Oct. 30, 2008 by Shana Campbell Jones

Green Jobs Need Protection, Not Preemption

Next year, Congress is all but certain to try to tackle climate change legislation again, and the stakes are higher than ever. Further delay in federal action would only compound the problem. But while Congress has been sitting on its hands for more than a decade, many states have taken action, seeing climate change not only as an environmental threat but also as an economic development opportunity.


Last week, for example, New Jersey Gov. John Corzine released an “energy roadmap” designed to drastically cut the state’s emissions and create 20,000 green jobs between now and 2020. This spring, the Washington State Legislature passed Gov. Christine Gregoire’s “Climate Change and Green Collar Jobs” bill, which will establish a “rigorous planning process for reducing greenhouse gas emissions statewide” and create 25,000 green jobs by 2025.


California, in particular, has led the way. On October 15, the California Air Resources Board released its “Scoping Plan,” outlining its strategy to reduce its carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  The plan was mandated by AB 32, California’s 2006 global warming law, and is set for Board approval this December. Key elements of the plan include achieving a statewide renewables …

Oct. 30, 2008 by James Goodwin

Halloween—a day on which not everything is as it seems—offers a fitting occasion to ponder the possible effects of globalization on the U.S. regulatory system and its ability to protect Americans. 


Globalization is a complex subject, and, like the bandages of a reanimated mummy, its ramifications could probably be unwound indefinitely.  Its proponents wax eloquently on the myriad ways that globalization might improve the capacity of U.S. regulators to protect Americans.  They observe, for example, that increased interdependence among nations will expedite the transfer of pollution reduction technologies, developments that would undoubtedly redound to the benefit of U.S. citizens.  Recent news reports, however, portend the horrors that globalization might inflict on the U.S. regulatory system.  Most terrifyingly, these reports suggest how globalization can, like an ambidextrous Freddy Krueger, slice at the U.S. regulatory safety net from multiple directions.


To begin …

Oct. 29, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

The battle over bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic baby bottles took another interesting turn today when the FDA’s own scientific advisory panel issued a stinging rebuke of the agency for its determination that the toxic substance is not harmful.


According to the Washington Post, FDA

did not take into consideration scores of studies that have linked bisphenol A (BPA) to prostate cancer, diabetes and other health problems in animals when it completed a draft risk assessment of the chemical last month. The panel said the FDA didn't use enough infant formula samples and didn't adequately account for variations among the samples.

As a result, the report from the panel says, FDA failed to provide “reasonable and appropriate scientific support” for its conclusion. According to a Bloomberg story,

An estimated 93 percent of Americans have traces of bisphenol A in their urine, according to the …

Oct. 28, 2008 by James Goodwin

Imagine being told that the global economy had lost between $2 trillion and $5 trillion in the last year. Presented with this information, you would probably think immediately of the seemingly ever-worsening economic crisis now sweeping the globe. In fact, that number refers to the annual economic losses attributable to global deforestation. For the record: Wall Street’s losses to date from the current financial crisis are somewhere between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion.

The numbers on the costs of deforestation come from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, a recent report commissioned by the European Union. It says that the economic costs of deforestation are equal to about seven percent of the global GDP, and that the world economy has been taking that hit for a number of years running.

So how does chopping down trees result in economic losses? Wouldn’t it free up …

Oct. 24, 2008 by Shana Campbell Jones

Earlier this month, and after six years of delay, EPA announced that it had decided not to regulate perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel and munitions that has leached into water supplies in various parts of the country, often near military bases. As it happened, the announcement came just a few days before the release of a new study on the subject that demonstrates that EPA’s lack of action may be even more disastrous than environmentalists and children’s health advocates previously thought.


Perchlorate blocks iodine “uptake” to the thyroid gland, thus interfering with the critical role iodine plays in the thyroid’s work, which includes controlling the burning of energy, the body’s sensitivity to hormones, protein production in the body and more. Compromised thyroid function in infants and children can result in behavioral problems and lower I.Q.


The study, released October 17, is …

Oct. 23, 2008 by Margaret Giblin

One recurrent theme of the Bush Administration’s regulatory approach has been the weakening of protective regulations – not just by weakening standards, but by erecting bureaucratic barriers to progress. In mid-August, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) provided another example of the later approach, proposing changes to rules implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—changes that would result in less protection for the endangered and threatened species the ESA charges the FWS with protecting.


The changes would affect the rules that implement Section 7 of the Act, which requires federal agencies “in consultation with and with the assistance of” FWS and its counterpart wildlife agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), to “insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by such agency . . . is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species . . . or result in the destruction or adverse modification of …

Oct. 22, 2008 by Matt Shudtz

Have you ever worried that your new car, van or SUV has too many seatbelts? Fear no more. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just changed a federal regulation to make sure that only so many passengers can be safely belted in. And along the way, NHTSA is giving a gift to auto manufacturers by trying to protect them from lawsuits brought by accident victims.


The too-many-seatbelts notion is buried in the text of a new rule NHTSA published on October 8 (73 Fed. Reg. 58887). The rule defines the term, “designated seating position,” which the agency and automobile manufacturers use to determine where passengers can be expected to sit. Federal safety standards mandating how many seatbelts must be installed in a new vehicle, where airbags are placed, and other performance requirements all hinge on the number and location of designated seating positions.


NHTSA’s new rule …

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More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Oct. 30, 2008

Green Jobs Need Protection, Not Preemption

Oct. 30, 2008

Globalization: Nightmare on Main Street?

Oct. 29, 2008

Inching Toward Safer Baby Bottles

Oct. 28, 2008

The Economic Costs of Environmental Degradation

Oct. 24, 2008

More Rocket Fuel in Our Water

Oct. 23, 2008

Proposed Changes to Endangered Species Act Rule Would Further Endanger Species

Oct. 22, 2008

Too many seatbelts?