The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs may be the most important group of bureaucrats many Americans have never heard of. But CPR's Member Scholars and staff keep careful watch on the office of the so-called "regulatory czar." Over the years, the office has come to play an increasingly destructive role in the regulatory process, weakening, gutting, and killing rules designed to protect health, safety and the environment. In this web article, James Goodwin lays out the case for a radical overhaul of OIRA's mission and methods.
On June 5, 2019, the Center for Progressive Reform hosted a first-of-its-kind, one-day convening that brought together a diverse group of more than 60 progressive activists and academics. Our purpose was to begin the process of developing a progressive vision of the U.S. regulatory system – one that is not only robust and responsive enough to meet the immediate challenge of protecting people and the environment against unacceptable risks, but that also is institutionally designed to promote the broader social goals of justice and equity. CPR's James Goodwin synthesized the ideas into a report.
Following up on CPR's June 2019 Regulation as Social Justice Conference, and the subsequent report on it, on December 11, 2019, Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and CPR's Amy Sinden and James Goodwin discussed the future of regulation, and how it can do a better job of serving the interests of the political dispossessed.
Corporate capture of regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency has long been a barrier to promulgation and enforcement of effective safeguards. But under the Trump administration, it has progressed to a dizzying degree of brazenness, helping to power the president’s dangerous assault on public safeguards. In Deregulation on Demand, CPR's James Goodwin, working with researchers from the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, documents the extent to which corporate capture by polluters played a role in the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan.
In September 2019, CPR released Regulation as Social Justice: A Crowdsourced Blueprint for Building a Progressive Regulatory System, a report that synthesizes recommendations from more than 60 progressive advocates into a comprehensive, action-oriented agenda for rebuilding the regulatory system. To increase the usefulness of the report, CPR has created this web-based library of materials developed by CPR Member Scholars and staff along with our progressive allies that provides more details on the reforms included the report. We will continuously update this library as additional materials become available.
In The Hill, Rena Steinzor writes, "Over the last two years, we've seen a raft of bills aimed at hobbling federal agencies as they work to write regulations implementing such landmark legislation as the Clean Air Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Water Act, as well as newer laws like the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank banking reform law. Their efforts are backed by a flood of anti-regulation rhetoric from think tanks and industry associations that warn of a tsunami of regulation under President Obama. A tsunami? Hardly. The truth is that the Obama Administration hasn't been anywhere near as aggressive as it could and should be."
Writing for The Hill, William Buzbee describes the implications of the Supreme Court's ruling against the Trump administration's gutting of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Dreamers) program. "The court majority, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, rejected the Trump administration's brazen efforts to evade judicial scrutiny, while also strengthening the regulatory rule of law fundamentals that the administration has flouted with regularity. This ruling will become central to dozens of pending battles over other Trump regulatory rollbacks," he writes.
Rebuilding our regulatory system is a key though often overlooked imperative for the broader progressive movement as it works to achieve its vision of a more equitable and just society. The rebuilding will ultimately require legislation, but considerable progress can be achieved through unilateral actions by the president, including executive orders. Building on its previous work to advance the cause of progressive regulatory reform, CPR is compiling on this page resources and materials that should inform the development of new executive orders for progressive regulation that would replace Executive Order 12866 and any subsequent executive orders and memoranda built on its framework.
In this briefing memo for participants in CPR's June 5, 2019, Regulation as Social Justice conference, James Goodwin sets the table for discussions aimed at devising reforms for the regulatory system so that it can do a better job promoting social justice and addressing unmet community needs.
In his latest article on the need for regulatory reform, James Goodwin writes that overhauling cost-benefit analysis is crucial to restoring scientific integrity. He writes, "blind-to-reality calculations are sadly commonplace in the practice of the unique form of cost-benefit analysis that now dominates in the U.S. regulatory system. Defenders of the approach claim that it makes regulatory decision-making more 'rational' and insulates the process against improper political or subjective considerations. Yet ... the methodological techniques this form of cost-benefit analysis uses can be arbitrary, unscientific, ethically dubious, and at times even absurd."