Regulatory safeguards play a vital role in protecting us from hazards and ensuring that companies that pollute, make unsafe products, and create workplace hazards bear the cost of cleaning up their messes and preventing injuries and deaths. Still, the regulatory system is far from perfect: Rules take too long to develop; enforcement is often feeble; and political pressure from regulated industries has led to weak safeguards.
These systemic problems are made all the more severe by the determination of the Trump administration to undercut sensible safeguards across virtually all aspects of federal regulation. Moreover, the President and his team have taken aim at the the process by which such safeguards are developed, aiming to take a system already slanted in favor of industry profit at the expense of health, safety and the environment, and make it even less protective. For example, where critics of the use of cost-benefit analysis see a system that understates the value of safeguards and overstates the cost of implementing them -- making it difficult to adopt needed protections -- the Trump administration seeks simply to ignore benefits of safeguards, pretending they do not exist. The result is a regulatory system that fails to enforce landmark laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and more.
CPR exposes and opposes efforts by opponents of sensible safeguards to undermine the regulatory system, fighting back against knee-jerk opposition to environmental, health, and safety protections. Below, see what CPR Members Scholars and staff have had to say in reports, testimony, op-eds and more. Use the search box to narrow the list.
Corporate capture of regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency has long been a barrier to promulgation and enforcement of effective safeguards. But under the Trump administration, it has progressed to a dizzying degree of brazenness, helping to power the president’s dangerous assault on public safeguards. In Deregulation on Demand, CPR's James Goodwin, working with researchers from the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, documents the extent to which corporate capture by polluters played a role in the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan.
In the first few months of the Trump administration, Congress invoked a rarely used, little-known law called the Congressional Review Act to repeal a host of health, safety, and environmental regulations adopted during the Obama administration after years of consideration and public input. CPR tracked the congressional assault on our safeguards. See our chart from May 2017 detailing the damage.
In Earmarking Away the Public Interest: How Congressional Republicans Use Antiregulatory Appropriations Riders to Benefit Powerful Polluting Industries, CPR's Thomas McGarity, Richard Murphy and James Goodwin explore the ways Republicans in Congress have worked to undercut regulatory safeguards for health, safety and the environment with budget riders.
In September 2019, CPR released Regulation as Social Justice: A Crowdsourced Blueprint for Building a Progressive Regulatory System, a report that synthesizes recommendations from more than 60 progressive advocates into a comprehensive, action-oriented agenda for rebuilding the regulatory system. To increase the usefulness of the report, CPR has created this web-based library of materials developed by CPR Member Scholars and staff along with our progressive allies that provides more details on the reforms included the report. We will continuously update this library as additional materials become available.
In April 2011, CPR issued a white paper in which a group of Member Scholars and Policy Analysts identified 12 key health, safety, and environmental regulatory actions slowly working their way through the Obama Administration’s regulatory pipeline. In the white paper, Twelve Crucial Health, Safety, and Environmental Regulations: Will the Obama Administration Finish in Time?, the authors warned that the Administration’s failure to adopt a sense of urgency with respect to completing its work had opened the door to the very real prospect that nine of the twelve regulatory actions might get caught up in the backwash of the 2012 presidential campaign, and indeed might never be completed by the current Administration. In this report, CPR follows up to see how the Administration has done.
In her compelling 2007 book, Mother Earth and Uncle Sam: How Pollution and Hollow Government Hurt Our Kids, published by the University of Texas Press, Professor Rena Steinzor highlights the ways in which the United States government has failed to protect children from harm caused by toxic chemicals. She believes these failures – driven by willful under-funding, excessive and misguided use of cost/benefit analysis, distortion of science, and devolution of regulatory authority – have produced a situation in which serious harms that could be readily reduced or eliminated are instead allowed to persist.