CPR Archive for Rena Steinzor

The People's Agents: When the Fox Guards the Hen House...and Is Paid by Perdue

by Rena Steinzor | March 20, 2009

The financial cataclysm gripping the country is often (and rightly) blamed on a lax system of public and private oversight of financial institutions. On the private side, investors trusted huge auditing companies like Arthur Anderson to rate multinational corporations for fiscal soundness. Meanwhile, Arthur Anderson also took handsome fees from the same corporations to conduct those audits.  Such self-dealing makes no sense to most Americans.  No one lets us administer our own driving tests, much less check our own tax returns.

On the public side of the equation, we must consider the behavior of the government’s watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which was missing in action for much of the last decade.  Investors are so furious about this turn of events that some of Bernie Madoff’s victims have even filed suit against the SEC asking for money because the government ignored warnings from a whistleblower, while Madoff made off (sorry!) with billions of their dollars.

Now we have learned that these corrupt, nonsensical, and above all-highly ineffective approaches to financial transactions also apply to our food.  Reporting by the New York Times (here and here) revealed that unqualified inspectors employed by the privately owned American Institute of Baking were deployed by such food industry giants as Kellogg to inspect facilities owned by the Peanut Corporation of America, which owns and operates the plant that shipped the chopped nuts, peanut paste, and peanut ...

Delivering Health, Safety, and a Clean Environment: CPR Submits Comments for New Executive Order on Regulatory Review

by Rena Steinzor | March 17, 2009
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) invited public comments on the design of its new Executive Order on regulatory review, and CPR has now submitted our recommendations. We urged the Obama Administration to make fundamental changes in how OMB and prospective “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein operate. We're hopeful that the new Administration will convert OMB from a regulatory Siberia into the guarantor of dramatically improved government protection of public health, safety, and the environment. If we have learned anything ...

The People's Agents: Rescuing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

by Rena Steinzor | March 06, 2009
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the most maligned and least respected federal agency with responsibility for protecting people’s lives. Now that Hilda Solis has been confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Labor, we can only hope that a new OSHA administrator with a strong stomach, an iron will, and a “yes we can” attitude will be chosen to take over this troubled agency.   Workplace injuries and illnesses numbered 4.1 million in private sector workplaces for ...

OMB Seeks Public Input on New Executive Order on Regulatory Review

by Rena Steinzor | February 27, 2009
Late last week, I sent a letter to Peter Orszag, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget that, among other things, called on OMB to allow for public participation in the design of its new Executive Order governing federal regulatory review. I’m happy to see that OMB has decided to do just that, with its announcement in Thursday’s Federal Register that it would “invite public comments on how to improve the process and principles governing regulation.”   ...

Cass Sunstein's 'Yes, We Can'

by Rena Steinzor | February 10, 2009
Normal 0 We’ve written a great deal about Cass Sunstein, the Harvard law professor who is expected to get the nod to be the “regulatory czar” for the Obama Administration.   In a nutshell, our concern is that Sunstein will stifle the efforts of health, safety, and environmental protection agencies to struggle to their feet after eight long years of evisceration by the Bush Administration’s regulatory czars, John Graham, and his protégé, Susan Dudley.   But, we got to thinking, just ...

Cass Sunstein and OIRA

by Rena Steinzor | January 26, 2009
This morning, the Center for Progressive Reform published a report on some of the issues that will confront President Obama’s “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein, if, as seems likely, he is nominated and confirmed to be the director of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.   I’ve blogged on this before, and our report, Reinvigorating Protection of Health, Safety, and the Environment: The Choices Facing Cass Sunstein, speaks for itself, so I won’t go on too long here. The report ...

The Sunstein Appointment: More Here Than Meets the Eye

by Rena Steinzor | January 09, 2009
Thursday’s big news on the regulatory front was that President-elect Obama plans to nominate Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein to be the head of the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) – the so-called “regulatory czar” of the federal government. The appointment means that those of us expecting a revival of the protector agencies—EPA, FDA, OSHA, CPSC, and NHTSA—have reason to worry that “yes, we can” will become “no, we won’t.”   The ...

Regulators Cozying Up to Regulated Industry

by Rena Steinzor | January 06, 2009
A story in the Washington Post over the holidays offers up a nice case study in how regulated industries and federal agencies charged with regulating them have grown far too cozy. The story drew back the curtain on how the manufacturer of a toxic metal called beryllium managed to defeat efforts by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to establish a reasonable workplace standard, and then succeeded in corrupting an effort by an OSHA staffer to warn workers of the ...

Time for EPA to Ride in the Front Seat

by Rena Steinzor | December 12, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama seems close to naming Lisa Jackson, now head of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Jackson, or whoever ends up getting the appointment, will surely get a raft of advice from friends and closet enemies alike. Most of it will have to do with regulations she should cancel, promulgate, or change profoundly. But I have some turf-guarding advice.   Of all the body blows that have fallen on EPA in ...

A New Washington for Our Kids

by Rena Steinzor | November 12, 2008
About one in every fifteen Americans is a child under five years old, and those 20 million kids all experience the miracle of discovery and development. These fragile human beings are not simply little adults, the scientists tell us, for all sorts of reasons. They breathe five times faster, for one thing, inhaling much more fresh—and contaminated—air. Because their nervous systems are still developing, they are much more vulnerable to chemicals that cause brain damage, lags in cognitive development, and ...

Rays of Sunshine

by Rena Steinzor | August 19, 2008
  I think Wendy paints far too black a picture of the current state of affairs, and that rays of sunshine are beginning to poke through this particularly cloudy sky. I rest my case for more optimism on the increasingly aggressive role that scientific advisory boards are playing when political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency play fast and loose with the science.    Needless to say, the actions of the Bush Administration, in this and so many other areas, are ...

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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