it had been dramatically softened to placate industry critics. Because of these benefits, a recent CPR white paper had identified the Boiler MACT rule as one of the 12 “most critical environmental, health, and safety regulations still in the pipeline.” The EPA had projected that the rule would generate up to $54 billion in benefits at a cost of less than $2 billion; agency projections usually overestimate costs and underestimate benefits, and some benefits defy monetization.

Nevertheless, the EPA seems to treat this critical rule as if it were a source of shame: Monday, the agency announced that it would stay the effective date for the rule indefinitely while it carried out the formal “reconsideration” process for the rule under the Clean Air Act. (For those of you keeping score at home, the effective date was set to be this Friday, May ...

Olympia Snowe, Deregulation, and Her 'Small' Business Cover

by Rena Steinzor | May 03, 2011
This great country of ours is quite fond of its enduring myths: poor kids are able to become rich kids by working hard, the family farm feeds us a nutritious bounty, and small business is the engine that makes our economy sing. When most of us hear that musical phrase—smaaaall business—we think of the local florist, ice cream shop, or shoemaker. How startling, then, to discover that according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) a petroleum refinery employing 1,500 workers is also ...

A Regulatory Czar in the Imperial Tradition: A Look at the Snowe-Coburn Small Business Regulatory Freedom Act

by Rena Steinzor | March 17, 2011
Who’s the most powerful person in the Executive Branch these days, other than the President, the Vice President, their chiefs of staff, and—on any given day—the Secretaries of Defense or State?   If odd Senate bedfellows Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) have their way, the new, genuinely imperial regulatory czar will be one Dr. Winslow Sargeant, chief counsel for advocacy for the Small Business Administration (SBA). Under a plan these two have concocted (and are even trying to include as ...

Thousands of Babies Clapping: Lisa Jackson Brings Mercury Home

by Rena Steinzor | March 16, 2011
My bet is that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will do a little victory dance in her office before going home this evening. She’s earned it. After 20 years of false starts, EPA is issuing today the first proposed rule to control poisonous mercury emissions from power plants. They’re doing it despite a concerted blast of coal company and electric utility lobbying at the upper levels of the White House. Jackson’s achievement is testimony to her exemplary leadership of EPA in ...

As House Agriculture Committee Takes on the Chesapeake Bay Restoration, EPA Has the Law on Its Side

by Rena Steinzor | March 16, 2011
This morning a House Agriculture subcommittee will hold a hearing to "review the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, agricultural conservation practices, and their implications on national watersheds." Observers should be prepared for a trip to an alternate world. The Chesapeake Bay has suffered for decades now because of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment pollution. Once-abundant fish, blue crab, and oyster populations plummeted, and local economies built around them have paid the price. Repeated state pledges to reduce the pollution and restore the Bay ...

The Chamber Rides Again: Crazy Costs, Mythical Benefits

by Rena Steinzor | March 11, 2011
Not to be outdone by the Small Business Administration’s aptly named Office of Advocacy, the Chamber of Commerce has issued its own breathless report on how many jobs we could save if we did away with environmental, land use, and utility regulations. Crunching a bunch of dubious numbers, the SBA Office of Advocacy’s consultants, Nicole and Mark Crain, claim that regulations cost $1.75 trillion a year, a number several of my CPR colleagues thoroughly debunked in a report issued in ...

Steinzor Testifies at E&C Hearing on Environmental Regulation, the Economy, and Jobs

by Rena Steinzor | February 15, 2011
CPR President Rena Steinzor is testifying at 1pm today before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. The hearing will be the latest in a string attempting to make a case that public health and safety protections must be weakened right now given the state of the economy. In her testimony, Steinzor argues: I appreciate that the majority feels it has a mandate as a result of the election. But I would urge all Members to ...

The Issa Letters: Republicans Go Hunting for Regulations

by Rena Steinzor | February 10, 2011
GOP leaders in the House of Representatives will push a resolution today directing the various committees of the House to “inventory and review existing, pending, and proposed regulations and orders from agencies of the federal government, particularly with respect to their effect on jobs and economic growth.” Thus begins what Republicans and their industry friends hope will be a productive hunting season in the rich woods of regulatory safeguards that protect public health, worker and consumer safety, and the environment. Not ...

EPA's Leisurely Timeline on Perchlorate Announcement Leaves Effort Vulnerable to Being Undercut

by Rena Steinzor | February 02, 2011
Today's announcement by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that EPA will move toward regulating perchlorate, reversing a decision by the George W. Bush Administration, is bittersweet. It’s great that EPA has recognized the need to regulate, but the agency has adopted such a leisurely timeline that the entire effort could end up being undercut. The agency said: "EPA intends to publish the proposed regulation and analyses for public review and comment within 24 months. EPA will consider the public comments and ...

