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Aug. 3, 2020 by Matt Shudtz, Brian Gumm

Will Isaias Unleash Toxic Floodwaters along the East Coast?

Based on its current projected path, Tropical Storm Isaias could bring heavy rains up and down the East Coast, from the Carolinas and Virginia to the Delmarva Peninsula, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Along the way, the storm could swamp industrial facilities, coal ash ponds, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and more.

From Hurricane Florence to Hurricane Harvey and beyond, in the past 15 years, we've seen numerous tropical storms flood unprepared facilities. This has caused significant infrastructure damage and unleashed toxic floodwaters into nearby communities and waterways, threatening public health and making residents sick.

While no one can predict the exact path of any given storm, we do know the importance of preparing for extreme weather and adapting to the climate crisis. For resources on this issue, you can review CPR's report on toxic floodwaters in Virginia, our paper on toxic floodwaters and public health, and our recommendations for improving our nation's preparedness for storms like Isaias.

If you live in the path of Isaias, please be safe. If you witness or hear about flooding at industrial sites, coal ash ponds, CAFOs, and other facilities near you, let us know.

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June 11, 2020 by Katie Tracy, Brian Gumm
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In a June 11 order, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied an AFL-CIO writ of mandamus asking the court to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to do more to protect workers from infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. The order continues the dangerous status quo of workers laboring with no enforceable protections from the highly contagious and deadly virus.

On March 6, the AFL-CIO petitioned OSHA to develop an emergency temporary standard to address the significant hazards of COVID-19 infection in the workplace, followed by a permanent standard to continue safeguarding workers from infectious diseases. From health care, to meatpacking plants, to warehouses, and a variety of other workplaces, employers have not done nearly enough to protect workers from the pandemic. This has resulted in infections, deaths, and enormous economic damage. Despite the grave dangers COVID-19 poses to workers, their families, and their …

June 1, 2020 by Matt Shudtz, David Flores, Matthew Freeman, James Goodwin, Brian Gumm, Catherine Jones, Darya Minovi, Katlyn Schmitt, Katie Tracy, Robert Verchick, Robert Glicksman, Alice Kaswan, Thomas McGarity, Joel Mintz, Sidney Shapiro, Amy Sinden
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Staff and Board members of the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) denounce the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Memorial Day. We stand with the peaceful protestors calling for radical, systemic reforms to root out racism from our society and all levels of our governing institutions and the policies they administer.

CPR Member Scholars and staff are dedicated to listening to and working alongside Black communities and non-Black people of color to call out racism and injustice and demand immediate and long-lasting change. Racism and bigotry cannot continue in the United States if our nation is to live up to its creed of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

CPR's vision is thriving communities and a resilient planet. That ideal animates all of our work, but systemic sources of inequality and injustice stand as massive barriers to the realization …

April 21, 2020 by Brian Gumm
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On April 17, CPR Board President Rob Verchick joined EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine and other panelists for an American Bar Association webinar on environmental protections and enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the event, Bodine expressed "surprise" that the agency's pandemic enforcement policy was so roundly criticized, but she shouldn't have been caught off guard by those critiques.

As Verchick noted during the discussion, "The problem with [weakening monitoring and pollution reporting requirements] is that fenceline communities have no idea where to look. They have no idea if the facilities in their backyards are…taking a holiday from pollution requirements or not."

Verchick added, "Companies don't know what their competitors are doing, and so now you've got companies who might be thinking, oh, well, my competing facilities, maybe they're taking advantage of this and I must, too, because nobody knows who's taking advantage …

March 31, 2020 by Brian Gumm
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On March 27, the Center for Progressive Reform joined environmental justice, public health, and community advocates in calling out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for suspending enforcement of our nation's crucial environmental laws. The agency made the move as part of the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, despite mounting evidence that increased air pollution worsens COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.

Not missing the opportunity to use the crisis as an excuse to press its assault on our safeguards, the EPA said last week that it would not "seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations" for an indefinite period of time. As the coalition of groups noted, the order is broad and "relieves polluting and hazardous industries from meeting environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak, with no end date in sight."

The enforcement suspension will almost certainly lead to …

May 16, 2019 by Brian Gumm
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In April, states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed published drafts of the latest iteration of plans to reduce pollution and protect their rivers and streams. New analyses from the Center for Progressive Reform show that the plans fall far short of what is needed to restore the health and ecological integrity of the Chesapeake Bay.

