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.
Regulation is frequently less successful than it could be, largely because the allocation of authority to regulatory institutions, and the relationships between them, are misunderstood. As a result, attempts to create new regulatory programs or mend under-performing ones are often poorly designed. In their new book, Reorganizing Government: A Functional and Dimensional Framework, Alejandro Camacho and Robert Glicksman explain how past approaches have failed to appreciate the full diversity of alternative approaches to organizing governmental authority.
In 2014, about 300,000 people in and around Charleston, West Virginia, lost their drinking water source when thousands of gallons of a toxic chemical known as MCHM (4-methylcyclohexanemethanol) leaked into the nearby Elk River through a hole in a rusted-out storage tank. In 2015, the wheels of justice began to catch up with the owners of the responsible company when they were indicted by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. Coincidentally, the West Virginia indictments came down on the same day that the Justice Department charged 14 people in Massachusetts for their role in producing and distributing meningitis-tainted steroid injections that killed 64 people. Rena Steinzor in Huffinton Post on prosecuting corporate violence.
Prosecutors have long neglected to hold corporate executives accountable for chronic mistakes that kill and injure workers and customers. Rena Steinzor's first-of-its-kind book analyzes five industrial catastrophes that have killed or sickened consumers and workers or caused irrevocable harm to the environment. From the Texas City refinery explosion to the Upper Big Branch mine collapse to the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and extending to incidents of food and drug contamination that have killed or injured hundreds, the root causes of these preventable disasters include crimes of commission and omission. In accessible and jargon-free language, Steinzor recommends innovative interpretations of existing laws to elevate the prosecution of white-collar crime at the federal and state levels.
Over the last quarter century, much of the focus of federal regulatory policy in the areas of health, safety, and the environment has been gradually redirected away from protecting Americans against various harms and toward protecting corporate interests from the plain meaning of protective statutes. This book delivers precisely what its title promises, a re-imagining of federal policy in these areas, with particular focus on the regulatory process. It identifies the failings of the current approach to regulation and proposes innovative, straightforward, and practical solutions for the 21st Century. The 2004, A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment, was a seminal collaboration among the Member Scholars of the Center for Progressive Reform (then called the Center for Progressive Regulation).
As absurd as it sounds to express the value of human lives, the environment, or conservation in dollars and cents, cost-benefit analysis requires it. Embraced by a growing number of politicians, economic analysts and conservative pundits as the most reasonable way to make decisions on proposed regulations, cost-benefit analysis attempts to convert all relevant factors into monetary terms. Written by economist CPR Member Scholars Frank Ackerman, economist at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, and Lisa Heinzerling, professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center, Priceless is a combative, no-holds-barred debunking of cost-benefit analysis and the derelict logic used to defend it.