A Final 2017 Dose of Op-Eds

Matthew Freeman

Dec. 28, 2017

CPR’s Member Scholars and staff rounded out a prolific year of op-ed writing with pieces covering several topics, touching on the Endangered Species Act, the scuttling of criminal justice reform, saving the Chesapeake Bay, the Administration’s efforts to unravel the Clean Power Plan, and the tax bill President Trump signed into law last week. You can read all 46 of this year's op-eds here, but here’s a brief roundup of the latest:

In an October 29, 2017, piece in The Hill, Bill Buzbee says that the Trump administration’s efforts to wish away the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan are headed for “rocky shoals.” Among other problems, the repeal push is proceeding in the absence of a formal rulemaking process. “Just last year,” he writes, “the Supreme Court reiterated that an agency proposing a policy change must provide a ‘reasoned explanation for disregarding facts and circumstances that underlay’ the prior policy…. A president’s policy leaning can influence but not displace an agency’s reasoned judgment. An agency proposing to change a rule…must engage with its past reasoning, past scientific and factual conclusions, statutory requirements and relevant court precedents.”

Writing in the December 8 Reno Gazette, Dan Rohlf takes up the case of protecting the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. He writes that regional stakeholders in the West undertook an “unprecedented effort to develop a plan – if not for outright harmony, at least toward a workable outline for coexistence. Western states, federal agencies, environmental organizations, landowners, sportsmen and women, and industry representatives worked together for many months to develop a management strategy to improve protections for sage grouse habitat while allowing our public lands to stay open for multiple uses. It was a truly cooperative and collaborative process.” The Bureau of Land Management adopted the result of that successful effort into its land management plans, only to have the Trump administration upset them, like a “grumpy uncle who arrives late for dinner and wants his way no matter what.”

On December 14, Rena Steinzor and David Flores had a piece in the Chesapeake Bay Journal urging Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Director of the Environment Benjamin Grumbles to step up and lead their Chesapeake Bay state counterparts toward clean-up plan for the Bay that accounts for the polluting effects of climate change. The two need to push back, they say, against an effort that would “repudiatee rigorous, peer-reviewed science and promote a lighter — but no less significant — form of climate denialism.”

Another piece by Steinzor appeared in The Hill on December 19, this one on the topic of what the Trump administration would pass off as criminal justice “reform.” “Despite the most extensive bipartisan support in many years for the reform of mass incarceration in the United States,” she writes, “the Trump administration has ignored this enormous problem and focuses solely on greater leniency for white collar criminals.”

Finally, Joel Mintz took to The Hill with a December 23 piece laying bare the GOP tax bill’s tilt toward the wealthy, and warning that “next year, you can count on the sponsors of this horrendous new tax law using the additional red ink they’re now creating to justify deep cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs that are key supports for the very people the new tax law leaves behind. The law will surely also lead to new budgetary pressures on the already resource-starved federal agencies responsible for protecting human health, the environment, worker safety, consumer rights and other vital societal interests.”

It’s been a busy year of op-ed-ery for CPR’s scholars and staff, but then, it’s been a busy year on all fronts, especially for those who care about the environment, health, safety, good government, worker protections and more. We expect to keep up the charge in the New Year.

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