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Jan. 25, 2021 by Daniel Farber

The Controversial Congressional Review Act

This post originally ran in The Conversation and on Legal Planet and is reprinted here under Creative Commons license CC BY-ND 4.0.

The Trump administration dedicated itself to deregulation with unprecedented fervor. It rolled back scores of regulations across government agencies, including more than 80 environmental rules.

The Biden administration can reverse some of those actions quickly – for instance, as president, Joe Biden can undo Donald Trump’s executive orders with a stroke of the pen. On his first day in office, Biden used that power to start bringing the U.S. back into the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization, and to rescind a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline and orders restricting travel from several predominantly Muslim and African countries. He also ordered a temporary moratorium on oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Undoing most regulatory rollbacks, however, will require a review process that can take years, often followed by further delays during litigation.

There is an alternative, but it comes with risks.

Biden could take a leaf from the Republicans’ 2017 playbook, when congressional Republicans used a shortcut based on an obscure federal law called the Congressional Review …

Jan. 22, 2021 by Joseph Tomain
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President Joe Biden named Commissioner Richard Glick as Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) January 21. Glick succeeds Chairman James Danly. The Commission is expected to retain its Republican majority until Commissioner Neil Chatterjee's term is up on June 30.

Glick previously served as a FERC Commissioner nominated by President Trump in August 2017 and confirmed by the Senate later that year.

Before joining FERC, Glick was general counsel for the Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, serving as a senior policy advisor on numerous issues, including electricity and renewable energy. Prior to that, he was vice president of government affairs for Iberdrola, a Spanish multinational electric utility. At Iberdrola, Glick focused on the company’s renewable energy, electric and gas utility, and natural gas storage businesses in the United States. He ran the company’s Washington, DC, office and was responsible …

Jan. 22, 2021 by Katlyn Schmitt
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The Maryland General Assembly is back in session — and we at the Center for Progressive Reform are tracking a number of bills that, if passed, will have a lasting impact on the people of Maryland and their environment. Several could also spur other states to improve their own environmental and public health protections.

We’re watching bills that would:

  • Ensure clean drinking water

    Everyone needs and deserves safe drinking water. Yet well owners in Maryland are largely left on their own to ensure their water is safe. Some 2 million Marylanders rely on well water as their primary water source, yet many well owners incorrectly believe their well water is safe to drink. Many don’t test their water annually or understand the importance of doing so.

    The Maryland Private Well Safety Program would address these problems. This would help well owners cover the costs of testing …

Jan. 21, 2021 by Katie Tracy
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President Joe Biden has tapped three seasoned experts to jumpstart the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal government's main worker health and safety agency. Jim Frederick will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA and will head the agency until a permanent Assistant Secretary is confirmed. Frederick’s experience includes over two decades working for the United Steel Workers' health, safety, and environment department. In his latest role, Frederick served as the assistant director and principal investigator for the department. Biden has also named Chip Hughes, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Worker Education and Training Program, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pandemic and Emergency Response. This will be a crucial role in the weeks and months ahead. Ann Rosenthal will join the team as Senior Advisor. Rosenthal served as the Associate Solicitor for Occupational Safety and Health at the Department …

Jan. 20, 2021 by James Goodwin
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The pro-Trump insurrection that took place at the United States Capitol on January 6 was the most serious threat to the rule of law in our country in well over a century. Unless we fully grapple with the conditions and causes that gave rise to it, this threat will linger, waiting for the next spark to reignite it.

The Capitol insurrection is the predictable culmination of decades of self-serving attacks on "government." Especially since the Reagan administration, conservative lawmakers have increasingly amassed political fortunes by stoking the anger and resentment of millions of Americans who have been left behind by an ever more lopsided economy.

Their formula rests on a self-fulfilling prophesy: Attack government effectiveness to justify deep cuts to government functions, which in turn fuels new attacks on government and new calls for even deeper cuts.

Ordinarily, our free press would be responsible for halting …

Jan. 19, 2021 by Daniel Farber
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This post was originally published on Legal Planet. Reprinted with permission.

