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July 10, 2018 by Matt Shudtz

If Confirmed, Kavanaugh Would Tilt Supreme Court against Public Protections

This post is part of a series on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last night, President Donald Trump set the stage for a contentious debate about American social and economic welfare in the decades to come, nominating a Washington insider with a narrow worldview to the Supreme Court. Brett Kavanaugh's opinions on issues related to reproductive and civil rights are at the forefront of many voters' minds, but there's another danger that deserves just as much attention: What Kavanaugh would do on issues involving protections for consumers, workers, and the environment if confirmed by the Senate. 

Trump and the current congressional majority are busy with their attempts at "deconstructing the administrative state." Kavanaugh might tip the balance in that direction on the Supreme Court, as well, particularly given his record of animosity against sensible safeguards during his time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Without the judicial branch to act as a check on the more overtly political branches of our government, Kavanaugh may help usher in an era in which corporate profits are prioritized ahead of the stable climate, clean water, clean air, uncontaminated food, and …

May 15, 2018 by Matt Shudtz
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CPR President Rob Verchick recently sat down to talk with one of our newest Member Scholars, Professor Laurie Ristino of Vermont Law School, about the connections between climate change, food security, and policymaking tools like the Farm Bill that could be better used to promote sustainable agricultural practices.

We’re excited to share an audio recording of that conversation here as a “soft launch” of a new product at CPR – our “Connect the Dots” podcast. It’s a work in progress. Our first mini-series will focus on climate change adaptation, with episodes coming soon that explore issues related to climate-driven displacement, migration, and relocation; occupational health and safety protections; and water quality restoration in the United States.

In this first episode, Verchick and Ristino:

  • Define food security (0:50)  
  • Discuss the ways climate change affects food security, including changing rainfall, shifting growth seasons and crop yields, pests …

Feb. 14, 2018 by Matt Shudtz
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It was an early holiday present to the nation's biggest polluters. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in early December that he was drastically changing the way EPA reviews polluters' compliance – or lack thereof – with the Clean Air Act. Today on Capitol Hill, CPR Member Scholar Emily Hammond will explain that this dramatic shift in policy is a complete abnegation of EPA's statutory responsibilities and, beyond that, puts lives and economic opportunity at risk.

Professor Hammond is testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on the Environment. You can preview her testimony and watch the hearing live at 2 p.m. Eastern.

What's especially valuable about Hammond's testimony is the context she provides. Clean Air Act regulations are betes noires for our country's most vocal opponents of strong public health protections. That is because when EPA enforces the Clean Air Act …

Jan. 26, 2018 by Matt Shudtz
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Next Tuesday, President Trump will share his view of the state of our union. And if his words correlate with his actions over the last year, the dominant theme will be one of division and disruption. Like no president in recent history, Donald Trump has pushed U.S. residents to cordon ourselves off into dueling tribes whose theories of governance and policymaking diverge and whose basic facts and language are starting to split in disturbing ways.

But on whichever side of the divide each of us finds ourselves, most of us face some common challenges in daily life, including keeping ourselves and our kids safe and healthy, earning fair pay for a day's work, and steering clear of the predatory business practices that are difficult to spot without graduate-level work in deciphering fine print.

Until this time last year, we had federal agencies teeming with dedicated …

Sept. 20, 2017 by Matt Shudtz
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This op-ed originally ran in the Baltimore Sun.

The full scope of the heartbreaking devastation wrought by hurricanes Harvey and Irma — the human, economic and environmental toll — may not be completely understood for years. As we do what we can to help the victims, it is also time to think about how we can prepare for the inevitable here in Baltimore. After all, Baltimore floods more than most other cities in the United States and gets little help from our inadequate water infrastructure.

Every time a major storm visits our region, millions of gallons of sewage overflow from Baltimore's antiquated sewers. Worse, our sewer system has failed time and again under even the smallest rainfalls. In August, federal, state and city regulators and lawyers finalized a deal to modify the legal settlement originally signed in 2002 to upgrade sewer infrastructure by 2016.

The good news is …

Sept. 19, 2017 by Matt Shudtz
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UPDATE: The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has rescheduled the confirmation hearing originally slated for Wednesday, September 20. The committee now plans to hold the hearing on Wednesday, October 4.

Three influential EPA offices – the Offices of Air, Water, and Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention – share a common attribute. Each is at the center of a defining battle over its future. What is the future of climate regulation at EPA? How will the agency define "waters of the United States" given that the Trump administration is intent on dismantling the Clean Water Rule? And what will public safety officials do with last year's modifications to the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act? EPA has made bold moves under President Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt on each of these fronts, so you'd be forgiven if you thought that a Senate-approved nominee were at the helm …

Aug. 23, 2017 by Matt Shudtz
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Last week, more than two dozen law professors from around the country – many of them CPR Member Scholars – filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging a fresh look at a lower court decision with sweeping implications for the balance of power between states and the federal government. The issue is vital to Louisiana because it affects whether oil and gas companies can be held liable for decades of damage they have done to the state's coastal wetlands.

The case is ambitious, to say the least. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority—East is small government agency that manages a complex system of levees, floodwalls, gates, pumps, retention systems, and more to keep Louisiana's residents safe from flooding. The levee authority does this even while sea levels rise and the spongy wetlands that might aid its work disappear at a rate measured …

Aug. 1, 2017 by Matt Shudtz
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August is the time for back-to-school shopping, leading parents everywhere on the search for the best deals to fill our kids' backpacks. When that search ends at bargain outlets and dollar stores, though, there is a hidden cost many may not be aware of: the health burden from toxic chemicals in cheap consumer goods. Our chemical safety laws do not do enough to protect our children and families, so public health advocates like the Campaign for Healthier Solutions are putting pressure directly on the retailers to ensure the products on their shelves are safe for their customers.

Looking at the recently released regulatory agenda for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), it is clear that any progress toward protecting people from the hazards of toxic chemicals that surround us will have to come from similar grassroots campaigns as long as President Trump keeps …

June 13, 2017 by Matt Shudtz
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To call the timing coincidental doesn't give House Republicans enough credit. Tomorrow, while the fallout from Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony about his connections to Russia dominates most Capitol Hill news coverage, the House will vote on H.R. 1215, a bill designed to strip injured patients of their day in court. Last week, the same legislators voted to undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the cover of James Comey's testimony about President Trump's ham-fisted attempts to interfere in the FBI's Russia investigations.

Russia is not the story here. A foreign government's interference in our elections is certainly a scintillating and important topic, but in the time it takes our many investigators to sort it all out, patients and consumers in the U.S. stand to lose protections just as fundamental to our self-determination as a secure, trustworthy voting system that …

June 12, 2017 by Matt Shudtz
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Susan Bodine, an attorney with significant experience on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is President Trump's nominee to lead the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) at the agency. She is likely to get a friendly audience tomorrow when she appears before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to answer questions about the future of OECA. After all, she's worked closely with everyone on the panel, and there remain some aspects of federal policymaking that still proceed in a ceremonious fashion, even in Trump's America.

But were it not for a scheduling overlap with Attorney General Jeff Sessions' much anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, citizens and communities around the country might have focused more attention on Bodine's hearing. Her future office is where the rubber hits the road regarding the environmental and public …

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June 1, 2020

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May 4, 2020

Baltimore Sun Op-ed: More Needs to Be Done to Protect Our Meat and Poultry Workers

March 5, 2020

How Can Legal and Regulatory Enforcement Help Communities at Risk from the Climate Crisis?

April 15, 2019

CPR Member Scholars to EPA: Clean Water Rule Rollback Based on Bad Law, Weak Science