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Feb. 28, 2013 by Ben Somberg

Robert Glicksman Testifies in House Hearing on Regulatory Policy

CPR Member Scholar Robert L. Glicksman will testify at a hearing this morning of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.

The hearing will promote the notion of "The Obama Administration's Regulatory War on Jobs, the Economy, and America's Global Competitiveness" (sounds awfully familiar), and the solution, the majority will say, is a series of anti-regulatory bills (many of which passed the House, but went nowhere in the Senate, in the last Congress).

Professor Glicksman’s testimony argues that the proposed regulatory process legislation amounts to a solution in search of a problem:

The proponents of making it more difficult for agencies to regulate tend to ignore the very real costs that result from a failure to regulate even though significant costs may flow from decisions not to regulate just as they do from decisions to regulate. … The supporters of the proposed regulatory process bills discussed above are right about one thing:  The U.S. regulatory system is not promoting the public interest as well as it should be.  But their diagnosis of the problem could not be farther from the mark, and their proposed bills would only make the situation worse …

Feb. 26, 2013 by Joseph Tomain
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With advancements in hydraulic fracturing technology, shale gas has dramatically altered domestic energy in the United States.  Some commentators claim that shale gas can address all of our major energy problems. Some consider natural gas a bridge fuel to a clean energy future.  Bills in Congress proposing a federal “Clean Energy Standard” have included natural gas as a qualifying “clean” fuel source. President Obama’s recent State of the Union address emphasized natural gas and renewable energy as important to reshaping American energy use.   

Given the projected impacts of climate change, we have reached a point when the air and water impacts of natural gas development call on policymakers to sort through some key questions with care: How will current and future energy policy position natural gas, explicitly or by default, relative to fossil energy alternatives like renewable energy?  What role should natural gas play in the …

Feb. 26, 2013 by Uma Outka
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This post was written by CPR Member Scholars Joseph P. Tomain & Uma Outka.

With advancements in hydraulic fracturing technology, shale gas has dramatically altered domestic energy in the United States.  Some commentators claim that shale gas can address all of our major energy problems. Some consider natural gas a bridge fuel to a clean energy future.  Bills in Congress proposing a federal “Clean Energy Standard” have included natural gas as a qualifying “clean” fuel source. President Obama’s recent State of the Union address emphasized natural gas and renewable energy as important to reshaping American energy use.   

Given the projected impacts of climate change, we have reached a point when the air and water impacts of natural gas development call on policymakers to sort through some key questions with care: How will current and future energy policy position natural gas, explicitly or by default, relative to …

Feb. 25, 2013 by Frank Ackerman
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Cross-posted from Triple Crisis.

Renewable energy is clean, sustainable, non-polluting, reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, improves the health of communities surrounding power plants, and protects the natural environment. Who could be against it?

Answer: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a lobbying group that is active in drafting and advocating controversial state legislation. They’re not just interested in energy: in recent years ALEC has supported Arizona’s restrictive immigration legislation, the “Stand Your Ground” gun laws associated with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and voter identification laws proposed in many states. ALEC’s priorities for 2013 include making it harder to bring product liability suits against manufacturers of defective products, ending traditional pension plans for public employees, promoting the diversion of public education funds into private schools and on-line education schemes, and supporting resistance to “Obamacare” health policies.

When it comes to energy, ALEC …

Feb. 22, 2013 by Catherine O'Neill
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Outgoing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson made environmental justice a priority at the agency. As her tenure draws to a close, EPA released its Plan EJ 2014: Progress Report in January, summarizing the agency’s considerable advances toward this important goal. The EPA deserves accolades for the seriousness with which it has treated the issue and for the progress it has made to address the unique and disproportionate burdens that environmental contamination visits on American Indian tribes and their members, on communities of color, and on low-income people.

It is a pity, then, that EPA touts among its “key accomplishments” its role in overseeing Oregon’s belated adoption of water quality standards that are more protective of tribal people and others who consume fish. EPA actually had to be sued in order to play this role. And EPA is taking the same lackadaisical stance elsewhere …

Feb. 19, 2013 by Dave Owen
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In the 2005 Energy Policy Act, Congress recognized that energy and water supply issues are deeply intertwined, and required the Department of Energy (DOE) to report on their nexus and make recommendations for future action within two years. (42 USC 16319).  DOE started this important work, but never finished it. 

