To protect and empower the public, government must be people-driven and people-focused. We focus on strengthening crucial but often overlooked democratic institutions, such as the regulatory process and the courts, so they offer a fair and durable forum in which people, communities, and advocates can define and defend the common good.
White House Reform
Political operatives often delay and weaken regulations designed to protect people and the planet. The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) runs many proposed safeguards through a gauntlet known as cost-benefit analysis. Though it sounds objective, it is not. It often inflates the cost of proposed rules and minimizes or ignores their benefits. We’re working to transform OIRA into a hub for the constructive coordination of agency rulemaking. Doing so would remove a major roadblock to effective safeguards for people and our environment.
- The Biden-Harris administration should articulate a positive vision of the regulatory process and public protections.
- President Biden should issue a new executive order to replace the problematic existing one (known as Executive Order 12866).
- Biden should nominate an OIRA administrator committed to advancing the public interest, constructively coordinating agency rulemaking, and ensuring that safeguards are equitable and effective.
- CPR initiative: Beyond 12866
- Paper: The Progressive Case Against OIRA
- Paper: The Progressive Case Against Cost-Benefit Analysis
- Paper: Cost-Benefit Analysis Is Racist
- Paper: Restoring Scientific Integrity to the Regulatory System Means Overhauling Cost-Benefit Analysis
- Op-ed: Progressive Regulatory Reform Recommendations for the Biden-Harris Administration
- Op-ed: Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon Should Hold Biden’s Feet to the Fire on Regulatory Agenda
- Op-ed: Attention, Lawmakers — Regulation Is More Popular Than You Think
- Op-ed: To Democratize Regulation, Reform Regulatory Analysis
- Op-ed: Biden Has the Power to Restore Good Governance
- Op-ed: Regulatory Analysis Is Too Important to Be Left to the Economists
- CPRBlog post: We Need to Uproot Roadblocks to Just, Equitable Safeguards. Here Are 10 Things the Biden-Harris Team Can Do to Make That Happen
- CPRBlog post: Rethinking Presidential Administration
- CPRBlog post: Biden Elevates Science Advisor to Cabinet-Level Job
- Poll: Voters Strongly Support Government Regulation to Protect Climate, Health, and Future Generations
A More Just Regulatory Process
The regulatory process — whereby agencies develop rules to implement laws — is core to our democracy. These rules ensure our food, water, and air are healthy and our homes and workplaces are safe. Yet few Americans understand how this process works and have the time and ability to weigh in. Corporations, however, are experts in rulemaking — and use their influence to weaken regulatory protections for their financial gain. We can do better. We are working to make this process more inclusive, transparent, and equitable so it prioritizes people and the planet.
- The Biden administration should rebuild and reform the federal regulatory process to make it more inclusive, to strengthen protections, and to advance justice and equity.
- Congress and the president should develop strong conflict-of-interest standards to prevent people with close financial ties to industry from holding leadership positions in federal agencies.
- Report: A Crowdsourced Blueprint for Building a Progressive Regulatory System
- Paper: Deregulation on Demand: Trump EPA Panders to Polluters in Dismantling Clean Power Plan
- Webinar: Achieving Social Justice Through Better Regulation
- Library: Regulation as Social Justice
- Op-ed: Can Hip Hop Save Rulemaking?
- Letter: CPR Urges White House Office of Management and Budget to Extend Public Comment Periods to Allow People to Participate in the Regulatory Process during COVID-19
- CPRBlog post: New Report: How to Build a Regulatory System for a More Just and Equitable America
- CPRBlog post: Black Lives Matter and the Environment
- CPRBlog post: New Paper from CPR Measures Polluter Capture of Trump EPA
- CPRBlog post: The Missing Ingredient in the Green New Deal
- CPRBlog post: The Regulatory System Is an Important Part of Our Democracy. The ‘Trump’ Supreme Court Could Change That.
- CPRBlog post: Citizen Suits Are Good for the Regulatory System, and We Need More of Them
- CPRBlog post: Restoring Agency Norms
- CPRBlog post: Memo to Biden: Regulation Is Infrastructure
- CPRBlog post: Biden White House Can Make the Regulatory System Anti-Racist. Here’s How.
Effective Climate Governance
To effectively combat climate change, America needs a better, more responsive government. This means reimagining how federal, state, and local agencies and policies interact. Our climate, energy, and administrative law scholars are advancing this goal by helping policymakers reform climate governance and ensure decision-making is open and inclusive, especially for historically disenfranchised communities that have been and continue to be shut out of the process.
- Congress and the Biden administration should research and develop clean energy, assess the cost of inaction (known as the “social cost of carbon”), develop carbon pricing options such as a carbon tax, and fully fund and enforce all federal climate policies.
- Congress should examine the relationships among different agencies and levels of government, as well as current responsibilities for climate and energy policy. Where shifting responsibilities or rebalancing authority among different agencies or levels of government would increase effectiveness, inclusiveness, and equity, Congress should do so.
- Paper: Climate, Energy, Justice: Governance Mechanisms
- Paper: Climate, Energy, Justice: Structural Considerations
- Podcast episode: Reorganizing Government: From Pizza to Climate Change
- Op-ed: Carbon Pricing Is Not Enough to Fight Climate Change
- Op-ed: Leadership And the Challenge of Climate Change
- CPRBlog post: Biden Plans to Pick Brenda Mallory to Lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Here’s What She Can Do to Boost Public Protections.
- CPRBlog post: Recalculating the Cost of Climate Change
- CPRBlog post: The Strategic and Moral Failures of the Biden Administration’s International Climate Initiatives
Repairing the EPA
Upon taking office, Donald Trump turned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over to Scott Pruitt, a corrupt ideologue who hobbled the agency and blocked efforts to protect communities from environmental health hazards. Before resigning, Pruitt proposed a “benefits-busting” rule that would bias the flawed process of assessing regulatory costs and benefits to the point where almost no proposed environmental standard could be justified on paper. Former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler decided to take Pruitt’s concept and implement it on a program-by-program basis. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris Harris must reverse course.
