June 7, 2016 by Hannah Wiseman

Local Governments' Lost Voice in Energy Decisions

The Colorado Supreme Court's decisions last month holding that local governments in Colorado could not ban or place long-term moratoria on hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") added to the growing list of states that have preempted local control over this oil and gas production method. This is a troublesome trend and one that calls for closer scrutiny as more states follow this path.

Local governments are "merely" arms of the state, and, therefore, states do have the power to take back the broad land use authority they have historically delegated to local decision makers if they so choose. This is true even in states that have granted broad home rule authority to local governments through their constitutions, although the ability of a legislature or court to take back constitutionally granted home rule is somewhat more limited.

In Colorado, for example, the state constitution makes clear that local law may supersede state law when the local law involves matters of local concern, like decisions to implement sales and use taxes or training and certifying sheriffs in a particular way. But the Colorado Supreme Court did not interpret the regulation of fracking to involve a matter of purely local concern due to its …

June 6, 2016 by James Goodwin

Tomorrow, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight is set to hold a hearing investigating the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). UMRA is striking because it was passed in 1995 as part of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich's attacks on the U.S. regulatory system – an era that is reminiscent of today's strident anti-regulatory zeal. Indeed, today's anti-regulatory members of Congress continue to explore ways to use UMRA as a weapon for kneecapping agencies they oppose on political grounds or that are inconvenient to their corporate benefactors. 

The essential premise of UMRA is far from objectionable – that federal agencies should collaborate with state, local, and tribal partners when developing new safeguards. But, as CPR Member Scholar and Board Member Rob Glicksman will testify tomorrow, the pursuit of UMRA …

June 6, 2016 by Daniel Farber

The political debate over regulation tends to focus on the regulations themselves. But enforcing the regulations is just as important. Despite what you might think from the howls of business groups and conservative commentators, the enforcement system is not nearly as strong as it should be.

Twenty years after passage of the Clean Water Act, roughly ten thousand discharges still had no permits whatsoever, 12-13 percent percent of major private and municipal sources were in a "Significant Noncompliance" status during a single three-month period alone, and another 5 percent avoided that status only because they were already on extended compliance schedules. Other studies showed considerable variation in compliance levels between states. Some of the non-compliance may not have resulted in serious pollution problems. Still, these figures were cause for serious concern.

Unfortunately, environmental enforcement problems seem to have continued into this century. A 2012 report by GAO …

June 3, 2016 by Matthew Freeman

We have an in-house guideline about bragging on CPRBlog, which is that we try to keep it to a minimum. It’s not so much a matter of modesty as it is that we think the work our Member Scholars and staff do speaks for itself. But we’re going to suspend our usual practice for a moment to note that a recent list of the 20 most-cited administrative and/or environmental law faculty in the United States includes seven CPR Member Scholars.

We’ve always known that our Member Scholars, to deploy a particularly inappropriate metaphor, cut a wide swath across the environmental law landscape. It’s not by accident, of course. We began with a nucleus of progressive scholars at the top of their profession and have been busy recruiting and talent-spotting ever since.

So, proudly and a little shamelessly, here are the seven CPR …

June 2, 2016 by David Driesen

During the last few years, airlines have increased their reliance on "bait-and-switch" scheduling. They induce travelers to choose their airline based on advertised routes and schedules. They know that especially good routes are valuable and generally charge more for a good route than a bad one. Long after travelers have taken the bait, often paying more than the lowest available price to avoid delay-prone airports, long layovers, and multiple stops, the airlines simply switch around the schedule. While many of these changes can be minor, changing departure and arrival times by 10 or 20 minutes, increasingly airlines feel no compunction at all about completely tearing up the deal they made, adding stops, drastically increasing layover times, and routing the hapless traveler through a different city than she would have selected when she had a choice. They often make these changes just a few weeks in advance, when …

June 1, 2016 by Matthew Freeman

CPR’s Rena Steinzor and Katherine Tracy had an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee over the weekend highlighting the reluctance of police and prosecutors to treat worker deaths as if they were anything but mere accidents. In fact, they’re often the result of illegal cost-cutting and safety shortcuts by employers, behavior that sometimes warrants criminal charges. They write:

When a worker dies because a trench collapses, and it turns out that managers sacrificed safety to get the job done faster, that’s a crime. When managers operate factories with equipment that doesn’t have an accessible emergency shut-off switch and an employee is crushed or loses a limb, those managers should be indicted. But with few exceptions, police and prosecutors treat worker deaths and injuries as unforeseeable “accidents” that can’t be prevented. So too many companies think they can save money by cutting corners and …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
June 30, 2016

New Report: When OSHA Gives Discounts on Danger, Workers Are Put at Risk

June 28, 2016

Memo to the Next President: End the Era of Government Bashing

June 22, 2016

Federal District Court: Feds May Not Regulate Fracking on Federal Lands

June 21, 2016

Statutory Standing After the Spokeo Decision

June 20, 2016

Do Revisions to Nation's Toxic Chemical Law Represent Reform?

June 17, 2016

EPA Releases 2016 Assessments for Chesapeake Bay States

June 14, 2016

Latest House Anti-Regulatory Package Is Beyond Stale