DOE’s initial report, issued in 2007, hinted at the complexity and seriousness of the energy-water nexus.  It discussed both how supplying energy requires water and supplying water requires energy.  For example, thermoelectric power plants (primarily coal-fired, natural gas-fired and nuclear plants) account for about 40% of all freshwater withdrawals in the United States, roughly equal to the amount of freshwater withdrawn for irrigated agriculture.  For its part, water supply and treatment consume about 4% of the electricity generated domestically, and activities associated with water use (irrigation, water heating, clothes washing and drying) consume even more. 

Yet …

Feb. 18, 2013 by Robert Glicksman
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Energy policy in the United States is inextricably linked with questions of environmental protection. Thus, for example, the Obama administration will soon be called upon to decide whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, how much (and what kind) of regulation to impose on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction, whether to regulate carbon emissions from existing coal-burning power plants, what proportion of federally owned lands should be devoted to mineral extraction, and whether to allow the expansion of oil and gas drilling in northern Alaska. Each of those pending decisions will not only affect the mix of sources available to meet the nation’s energy needs, but will also have immense consequences for the nation’s environment and, indeed, for the future of our planet.

This link between energy policy and environmental protection is nothing new. It has been evident at least since the beginning of …

Feb. 15, 2013 by Matt Shudtz
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This week, GAO provided a helpful, unfortunately annual, reminder that EPA must do more to keep the IRIS program relevant for chemical risk management.  For the fifth year running, EPA’s programs for chemical risk management (IRIS among them) have been deemed in need of attention to avoid becoming so ineffective as to be considered a waste of agency resources.  GAO notes minimal progress by the IRIS program on completing assessments in the last two fiscal years (4 assessments each year).  GAO’s concern about the pace of new assessments echoes the concerns raised by CPR and other public health advocates at a Nov. 2012 stakeholder meeting convened by Dr. Kenneth Olden, the new head of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment. 

IRIS program management recently delivered a status update to the National Research Council, explaining additional changes to the IRIS process that are aimed at …

Feb. 15, 2013 by James Goodwin
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Earlier this week, Karen Mills, the current Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), announced her intention to leave office, opening up another second-term vacancy for President Obama to fill in the coming months.  The SBA position is unlikely to attract as much media attention or pundit speculation as the EPA or Energy Interior posts, but it could have a big impact on whether the Obama Administration is able to take on the long to-do list of public health, safety, and environmental challenges that the nation currently faces.  The next SBA Administrator can and should begin the critical process of reshaping the controversial SBA Office of Advocacy so that it focuses on helping truly small businesses, without undermining regulatory safeguards.

A recent CPR white paper I co-authored examined how the Office of Advocacy uses federal tax dollars to try to block health, safety, and environmental regulations, often …

Feb. 14, 2013 by Thomas McGarity
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Ed. Note: This post is a reprint, with minor updates, of McGarity’s post one year ago on the first anniversary of the proposed silica rule arriving at OMB. Little has happened on the issue in the past year – except more people have been sickened or killed by silica exposure.

Today marks the second anniversary of an event that received little media attention, but marked a major milestone in the progression of a regulation that is of great importance to thousands of Americans whose jobs bring them into contact with dust particles containing the common mineral silica. Exactly two years ago today the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) completed a proposed rule requiring employers in the mining, manufacturing and construction industries to protect their employees from silica dust particles as they engage in such activities as sandblasting, cutting rocks and concrete, and jackhammering.

Silica dust is …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Feb. 28, 2013

Robert Glicksman Testifies in House Hearing on Regulatory Policy

Feb. 26, 2013

Natural Gas in the Big Picture

Feb. 26, 2013

Natural Gas in the Big Picture:

Feb. 25, 2013

Not-So-Smart ALEC: The Right Wing vs. Renewable Energy

Feb. 22, 2013

Justice Delayed

Feb. 19, 2013

The Missing Energy-Water Roadmap

Feb. 18, 2013

National Energy Policies and the Environment: Can the National Environmental Policy Act Provide a Harmonizing Framework?