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David Flores | September 25, 2020
On September 24, CPR and Waterkeeper Alliance convened the first in a series of webinars on climate-driven pollution and chemical disaster. The toxic floodwaters phenomenon only exists because of a set of intersecting policy failures, and it will take a bold and sophisticated community of activists to achieve intersecting reforms that prevent the harm of climate-driven pollution. Panelists Jamie Brunkow, Jordan Macha, and Victor Flatt are but a few within that community of climate and environmental advocates and scholars.
Robert Verchick | September 25, 2020
For the Member Scholars and staff of the Center for Progressive Reform, Justice Ginsburg's passing is a moment for reflection, a time to celebrate her achievements, mourn what has been lost, and gird for what is to come. Because her death has triggered such an outpouring of emotion, we asked the CPR family to offer reflections on her life and legacy and have gathered them on our website. I encourage you to take a few moments to read them.
James Goodwin | September 24, 2020
An underappreciated side effect of the modern conservative movement now epitomized by Trumpism is its dogged pursuit of any legal argument to support “the cause,” no matter how ridiculous or specious. Long-settled questions like nondelegation and the constitutionality of independent regulatory agencies are suddenly, if bizarrely, up for grabs again. Add to this list a new line of argument – now germinating like a mushroom spore in horse manure – that posits that citizen suit provisions, such as those included in the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, are unconstitutional infringements upon the so-called unitary executive.
Daniel Farber | September 22, 2020
With Sen. Mitt Romney's announcement that he would support consideration of a nominee before the election, it now seems virtually certain that President Trump will be able to appoint a sixth conservative justice. How will that affect future climate policy? Here is a preliminary threat assessment.
Rebecca Bratspies | September 21, 2020
Recently, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler spoke to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the EPA's founding. He used the opportunity to reiterate the agency's commitment to its “straightforward” mission to “protect human health and the environment.” He also emphasized that the agency’s mission meant “ensuring that all Americans – regardless of their zip code – have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean land to live, work, and play upon.” Yet just last week, EPA postponed an internal speaker series on environmental justice. The reason for this postponement: the appalling suggestion, as per a recent White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) memo, that recognizing racial disparities in environmental protection is somehow "un-American."
Joel A. Mintz, Victor Flatt | September 17, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a wave of worrisome and needless regulatory relaxations that have increased pollution across the United States. Recent reporting by the Associated Press and other outlets has documented more than 3,000 pandemic-based requests from polluters to state agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for waivers of environmental requirements. Numerous state governments, with the tacit encouragement of the EPA, went along with many of those requests.
Rena Steinzor | September 16, 2020
Presidents since Ronald Reagan have endorsed the assumption that government is too big and too intrusive. Yet the figurative poster children targeted by these chill words have been public health agencies heavily dependent on science-based decision-making as opposed to—as just one example—the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. No president has spent any concerted amount of time explaining how protective public health interventions, including regulation, make life better. No president has praised the civil servants who weather seemingly endless—and enervating—disputes over science and law that make it possible to deliver those protections. For the sake of the civil service and its broken morale, and for the American people, who are exhausted and rendered hopeless by the indiscriminate attacks on the government’s competence to keep the population safe, the next president should use the bully pulpit to advance a positive narrative about government’s accomplishments.
Joel A. Mintz | September 15, 2020
As I noted in a previous post, the pending case of United States v. DTE Energy, Inc. tacitly raises issues concerning the constitutionality of both Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) and the citizen suit provisions of environmental laws. This second post considers another constitutional issue that may emerge in the DTE Energy litigation: whether SEP agreements -- and citizen suits more generally -- interfere with a “core executive function” of the president and executive branch and longstanding constitutional notions of separation of powers. To resolve that question soundly, one must look to the text of the Constitution itself, the Federalist Papers, and the relevant body of law that the lower federal courts have already developed.
Joel A. Mintz | September 14, 2020
Over the past few years, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has shown increasing hostility to the use of Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) in settlements of federal environmental enforcement cases. Aside from a series of ever-tightening SEP policies, however, DOJ has never asserted in court that these projects are unconstitutional. At least not yet.