Conservatives love to complain about faceless bureaucrats, but blaming bureaucrats for regulations is hopelessly out of date. When Elena Kagan was a professor, she wrote an article called “Presidential Administration.” The article applauded her former boss Bill Clinton for seizing greater control of the regulatory process, away from agencies. That trend has accelerated to the point where the White House controls even the fine details of regulation.

Two things can get sidelined in presidential administration. One is agency expertise. No one in the White House has as much knowledge as agency experts about air pollution, or climate change, or endangered species.

The other thing that gets sidelined is active implementation of the law actually passed by Congress. The White House staff who review regulations care only about costs and benefits. The president and the higher-level staff …

Jan. 14, 2021 by Michele Janin, Robert Verchick
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Over the last six months, we had the honor of leading the search for a visionary new leader to guide our organization. Our search is over, and we're thrilled to announce that Minor Sinclair will be taking CPR's helm next month.

Sinclair is a dynamic leader with a commitment to the progressive values CPR has fought for over the last two decades: justice, equity, public health, safety, and environmental sustainability. He is uniquely qualified to guide our organization through this moment of social and political change.

A tireless advocate for justice, Sinclair has dedicated his career to supporting the rights of low-income and vulnerable communities. He also has management and fundraising experience, an ability to bring people together around progressive change, and an ambitious vision for CPR as it enters its third decade.

After earning a bachelor's degree in international development from Davidson College, Sinclair began his …

Jan. 13, 2021 by Daniel Farber
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This post was originally published on Legal Planet. Reprinted with permission.

Donald Trump's hostility domestic environmental regulation is notorious. He also stalled or backpedaled on the international front. Here are seven steps that President Biden could take to remedy the situation.

  1. Rejoin the Paris Agreement. The U.S. needs to immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement. It also needs to update its climate target because we can do a lot more than we thought possible even four years ago to reduce emissions. Technology has improved, renewable prices have fallen, and the car industry is prepared to embrace electric vehicles.

  2. Rejoin the WHO. Leaving the World Health Organization (WHO) in the middle of a pandemic was crazy for many reasons — among them, its effect on the environment. As I wrote in a post at the time, WHO does important work in many countries on controlling dangerous levels of air …

Jan. 12, 2021 by Victor Flatt
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One of the most vexing environmental law issues of the last three decades is the scope of the term "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) in the Clean Water Act — and what marshes, lakes, and streams fall under its purview. A connected legal question stretching back even further is how much deference to give agencies in policymaking and legal interpretations.

These issues are present in both the Trump administration's final "Waters of the United States" rule, which narrowly defines waters subject to the act, and the Biden administration's likely attempt to expand that definition. The Trump administration's narrow approach dramatically reduces the number of waterways under federal protection. A broader definition would restore and possibly expand protections to better safeguard public and environmental health.

A new study on the economic analyses in the Trump rule (which I co-authored) concludes that its supporting economic analyses rely on questionable …

Jan. 11, 2021 by Shalanda H. Baker, Alice Kaswan
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The Black Lives Matter movement highlights long-standing inequities and amplifies the drumbeat for climate justice and an equitable transition to a clean economy. With the incoming Biden-Harris administration and a growing list of environmental justice advocates at the helm, it's time to move from rhetoric to reality. We offer concrete proposals to turn climate justice goals into climate justice policies.

The call for climate justice has multiple dimensions, from ensuring an equitable transition to clean energy for vulnerable communities and workers disrupted by the move away from fossil fuels, to extending the benefits of our economy-wide shift to those who have historically been left behind. Even more than past environmental challenges, decarbonizing will not be a narrow, technical undertaking. We need a holistic, justice-centered perspective to shape our vision for a green economy and meet the pervasive environmental and …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Jan. 25, 2021

The Controversial Congressional Review Act

Jan. 22, 2021

Maryland Considers Bills to Protect Public, Environmental Health

Jan. 22, 2021

Biden Named Richard Glick as Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. What's Next for the Agency?

Jan. 21, 2021

Biden Tapped Frederick, Hughes, Rosenthal for OSHA’s Leadership Team. Here's How They Can Fix the Agency.

Jan. 20, 2021

The Era of 'Small Government' Must End: Reflections on the Capitol Insurrection

Jan. 19, 2021

Rethinking Presidential Administration

Jan. 14, 2021

CPR Welcomes New Executive Director Minor Sinclair