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.
The Constitution’s federalist structures protect states’ sovereignty but also create a powerful federal government that can preempt and thereby displace the authority of state and local governments and courts to respond to a social challenge. Despite this preemptive power, Congress and agencies have seldom preempted state power. Instead, they typically have embraced concurrent, overlapping power. Recent legislative, agency, and court actions, however, reveal a newly aggressive use of federal preemption, sometimes even preempting more protective state law. Preemption choice fundamentally involves issues of institutional choice and regulatory design: should federal actors displace or work in conjunction with other legal institutions? This book moves logically through each preemption choice step, ranging from underlying theory to constitutional history, to preemption doctrine, to assessment of when preemptive regimes make sense and when state regulation and common law should retain latitude for dynamism and innovation.
For the last decade, Americans’ right to sue manufacturers whose products cause them injury or harm has been under attack. It’s been a quiet war, but it has been fierce, raging simultaneously in the courts, federal regulatory agencies, and Congress. The conflict is over what is called agency preemption, and the fundamental question is whether and under what circumstances regulations by federal agencies may preempt – which is to say, trump – state laws allowing victims to bring suit against companies whose actions cause them harm. Read about Thomas McGarity's book on the topic.
What do we know about the possible poisons that industrial technologies leave in our air and water? How reliable is the science that federal regulators and legislators use to protect the public from dangerous products? Drawing together a host of little-known but dramatic cases, Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research, by CPR Member Scholars Thomas O. McGarity and Wendy Wagner, comprehensively documents what has been suspected for years: how extensively scientific data are misused and abused in regulatory and tort law. Sound science is critical to the public policy process, particularly where health and safety issues are concerned. But as Professors McGarity and Wagner show, many interest groups do all they can to influence and undermine independent and honest research, in an effort to bend science to their ideological will.
Published in July 2006, Rescuing Science from Politics debuted chapters by the nation's leading academics in law, science, and philosophy who explore ways that the law can be abused by special interests to intrude on the way scientists conduct research. The book begins by establishing non-controversial principles of good scientific practice. These principles then serve as the benchmark against which each chapter author compares how science is misused in a specific regulatory setting and assist in isolating problems in the integration of science by the regulatory process.
Sophisticated Sabotage: The Intellectual Games Used to Subvert Responsible Regulation, by CPR's Thomas O. McGarity and Sidney Shapiro, and David Bollier is a searing look at the methods and tools used to subvert and defeat regulations designed to protect health, safety, and the environment. In clear, accessible terms, the authors describe how dubious risk assessment and economic models have come to dominate regulatory decision-making, and to stymie urgently needed protective regulations, thus putting Americans at serious risk from avoidable hazards. Topics include cost-benefit analysis, quantitative risk assessment, the monetization of intangible values, comparative risk assessment and cost-effectiveness analysis, and related sub-disciplines.
In Can We Afford the Future?, Frank Ackerman offers a refreshing look at the economics of climate change, explaining how the arbitrary assumptions of conventional theories get in the way of understanding this urgent problem. The benefits of climate protection are vital but priceless, and hence often devalued in economists’ cost-benefit calculations. Preparation for the most predictable outcomes of global warming is less important than protection against the growing risk of catastrophic change; massive investment in new, low carbon technologies and industries should be thought of as life insurance for the planet. Ackerman makes an impassioned plea to construct a better economics, arguing that the solutions are affordable and the alternative is unthinkable. After all, if we can't afford the future, what are we saving our money for?