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CPR’s 2018 Op-Eds, Part One

Responsive Government

CPR’s Member Scholars and staff are off to a fast start on the op-ed front in 2018. We list them all on our op-ed page, but here’s a quick roundup of pieces they’ve placed so far.

Member Scholar Alejandro Camacho joins his UC-Irvine colleague Michael Robinson-Dorn in a piece published by The Conversation. In “Turning power over to states won’t improve protection for endangered species,” they summarize their recent analysis of state endangered species laws and state funding for enforcement. They write, “Our review shows that most states are poorly positioned to assume primary responsibility for endangered species protection. State laws generally are weaker and less comprehensive than the Endangered Species Act,” and the states themselves are contributing just 5 percent of funding for enforcement of the Act.

In the Bay Journal, Rena Steinzor and David Flores update an op-ed from the end of last year. In “Bay jurisdictions’ no-action climate policy puts restoration in peril,” they take states in the region to task for not adequately accounting for climate change in their Chesapeake Bay restoration planning and call on Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, chair of a key interstate council, to engage in “visible governor-to-governor lobbying.”

In The American Prospect, Tom McGarity pens “The Congressional Review Act: A Damage Assessment.” He examines the history of the Gingrich-era law that creates a congressional fast-track for undoing recently adopted regulations, then sifts through the record-breaking 15 instances in which the GOP-controlled Congress and President Trump used the law to weaken protections for workers, the environment, consumers, investors, victims of gun violence, low-income women, and students. He explains, “The CRA gives opponents a far less transparent opportunity to lobby behind closed doors, to flood the media in congressional districts with advertisements, and to make strategic campaign contributions in pursuit of a joint resolution to kill a regulation outright.”

Steinzor also takes to The Hill to call out Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a series of steps to weaken enforcement and penalties for white collar crime while puffing himself up as a sort of “prosecutor-in-chief of street crime.” In “Justice Department’s enforcement policies make change for the worse,” she writes, “Enforcement of federal environmental, consumer protection, and health and safety laws is at the heart of his job, but unfortunately, Sessions does not seem all that interested in doing it.”

Laurie Ristino, also in The Hill, describes a “legislative free-for-all leading up to the 2018 Farm bill that includes a fistful of bills that shield agri-business from responsibility for its environmental harms.” In “Congress just gave Big Agriculture the pollution green light,” she says the bills amount to a “free pass to pollute” that would hobble local communities’ efforts “to protect themselves from the pollution generated by ever-expanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)” – facilities “that can house thousands of animals, generating tons of feces and related toxic air emissions and water pollution.”

Finally, in The Washington Post, Lisa Heinzerling pushes back against the media interpretation that President Trump is wiping out the Obama regulatory legacy. In “Trump is losing his war on regulations,” she writes that the “courts are not receiving the first phase of Trump’s deregulatory surge well. Federal courts have rejected the administration’s attempt to delay or suspend existing rules on such diverse matters as lead paint, energy efficiency and methane emissions from oil and gas facilities. Other pending cases may suffer similar fates…. The courts have found elementary legal mistakes in the Trump administration’s approach to agency decisions. Specifically, they have concluded that the administration has misread legal provisions, ignored factual evidence and bypassed required processes. And the courts have done so without breaking a judicial sweat.” She goes on to conclude that the administration’s poor batting average in court “bodes ill for its success in the next phase, which involves not just delaying or suspending existing rules, but actually removing them from the rule books. This effort will require fidelity to statutory requirements, painstaking review of lengthy, complex and technical records, and respectful attention to required processes. It is not clear yet that the administration has the temperament to undertake this patient work. If it does not, it has more losses to come in the courts.”

Responsive Government

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