CPR Archive for Rena Steinzor

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 fleshes out a number of significant differences that we have with the regulatory methods and outcomes Professor Sunstein has embraced – his approach to cost-benefit analysis first and foremost. We believe OIRA’s 25-year record of applying cost-benefit amply demonstrates that it is an inherently flawed method of evaluating proposed regulations. Time and again, benefits (to the public) are understated and costs (to industry) are overstated, with the result that badly needed regulations – developed by environmental, health, and safety experts at regulatory agencies pursuant to a congressional grant of authority – are scuttled or weakened by OIRA economists.


While David Stockman and the Reagan Administration didn’t invent cost-benefit analysis, they turned it into a tool for defeating needed regulation. Somehow they managed to sell the Washington establishment on the idea that cost-benefit brought mathematical precision to the regulatory process. That idea was a scam. The Clinton Administration should have dispatched cost-benefit analysis or at the very least ...

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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