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.

A Legal Pillar of Environmental Justice Is Now Under Attack

A few weeks ago, the Army Corps of Engineers made a startling announcement: It would give Sharon Lavigne and her neighbors in St. James Parish, La., a chance to tell their stories. The fact one of the world’s largest chemical companies has fought for years to keep Lavigne quiet tells you how commanding her stories are. Those stories may stop this particular company from building a multi-billion dollar chemical plant surrounding her neighborhood. for this, we can thank a simple law, signed by President Nixon in 1970, called the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Unlike other environmental laws, NEPA doesn’t tell agencies what choices they must make — like where to erect a levee or whether to permit a plastics plant. But it does insist their choices be informed. So, before the Army Corps can approve a company’s wetlands development permit it has to study whatever effects that chemical plant might have on the health of people in that community and on the properties they own. Corporate polluters recognize the power of process, too. For decades, they have waged a stealthy campaign to rig key procedural rules in their favor. Not surprisingly, NEPA is one of the main targets in this campaign. Corporate interests are using fast-moving infrastructure legislation as a vehicle for dismantling crucial procedural safeguards afforded by NEPA, wrongly claiming that the law stands in the way of a green energy grid, expanded mass transit, and other aspects of a green economy.

Type: Op-Eds (Sept. 1, 2021)
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Author(s): James Goodwin, Robert Verchick
Joint Comment to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on Updating Public Participation Guidelines

CPR Policy Analyst Katlyn Schmitt joined the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative in a public comment urging the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to update its public participation guidelines. They urged DEQ to ensure meaningful public involvement in the regulatory activities of the state — including the relative state boards that make decisions related to air pollution, water pollution, and waste management.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Aug. 20, 2021)
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Author(s): Katlyn Schmitt
Regulatory Analysis Is Too Important to Be Left to the Economists

The surging COVID-19 delta variant is sending thousands of people to the hospital, killing others, and straining several states' hospital systems to their breaking point. The climate crisis is hurting people, communities and countries as we write this piece, with apocalyptic wildfires, crippling droughts and raging floodwaters. Systemic racism continues unabated, leading to vast economic and environmental injustices. It's beyond time for urgent action, but to get there, the federal government must reform the opaque, biased method it uses to evaluate our nation's public health, economic and environmental protections.

Type: Op-Eds (Aug. 16, 2021)
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Author(s): Sidney Shapiro, Melissa Lutrell
Comment to the U.S. EPA on Preventing Chemical Disasters and Cost-Benefit Analysis

In a comment to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), CPR Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin urges the agency to use any eventual rulemaking within the Risk Management Program to rework how cost-benefit analysis is used to evaluate rules. Goodwin encourages EPA to work with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to take otherwise unquantifiable benefits into account and maximize protections from chemical disasters.

Type: Letters to Agencies (July 15, 2021)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
Center for Progressive Reform Welcomes New Board Members

The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) is pleased to announce three new members on its Board of Directors. Each brings a wealth of experience and unique perspectives to CPR and will enrich and strengthen the organization’s work toward racial justice and a sustainable planet. Joining the Board are Alejandro Camacho, a law professor and longtime CPR Member Scholar; Sekita Grant, a leader in environmental health and justice; and Ajulo Othow, a leader in equitable renewable energy solutions.

Type: News Releases (July 8, 2021)
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Author(s): Brian Gumm
Preventing "Double Disasters"

It’s past time to address “double disasters” — hazardous chemical releases by industrial facilities that are worsened by inadequate action in the face of conditions of climate change and natural disasters. As the global climate crisis intensifies, coastal and inland communities are increasingly at risk of natural disasters. When industrial facilities in these communities fail to adequately prepare for extreme storms, wildfires, earthquakes, heat waves, floods, rising sea levels, and other natural disasters, hazardous chemicals stored onsite can ignite, explode, and there may be dangerous and even catastrophic releases that threaten the health and safety of workers and the public. This can lead to a cascading series of harms, including toxic chemical exposures, on top of the effects of the storm itself. This brief spotlights this urgent issue, proposes policy solutions, and calls on federal leaders to take bold and prompt action to solve this problem.

Type: Reports (July 7, 2021)
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Author(s): David Flores, Darya Minovi
Department of Labor's Emergency Temporary Standard Too Weak to Protect All Workers from COVID-19

The Labor Department’s emergency COVID standard, released today, is too limited and weak to effectively protect all workers from the ongoing pandemic. Workers justifiably expected an enforceable general industry standard to protect them from COVID-19, and the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has been calling for such a standard since June 2020. But what emerged after more than six weeks of closed-door White House review was a largely unenforceable voluntary guidance document, with only health care workers receiving the benefit of an enforceable standard.

Type: News Releases (June 10, 2021)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
Joint Letter to President Biden and the EPA on Strengthening Select Air Pollution Standards

CPR joined dozens of public health, environmental, and other public interest organizations in urging the Biden White House and the EPA to strengthen air pollution standards for ozone and particulate matter. Both substances can cause or worsen a wide range of serious health problems, including asthma, other lung diseases, and cardiovascular conditions.

Type: Letters to Agencies (June 10, 2021)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
Making Regulations Work for All: A Webinar on Biden’s First 100 Days

On Wednesday, May 5, CPR held a webinar assessing the Biden-Harris administration’s early moves on reforming how the federal government creates standards and safeguards — both to undo the damaging legacy of the Trump administration and to build a foundation for making regulations work for all people and our planet.

Type: Webinars (May 5, 2021)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
Now That Earmarks Are Back, It's Time to Ban 'Poison Pill' Riders

Making Congress functional again is having a moment. The debates over ending the filibuster and legislation to prevent hyper-partisan congressional districts have received the most attention in this space so far. But lawmakers did quietly take an important step forward on mending congressional dysfunction when they reinstated the practice of earmarking the federal budget, reversing a decade-old ban. Lawmakers should build on this fix to the budget process by cracking down on "poison pill" appropriations riders, a gimmick that proliferated in the vacuum left by the earmark ban.

Type: Op-Eds (April 24, 2021)
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Author(s): James Goodwin

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