April 29, 2014 by Erin Kesler

CPR Scholars Respond to Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of EPA's Cross-State Pollution Rule

The Supreme Court today upheld, by a 6-2 vote, the EPA's cross-state air pollution rule.

Below are reactions from Center for Progressive Reform scholars Thomas O. McGarity and Victor Flatt.

According to McGarity:

After two decade's worth of litigation, the Supreme Court has finally held that EPA may require polluters in one state to protect air quality in downwind states through a sensible combination of emissions thresholds, cost-effective pollution reduction technologies, and emissions trading.  

While this is good news to residents of downwind states, they cannot yet breathe easy.  Much time has passed since EPA promulgated the "cross-state" rule in 2011, and both EPA and the states must now make up for lost time in putting the rule's protective provisions into place.  

To achieve a successful implementation, EPA must resist the inevitable demands for exceptions, exemptions, and time extensions from upwind states that have thus far successfully forestalled the Clean Air Act's "good neighbor" policy.

According to Flatt:

The majority got it exactly right in reversing the DC Circuit Court and upholding the EPA's painstakingly crafted cross state air pollution rule. The majority was correct that the formula promulgated by the EPA was well within …

April 9, 2014 by Erin Kesler

Yesterday, The Hill published an opinion piece by CPR scholars Christine Klein and Sandra Zellmer.

According to the piece:

President Obama recently signed a controversial bill that will directly affect the safety of millions of Americans. The fine print is so complicated, though, that it’s hard to predict exactly how our safety will be affected.

Some say that the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 brings desperately needed relief to property owners who face ruinous increases in their premiums for federal flood insurance. To supporters like Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.), the law preserves the American dream of homeownership from ill-conceived intervention by “an irrational Washington force.”

Others see the new law as election-year pandering and a cowardly reversal of course. Just two years ago, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 in direct response to catastrophic damage from Superstorm Sandy. The 2012 …

April 3, 2014 by Erin Kesler

Today, CPR Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Shudtz will be testifying at OSHA’s hearing on the proposed silica rule.

According to Shudtz:

The testimony raises some concerns about how OSHA arrived at its proposal to provide limited medical surveillance for silica-exposed workers.  It also covers issues related to enforcement and small business impacts.  But most importantly, the testimony reiterates the need to get this rule finalized quickly.  As we have noted many times in this space, millions of workers are exposed to silica dust at levels that cause high rates of silicosis, lung cancer, renal disease, COPD, and other health problems.  The faster this rule is put in place and enforced, the faster these workers will be able to breath safer air.

To read the testimony in full click here.

Feb. 27, 2014 by Erin Kesler

Today, Center for Progressive Reform analyst Michael Patoka testified at a Maryland Senate Finance Committee Hearing in support of SB 774, which would require construction companies contracting with the state to be prequalified based on their worker health and safety performance measures.

The widely supported legislation would ensure unscrupulous employers do not receive contracts funded by taxpayer dollars. 

In his testimony Patoka notes: 

Currently, construction firms are screened on a number of factors prior to bidding, but worker-safety considerations are not included. As a result, agencies can easily end up financing companies that operate hazardous worksites and endanger Maryland workers. Indeed, the current system encourages firms to cut corners on worker safety, since by doing so they may be able to offer lower bids than their more responsible competitors and thus have a better chance at winning lucrative contracts.

The construction industry is responsible for a disproportionately …

Dec. 23, 2013 by Erin Kesler

Climate change and pollution affects everyone. Global warming-induced hurricanes pummel our coasts and droughts ravage our farmland. Our neighbors, friends, and children develop asthma and heart attacks because of air pollution and our favorite parks and hunting grounds are withering away.

The science is conclusive and polls reflect the concern of many Americans about global warming and its related pollution. So what can account for the lack of government action on the issue? The answer has a lot to do with our broken campaign finance system and the ability of individuals committed to denying the existence of climate change to dump huge amounts of money (much of it secret) into elections and in the political process.