The GOP Majority Weighs in on Regulatory Reform

by Rena Steinzor | January 26, 2011
On Capitol Hill this morning, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is holding a hearing on what it describes as the “Views of the Administration on Regulatory Reform.” The star witness will be Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, better known as the “regulatory czar” of the Obama Administration. As you might have read already in this space, last week the President launched a new regulatory initiative in which ...

The Problem with Saccharin

by Rena Steinzor | January 18, 2011
President Obama’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning touted EPA’s “deregulation” of the artificial sweetener saccharin as a positive development for America. Inadvertently, the president made EPA look silly for having regulated the stuff in the first place. The use of this example was also unfortunate because EPA’s decision to deregulate had little consequence. Here’s the back story. Beginning in the 1970s, scientists discovered that if you feed large quantities of saccharin to rats, they develop cancer. As a result, products containing ...

President Obama Moves to the Right on Regulation; Appeasing Business Has Real Life Costs

by Rena Steinzor | January 18, 2011
Sixteen months ago, President Obama stood in the well of Congress and issued a ringing call for a progressive vision of government. Working to persuade Members of Congress to adopt health care reform, he said that “large-heartedness…is part of the American character.  Our ability to stand in other people's shoes. A recognition that we are all in this together; that when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand.” Many took comfort from that vision, the ...

Deepwater Horizon Spill Commission Waivers on Self-Regulation, Endorses Wrong-Headed British 'Safety Cases' System

by Rena Steinzor | January 11, 2011
Despite its strong condemnation of the industry-wide problems that caused last year’s BP Oil Spill, the report today from the President’s commission waivered on a crucial subject: it significantly embraced the essentially self-regulatory British "Safety Case" model of regulation that industry and its consultants have been promoting. So while the commission has done some terrific work, one of its key recommendations is very disturbing.  The safety case approach ultimately leaves to the oil companies, rather than regulators, the difficult but crucial work ...

Food Safety Gets a Chance

by Rena Steinzor | December 23, 2010
Salmonella in eggs, peanuts, tomatoes, and spinach; and melamine in pet food and candy imported from China… With a regularity that has become downright terrifying, the food safety system in the United States has given us ample evidence that it has broken down completely. And so, in a small miracle of legislative activism, Democrats in Congress finally mustered the will and the votes to act, passing H.R. 2751 yesterday, not for the first time, but for the second time in the Senate ...

War on Regulation Coming to the States? Why IPI's Plan For Centralized Regulatory Review Isn't What We Need

by Rena Steinzor | November 17, 2010
One of the most powerful sleights of hand achieved by Republicans during the last election cycle was their renewed declaration of war on regulation. It’s no secret which of their interest groups are most passionate about this aspect of their agenda. Tuesday's LATimes previewed a plan by the Chamber of Commerce, to be announced today, to further unleash its lobbying legions against regulations as soon as the new congress is anointed. But it's unlikely the Chamber will get too specific on which popular ...

Obama’s Path Forward: Impart a Sense of Urgency to Regulatory Agencies Protecting Health, Safety and the Environment

by Rena Steinzor | November 04, 2010
There’s a lot of punditry left to be committed about whether and how the GOP majority in the House and the enhanced GOP minority in the Senate will work with the Obama Administration. I’m not optimistic. But even if the President and House Republicans are able to find some small patch of common ground, the hard reality that progressives need to swallow is that whatever major progressive legislation will bear Barack Obama’s signature has already become law, at least for ...

The Oil Spill Commission, the White House, and the Next Election

by Rena Steinzor | October 13, 2010
Whatever happens at the polls this November, President Obama will get a chance to turn the electoral tide in 2012, perhaps without the loadstone of recession around his political neck.  And, while the economy and many other issues will continue to occupy the President for the best and most obvious of reasons, it’s fair for everyone in the country to expect him to multi-task. For progressives who care about the environment, I’d suggest one critical criterion for judging the Administration: Can the ...

EPA Delivers on TMDL, Raps Chesapeake Bay States

by Rena Steinzor | September 24, 2010
As expected, the Environmental Protect Agency issued its draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay this afternoon – essentially a cap on total pollution in the Bay, as well as caps on each of 92 separate segments of the Bay. EPA also issued assessments of each of the affected states’ Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs), evaluating proposals for implementing the TMDL from Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. As I said in ...

Also from Rena Steinzor

Rena Steinzor is a Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and a past president of the Center for Progressive Reform. She is the author of Why Not Jail? Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction.

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