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Rena Steinzor | January 9, 2009

The Sunstein Appointment: More Here Than Meets the Eye

Thursday’s big news on the regulatory front was that President-elect Obama plans to nominate Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein to be the head of the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) – the so-called “regulatory czar” of the federal government. The appointment means that those of us expecting […]

Matthew Freeman | January 8, 2009

More Midnight Regs

The reporters of ProPublica continue their impressive coverage of the Bush Administration’s midnight regulations. Most of the rest of the media behaves as if the nation’s 43rd President is already out of power. But the nonprofit, wave-of-the-future-if-we’re-lucky investigative outfit has built an impressive, and frankly distressing, list of last-minute regulations – in the process driving […]

Matthew Freeman | January 7, 2009

The Economist on Dying Seas

The January 3 issue of The Economist Magazine offers a special report on the challenges confronting the world’s oceans.  The nine-part package of stories covers a range of topics, including global warming, dying coral reefs, bottom trawling, dumping of sewage and trash, oxygen-choking algae blooms resulting from too many nutrients (often from fertilizer runoff), overfishing, […]

Rena Steinzor | January 6, 2009

Regulators Cozying Up to Regulated Industry

A story in the Washington Post over the holidays offers up a nice case study in how regulated industries and federal agencies charged with regulating them have grown far too cozy. The story drew back the curtain on how the manufacturer of a toxic metal called beryllium managed to defeat efforts by the Occupational Safety […]

Matt Shudtz | January 5, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities

Last week, the New York Times ran two stories that present a fascinating dichotomy in people’s response to rising home-heating costs.   On Friday, Elisabeth Rosenthal reported from the central German town of Darmstadt about “passive houses” that employ high-tech designs to provide warm air and hot water using incredibly small amounts of energy – […]

Yee Huang | January 2, 2009

Clean Water Enforcement: Sharp Eyes Reveal Dull Tools

Chairmen Henry Waxman and James Oberstar have been busy sharpening water protection tools on the Congressional whetstone. In a memorandum to President-elect Obama, Waxman, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Oberstar, chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, detail serious deterioration of Clean Water Act (CWA) enforcement. The investigation […]

Matthew Freeman | December 31, 2008

Shining a Light on CFLs

The Environmental Working Group is out with a new guide to Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs), and they warn that not all CFLs are environmentally equal.   CFLs offer huge energy-consumption and length-of-use advantages over traditional incandescent bulbs, but they introduce one noteworthy environmental problem: each CFL has a tiny amount of mercury inside the […]

Matthew Freeman | December 30, 2008

Do Lost Statistical Lives Really Count?

The Fresno Bee’s Mark Grossi ran a piece this weekend about local deaths caused by air pollution. It must have left readers shaking their heads; indeed, that seems to have been the point. Here’s the lede: The more than 800 people who died prematurely this year from breathing dirty San Joaquin Valley air are worth […]

Matthew Freeman | December 29, 2008

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Effort Takes Its Lumps

David Fahrenthold had a powerful article in Saturday’s Washington Post on the failures of Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts. The lede: Government administrators in charge of an almost $6 billion cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay tried to conceal for years that their effort was failing — even issuing reports overstating their progress — to preserve the […]