The draft plans, known as Phase III watershed implementation plans (WIPs), were developed as part of the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) framework that includes all the states in the Chesapeake watershed. CPR Policy Analysts David Flores and Evan Isaacson focused on three states – Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – that are responsible for nearly 90 percent of nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake and represent more than 90 percent of the remaining pollution reductions needed to reach the final 2025 pollution reduction target.

Isaacson examined and evaluated the draft WIPs with several criteria …

March 27, 2019 by Brian Gumm
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Michigan. Minnesota. New Jersey. North Carolina. West Virginia. These are just some of the hotspots of water contamination caused by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS. Linked to a number of cancers and other illnesses, PFAS chemicals have been used in everything from nonstick cookware to stain-resistant clothing and carpets. Until recently, the substances have gone largely unregulated, exposing millions of Americans to toxic contamination.

Earlier this month, CPR Member Scholar and UC-Riverside Professor Carl Cranor spoke with UCR News about PFAS and the dangers the chemicals pose to human health and the environment.

PFAS' carbon-fluorine bonds are some of the strongest in organic chemistry. They're so stable, in fact, that PFAS have been widely referred to as "forever chemicals" because of their indestructability, said Carl Cranor, a distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside.

"These chemicals are going to be part …

Nov. 6, 2017 by Brian Gumm
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In an article just published in the Environmental Law Institute's Environmental Law Reporter, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Bob Sussman examines the tenure of Administrator Scott Pruitt thus far. I recently talked with Mr. Sussman about Pruitt's so-called "back to basics" approach at EPA, the rollbacks of environmental protections he has overseen so far, and Pruitt's numerous favors for special interests. 

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has made a big deal out of his "back to basics" mantra at the agency. What do you think he means by that, and are his actions living up to his words? 

Although Scott Pruitt's words suggest a renewed focus on the fundamentals of environmental protection – clean air, clean water, and safer chemicals – his actions tell a different story. Instead of doubling down on traditional programs safeguarding air, water, and land, Pruitt's tenure so far has …

Jan. 24, 2017 by Brian Gumm
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NEWS RELEASE: Rep. Mick Mulvaney Should Not Be Confirmed to Lead the Office of Management and Budget                                                                                                             

Today, the Senate Committees on Budget and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held confirmation hearings for Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), President Donald Trump's selection for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Mulvaney tried to assuage some of the concerns about his nomination, but his answers attempting to mask his disdain for public protections – combined with his past rhetoric and actions – show that he should not be confirmed. 

Robert Verchick, President of the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR), summed up the concerns about Mulvaney. "The Office of Management and Budget serves several key roles within the federal government, including proposing the budgets of protective agencies and overseeing the regulatory process," Verchick said. "As an anti-government ideologue, Rep. Mick Mulvaney is wholly unqualified to serve as director of …

Dec. 13, 2016 by Brian Gumm
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President-Elect Donald Trump has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as his Interior Secretary, and former Texas governor Rick Perry as his Energy Secretary. The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has released statements on the picks.

Robert Glicksman, CPR Board Member, on Department of the Interior Secretary nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT): 

Donald Trump's selection of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as Secretary of the Interior does nothing to erase fears that the President-Elect prioritizes private extractive and developmental uses of federal lands at the expense of management in the long-term interests of the American people. 

So far, Trump's transition team has made it clear that the new administration intends to abandon the Department of the Interior's mission of protecting and preserving our nation's natural heritage for use by …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Aug. 3, 2020

Will Isaias Unleash Toxic Floodwaters along the East Coast?

June 11, 2020

Court Order Okays OSHA Inaction on COVID-19

June 1, 2020

CPR Will Stand with Those Who Cannot Breathe

April 21, 2020

CPR's Verchick Notes Weakening Environmental Enforcement during Pandemic Endangers Fenceline Communities

March 31, 2020

CPR Joins Advocates in Blasting EPA's Free Pass for Polluters

May 16, 2019

Chesapeake Bay State Plans to Protect Watershed, Reduce Pollution Fall Short

March 27, 2019

CPR's Cranor Talks PFAS, Drinking Water, and Corporate Accountability