During the 2012 election, outside spending groups, many of them newly created in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, reported spending more than $1.28 billion to …

Dec. 9, 2013 by Erin Kesler

Today, Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and University of Texas law professor Thomas O. McGarity published an op-ed in the New York Times entitled,"What Obama Left Out of His Inequality Speech: Reguation." 

In a speech last week, the President highlighted the problems associated with extreme socio-economic disparity.

But, as McGarity notes in his piece:

There’s a crucial dimension the president left out: the revival, since the mid-1970s, of the laissez-faire ideology that prevailed in the Gilded Age, roughly the 1870s through the 1910s. It’s no coincidence that this laissez-faire revival — an all-out assault on government regulation — has unfolded over the very period in which inequality has soared to levels not seen since the Gilded Age.

History tells us that in periods when protective governmental institutions are weak, irresponsible companies tend to abuse their economic freedom in ways that harm ordinary workers and consumers …

Nov. 13, 2013 by Erin Kesler

Today, Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, Wendy Wagner will testify at a House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment Hearing entitled, "S. 1009, Chemical Safety Improvement Act."

Wagner's testimony can be read in full here.

According to her testimony:

My testimony will focus on the various good science provisions in S.1009 and how they are likely to impact EPA’s use of science.  I will make the following points in my remarks: 

1.  The Senate bill contains dozens of unprecedented requirements that limit the scientific evidence EPA can consider when developing regulations and how this evidence can be used.  Yet despite the detailed level of scientific prescription in the Bill, it is not clear what problem the Bill is trying to fix.  While there have been many failures associated with the Toxic Substances …

Nov. 7, 2013 by Erin Kesler

Today, Center for Progressive Reform board member and University of Texas School of Law professor Thomas O. McGarity will testify at a Hearing hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee entitled, "Justice Delayed II: the Impact of Nonrule RuleMakiing in Auto Safey and Mental Health."

McGarity's testimony can be read in full here.

According to the testimony, some possible solutions to the problems created by nonrule rulemaking include:

Agencies that are conscientiously committed to carrying out their statutory missions will continue to employ informal rulemaking with all of its burdensome accoutrements if they have no other alternative.  For example, EPA’s statutes typically require it to use informal rulemaking to fill in the necessary implementation details, and they often specify precise deadlines for EPA action.  Its heavy rulemaking output during the past few years is a testament to the ability of a very determined agency to employ …

Oct. 9, 2013 by Erin Kesler

Yesterday, the Hill published an op-ed by Center for Progressive Reform Scholar Joel A. Mintz entitled, "The Government Shutdown and the EPA: the Environmental Dangers of Congressional Recklessness."

It can be read in full here.

According to Mintz:

The indefinite close down of EPA’s operations poses major risks, some imminent and others long term, to the health and natural environment of millions of Americans.

The EPA’s enforcement of existing regulations provides vital protections against the emission of toxic air and water pollutants and the contamination of public drinking water supplies. The EPA works to prevent the exposure of school children to asbestos, the ingestion of toxic lead paint by infants, and the release of poisonous chemicals from long-abandoned hazardous waste dumps. The Agency also works to guard against the destruction of fish, shellfish and other aquatic life. In addition, the EPA supplies much-needed grant money …

Oct. 8, 2013 by Erin Kesler

Last Friday, Executive Order 12866, which governs the work of OMB's regulatory review arm, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reached its 20th anniversary.

Center for Progressive Reform scholars marked the anniversary by examining the Order's reach and OIRA's influence on the regulatory process including on the issues of transparency, timeliness and the centralization of executive power.

Here's a roundup of their contributions: David Driesen: Keeping OIRA from Harming Efforts to Reduce Greenhouse Gases Emissions "As of this writing, more than six years have elapsed since the Supreme Court held that greenhouse gases were pollutants under the Clean Air Act, many of them under a President committed to addressing climate disruption. In all of that time, EPA has not imposed any limits on the greenhouse gas emissions of power plants or factories, thus making climate disruption irretrievably worse than it might …

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