- EPA should update agency guidance to ensure that the benefits of environmental protections are fully counted and that costs to industry aren’t exaggerated.
- EPA should assess proposed regulations on a substantive basis to ensure they comply with federal law, including requirements to prioritize public health and environmental protection over industry cost considerations.
- Public comments: CPR on EPA’s “benefits-busting” rule
- Public comments: CPR on EPA’s Risk Management Program, potential reforms, and cost-benefit analysis
- Webinar: EPA’s Benefits-Busting Proposal
- Op-ed: EPA’s backward accounting protects polluters, not the people
- Op-ed: Will There Be a Peaceful Transition at EPA?
- Op-ed: Biden Can Restore the EPA, But It Will Require Steadfast Effort
- CPRBlog post: CPR Comments Deliver Scathing Critique of EPA ‘Benefits-Busting’ Rule
- CPRBlog post: Andrew Wheeler’s Trojan Horse for Clean Air Act Regulation
- CPRBlog post: Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Biden EPA
- CPRBlog post: CPR Scholars and Staff Back EPA’s Plan to Eliminate Trump ‘Benefits-Busting’ Rule
Climate Justice in the Courts
The science is clear: Burning fossil fuels has warmed Earth’s climate and harmed our communities. The record is also clear: Not only did fossil fuel companies understand the risks of their products, they also lied to policymakers and the public about them. They chose profits over people and cast doubt on the reality of human-driven climate change. Individuals, cities, counties, and states must be able to seek justice, particularly for the communities of color and low-wealth communities disproportionately impacted by climate change. We have developed recommendations to ensure that those hurt by the fossil fuel industry will get their day in court.
- Congress, state legislatures, and state and federal courts should not limit the ability of individuals, cities, counties, and states to seek climate justice.
- Legislators and the courts should allow those harmed by climate change to seek and receive compensation from companies that insured the fossil fuel industry.
- Plaintiffs’ attorneys should take on clients harmed by climate change and should do so at reduced cost or pro bono when possible.
- Report: Climate Justice: State Courts and the Fight for Equity
- Webinar: Climate Justice: Holding the Fossil Fuel Industry Accountable Through State Tort Law
- Podcast episode: Youths’ Climate Case Dismissed. Now What?
- Podcast episode: Fossil Fuels on Trial: Suing Oil Companies for Climate Change Disasters (Part 1)
- Podcast episode: Fossil Fuels on Trial: Suing Oil Companies for Climate Change Disasters (Part 2)
- CPRBlog post: The Essential Role of State Courts in Addressing Climate Harms
- CPRBlog post compilation: Climate Justice
Justice for All Workers
Our nation’s main worker health and safety law is known as the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act. This landmark law is not without shortcomings: It lacks provisions allowing workers to go to court to remedy workplace hazards and hold scofflaw employers accountable. Another weakness: The law’s criminal penalties are too weak, and charges against dangerous employers are rare. We are working with local prosecutors to address these problems, and we created the nation’s first database of crimes against workers. We have also crafted legislation that would embed citizen enforcement tools into the OSH Act.
- Congress should amend the OSH Act to allow workers to take employers to court over workplace health and safety violations.
- Congress should strengthen the OSH Act’s criminal penalties to make them more effective deterrents.
- State and local prosecutors should investigate worker deaths, injuries, and wage theft as potential crimes rather than punting to federal and state health and safety regulators.
- Report: OSHA’s Next 50 Years: Legislating a Private Right of Action to Empower Workers
- Database: Crimes Against Workers
- Manual: Preventing Death and Injury on the Job
- Op-ed: When a Workplace Tragedy Is Also a Crime
- CPRBlog post: Empowering Workers to Sue Employers for Dangerous Working Conditions
- CPRBlog post: It’s Time to Give Workers Power to Enforce OSH Act
- CPRBlog post compilation: Crimes Against Workers
- CPR letter: Requesting a Criminal Investigation of a Trench Collapse Fatality and Injury in Fairfax County, Virginia
Justice for Victims of COVID-19
Nearly a year into the coronavirus pandemic, we know employers and businesses can protect their workers and customers from COVID-19. They can require masks, enforce social distancing, and limit the number of people in offices, warehouses, packing plants, and stores. When companies fail to take common-sense steps and people get sick, those harmed have the right to hold corporations accountable for their negligence. We are protecting access to the courts and working with allies to stop GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell from robbing Americans of their legal rights.
- Congress should enact pandemic relief legislation that enables workers and consumers to seek justice if they contract COVID-19 due to employer or retailer negligence.
- Policymakers should strengthen access to the courts, not weaken it.
- Policymakers should develop health standards to protect workers and consumers from COVID-19.
- CPR letter to Congress: Opposing a Free Pass for Businesses on COVID-19 Infections
- Law professor letter to Congress: Opposing a Free Pass for Businesses on COVID-19 Infections
- Op-ed: Beware Efforts Absolving Companies of COVID-19 Liability
- CPRBlog post: COVID-19 Shows Why We Need to Re-Empower People Through the Civil Courts
It’s Our Time. Let’s Get to Work.
CPR is working to enfranchise those who have been shut out of our democracy, particularly people and communities in the crosshairs of climate change and toxic pollution, who are routinely denied economic opportunity, and whose workplaces are unsafe or unhealthy. We’ve spent the last four years preparing for this opportunity, crafting the policy solutions that will protect our health and safety and make our government work for us. Now it’s time to turn those ideas into reality. Please support this important work with your secure donation today.