Consumer Protection

Is our food safe? What about the drugs we take? The cars we drive and the products we buy? Are the banks, credit card companies and lenders dealing fairly with us? In each case, federal agencies are charged with making sure the answer is “yes.” But examples of unsafe products and unfair practices abound in the marketplace.

For years, General Motors hid from regulators evidence that an ignition switch the company used in its Cobalts, Opels, Pontiacs, and Saturns had such a hair trigger that a light brush by the driver’s hand or knee would shut down the engine, disabling air bags and power steering. The resulting loss of control caused at least 13 fatal accidents. GM's ability to avoid detection for so many years says as much about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's weak enforcement record as anything.

Other examples abound. From tainted peanut butter to toxic drywall, to lead-laden imported toys, such instances of unsafe food, drugs, automobiles and products are all too dangerous evidence of a failed system of regulation and enforcement. Often the failure is the result of neglect – a lack of political will to spend the money required to conduct meaningful research and enforcement. Sometimes the cause is ideological: a conviction that safeguards interfere unduly with industry profits. Either way, the result is that industry is spared the costs of being accountable for unsafe production practices, shifting those costs instead to consumers in the form of injuries, illness and worse.

Below, see what CPR Members Scholars and staff have had to say about it in reports, testimony, op-eds and more. Use the search box to narrow the list.

Letter to EPA re IRIS toxics database, response to American Chemistry Council misinterpretation

Letter to EPA re Integrated Risk Information System database, in response to American Chemistry Council misinterpretation of IRIS-related riders in recent budget legislation

Type: Letters to Agencies (Dec. 22, 2011)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Matt Shudtz
Rena Steinzor's testimony on industry efforts to delay EPA's toxic chemical risk assessments for the IRIS database

Rena Steinzor's July 14, 2011, testimony on industry efforts to delay EPA's toxic chemical risk assessments for the Integrated Risk Information System database

Type: Legislative Testimony (July 14, 2011)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
Letter to OMB re EPA's Integrated Risk Information System database, responding to American Chemistry Council

Letter to OMB re EPA's Integrated Risk Information System database, responding to American Chemistry Council letter calling for submission of all current IRIS evaluations to be submitted to the National Academy of Sciences, in an effort to "grind this process to a slow walk."

Type: Letters to Agencies (July 8, 2011)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Wendy Wagner
Letter to OIRA re Chemicals of Concern listings

Letter to OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein re Chemicals of Concern listings under TSCA

Type: Letters to Agencies (June 20, 2011)
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Author(s): Wendy Wagner, Rena Steinzor, Noah Sachs
Opening the Industry Playbook: Myths and Truths in the Debate Over BPA Regulation

Opening the Industry Playbook: Myths and Truths in the Debate Over BPA Regulation, CPR White Paper 1107

Type: Reports (May 26, 2011)
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Author(s): Thomas McGarity, Rena Steinzor, Matt Shudtz
Twelve Crucial Health, Safety, and Environmental Regulations: Will the Obama Administration Finish in Time?

Twelve Crucial Health, Safety, and Environmental Regulations: Will the Obama Administration Finish in Time?, CPR White Paper 1106

Type: Reports (April 19, 2011)
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Author(s): Amy Sinden, Rena Steinzor, Matt Shudtz, James Goodwin, Yee Huang
Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants

In his 2011 book, Legally Poisoned: How the Law Puts Us at Risk from Toxicants, published by Harvard Univesity Press, CPR Member Scholar Carl Cranor offers up a scientifically rigorous legal analysis arguing that just as pharmaceuticals and pesticides cannot be sold without pre-market testing, other chemical products should be subject to the same safety measures. Cranor shows, in terrifying detail, what risks we run, while making clear that it is entirely possible to design a less dangerous commercial world.

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Author(s): Carl Cranor
Corrective Lenses for IRIS: Reforms to Improve EPA's Integrated Risk Information System
Type: Reports (Oct. 25, 2010)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Wendy Wagner, Matt Shudtz

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