Regulatory Policy

Regulatory safeguards play a vital role in protecting us from hazards and ensuring that companies that pollute, make unsafe products, and create workplace hazards bear the cost of cleaning up their messes and preventing injuries and deaths. Still, the regulatory system is far from perfect: Rules take too long to develop; enforcement is often feeble; and political pressure from regulated industries has led to weak safeguards.

These systemic problems are made all the more severe by the determination of the Trump administration to undercut sensible safeguards across virtually all aspects of federal regulation. Moreover, the President and his team have taken aim at the the process by which such safeguards are developed, aiming to take a system already slanted in favor of industry profit at the expense of health, safety and the environment, and make it even less protective. For example, where critics of the use of cost-benefit analysis see a system that understates the value of safeguards and overstates the cost of implementing them -- making it difficult to adopt needed protections -- the Trump administration seeks simply to ignore benefits of safeguards, pretending they do not exist. The result is a regulatory system that fails to enforce landmark laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and more.

CPR exposes and opposes efforts by opponents of sensible safeguards to undermine the regulatory system, fighting back against knee-jerk opposition to environmental, health, and safety protections. Below, see what CPR Members Scholars and staff have had to say in reports, testimony, op-eds and more. Use the search box to narrow the list.

Leaked Opinion Overturning Roe and Casey Abandons the Rule of Law, Damages the Integrity of the Supreme Court

The draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion leaked yesterday warrants unqualified condemnation and sends a chilling warning that longstanding protections — in areas from health, safety, and the environment, to equity and equality — are in grave danger. The Court's conservative majority has made clear it is willing to overturn our constitutional right to reproductive freedom and privacy and abandon precedent when it suits its ideological whims. It is also taking an extreme activist approach to the cases before it, making law from the bench. In doing so, the majority is abandoning the rule of law and severely damaging the Court's integrity.

Type: News Releases (May 3, 2022)
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Author(s): Minor Sinclair
New Report Offers Tools to Strengthen 'Energy Democracy' at Key Federal Agency

The federal government can and should do more to help the public meaningfully engage in the nation’s energy policy, leveling the playing field for them against corporate special interests with outsized access and influence over energy decisions. These decisions have profound implications for public and environmental health, our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change, our national security, and more, according to a new report by the Center for Progressive Reform.

Type: News Releases (April 27, 2022)
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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s New Office of Public Participation: A Promising Experiment in 'Energy Democracy'

It is past time for federal regulatory agencies to better engage the public and incorporate their unique on-the-ground perspectives to inform their work and make better, fairer decisions. To its credit, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is taking steps to do so and has created a new leadership role focused on environmental justice and equity. A major structural change is also underway: after decades of delay, FERC is now creating a new Office of Public Participation (OPP) to empower the public through more inclusive and responsive policymaking processes. This report provides core constituencies — agency policymakers, advocates for energy justice, and members of the public who are concerned about our energy future — with the information they need to ensure the OPP achieves its goal of promoting greater energy democracy at FERC. It begins by describing FERC’s role in energy policy and how its actions impact Americans; it then reviews FERC’s progress thus far in constituting the OPP. Finally, it offers recommendations to ensure the OPP achieves its goals and lessons to enhance regulatory democracy and equity across all federal regulatory agencies.

Type: Reports (April 27, 2022)
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Author(s): Shelley Welton, Hannah Wiseman, James Goodwin, Alexandra Klass
Demolition Agenda: A Conversation with Tom McGarity on New Book about Trump Administration’s Corruption

On Thursday, May 19, the Center for Progressive Reform hosted a conversation with Member Scholar and Board Member Tom McGarity on his new book, Demolition Agenda.

Type: Webinars (April 6, 2022)
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Testimony to the House Small Business Committee on the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy

On March 2, 2022, Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin submitted written testimony to the U.S. House Small Business Committee. His testimony examined the activities and claims of the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy and some repeatedly debunked research it sponsored. He also refuted several misleading and false claims about the impact of regulations on small businesses.

Type: Legislative Testimony (March 2, 2022)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
Testimony to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard

Center for Progressive Reform Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin testified on the importance of reinstating the "necessary and appropriate" finding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's mercury and air toxics rule. The finding, rolled back during the Trump administration's deregulatory frenzy, is essential to ensure the rule stands and continues protecting all Americans — particularly children — from mercury and other dangerous toxins.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Feb. 24, 2022)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
Regulatory Government Is Democratic Government

The regulatory system is quite literally democracy in action, as it invites and empowers members of the public to work with their government to implement policies to keep our drinking water free of contaminants, ensure that the food on store shelves is safe to eat, prevent crooked banks from cheating customers, and much, much more. In fact, one of the defining attributes of the federal regulatory system, as the administrative law expert William Funk has noted, is the myriad opportunities it offers for public participation throughout the policy implementation process, from agenda setting to enforcement.

Type: Op-Eds (Feb. 5, 2022)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
The Supreme Court’s Plan to Block Climate Action We Haven’t Even Taken Yet

On Feb. 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the first of an expected wave of cases challenging governmental action to address the climate crisis. The court’s grant of four petitions seeking review in this case—two by coal companies and two by states—portends that the six conservative justices will erect significant barriers to meaningful climate policy and will continue to interfere with democratic governance in disregard of the rule of law.

Type: Op-Eds (Jan. 25, 2022)
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Author(s): Karen Sokol
Enron's Collapse 20 Years Later -- Lessons Not Learned

In December 2001, the wunderkind energy company Enron collapsed spectacularly, destroying $67 billion in assets held by mutual funds, retirees and individual stock investors. Some commentary 20 years later has focused on how Enron heralded the first of companies making money by “disruption"—even as some of this disruption also led to negative impacts on society. There is no doubt that, like Facebook, even Enron’s legitimate money-making enterprises had some negative spillovers as a side effect of wealth creation by innovation. But the problem isn’t with the idea of seeking innovation or testing disruptive ways of doing things; the problem is that government regulators, then and now, have been starved of their ability to effectively channel market forces and private innovation to wealth creation while avoiding negative externalities. Truly supporting the private sector, innovation, and wealth creation, requires more government regulation, not less.

Type: Op-Eds (Dec. 27, 2021)
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Author(s): Victor Flatt
Testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law on Constructive Reforms to the Administrative Procedure Act

On December 1, CPR Member Scholar Wendy Wagner testified about the need for constructive reforms to the Administrative Procedure Act and the way federal agencies develop public protections for our health, safety, and environment. Wagner presented her testimony to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law.

Type: Legislative Testimony (Dec. 2, 2021)
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Author(s): Wendy Wagner

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