Nov. 28, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

Tom McGarity on preemption in November 28 Austin American Statesman

CPR's Tom McGarity has an op-ed this morning in the Austin American Statesman on Wyeth vs. Levine, the Supreme Court case testing an assertion by pharmaceutical manufacturer Wyeth that FDA approval of its proposed drug label shields the company from tort litigation over harm that drug subsequently causes.  The Court heard oral arguments on the case on November 3, and a ruling is expected later this term.


The case arose out of one of those medical disaster stories we all fear.  Diana Levine went to visit a doctor, complaining of a migraine.  Her treatment included an injection of Wyeth's anti-nausea drug, phenergan.  The label on the drug carries a caution about the so-called IV-push method of injection -- a shot.  The better method is an IV-drip -- where a bottle is hung and the drug introduced more slowly into the vein.  The danger is that the drug will get into an artery, a complication that is apparently taken off the table with an IV-drip, but possible, if uncommon with IV-push.  Levine received phenergan via IV-push, things went wrong, the drug reached her artery, and tissue began to die.  Before the saga was over, her arm was amputated, and her career …

Nov. 28, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

If you’re a Washington, D.C., commuter, it’s hard these days to miss the series of transit ads from Chevron on subway walls, bus shelter windows, and even the exteriors of subway cars.  “I will finally get a programmable thermostat,” says one, over the picture of a concerned woman. “I will at least consider a hybrid,” says another, over the face of a perplexed looking man. Other ads in the “Will You Join Us” series, commit “I” to taking “my” golf clubs out of the trunk, replacing three (count ‘em, three) light bulbs with compact fluorescents, reusing things, and leaving the car at home “more.”


I enjoy all those magazine articles about “Ten Things You Can Do to Save the Planet” as much as the next guy. But Chevron’s little honey-do list is a different story. I find something fundamentally offensive about having Chevron …

Nov. 25, 2008 by Matt Shudtz

Every time energy prices spike, oil companies (and their allies in Washington) start talking up oil shale. It happened just before World War I, it happened after the 1973 oil embargo, and it’s happening again now. Oil shale, the hucksters tell us, is the answer to America’s energy problems. Huge deposits of the stuff lie just below the surface of empty federal lands. It has the potential to provide us hundreds of billions of barrels of homegrown oil. It’s readily available, it’s domestic, and it’s ready for American workers to extract.


If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.


In the reality-based world, the economics only work if oil is selling near $100 per barrel and, even then, extracting the oil shale and converting it to a usable product (one that can heat our homes or power …

Nov. 24, 2008 by James Goodwin

Much is being made of the outgoing Bush Administration’s “midnight regulations,”  and with good reason, too.  Many of them roll back crucial protections for public health, safety, and the environment.  So far, they include relaxed requirements for building filthy coal plants near national parks and the elimination of a requirement mandating that federal agencies consult with independent scientists prior to taking actions that might impact endangered species.

The fact is, however, that the Bush Administration has been surreptitiously weakening regulations for the last eight years through the backdoor process of regulatory review.   And, thanks to a proposed guidance recently released by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the process of regulatory review may be tilted even further in favor of weakening regulations.

The proposed guidance involves a new requirement for how the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) conducts cost-benefit analysis during …

Nov. 21, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

In January, “committed environmentalist” Henry Waxman will take the chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, the body through which environmental legislation – and most significantly, climate change legislation – will pass on its way to the floor of the House of Representatives next year. As it happens, Representative Waxman is a charter member of the Center for Progressive Reform’s Advisory Council, and has been very supportive of the organization’s work.


CPR isn’t in the business of endorsing candidates, nor involving itself in intra-party battles for leadership positions. But we recognize an environmental leader when we see one, and our Member Scholars look forward to contributing their policy ideas to the work of his committee.


Yesterday, CPR President Rena Steinzor sent a letter of congratulations to Representative Waxman. She wrote:

On behalf of the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR), I want to congratulate you …

Nov. 20, 2008 by Margaret Giblin

One important environmental challenge facing soon-to-be-President Obama is how to reinvigorate the National Forest System’s environmental protections.  The system encompasses 192 million acres of land, which – to the constant amazement of those of us on the East Coast – represents about 8 percent of the total land area of the United States (roughly equivalent to the size of Texas), and about 25 percent of the country’s total forested lands. 

Late in the 19th Century, amid concerns that excessive logging was damaging watersheds and depleting future timber supplies, Congress authorized setting aside areas of federal forest lands as “reserves.”  President Theodore Roosevelt transformed the early system of reserves, giving it many of the characteristics it retains today – renaming them National Forests, increasing their total size to about 194 million acres, and assigning their management by the Forest Service to the Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

Legislation in the …

Nov. 19, 2008 by Matt Shudtz

Last Friday, the American University Washington College of Law and the Robert L. Habush Endowment of the American Association for Justice hosted a conference on emerging ideas in consumer product safety. CPR Member Scholar Sid Shapiro opened the day with a presentation of a new paper he’s written with Professors Ruth Ruttenberg (National Labor College) and Paul Leigh (UC-Davis).


Their paper is an empirical study of the “extended costs” economists typically overlook when tallying up the costs of personal injuries caused by dangerous products. Traditionally, economists use a “cost-of-illness” or “cost-of-injury” (COI) approach that takes into account direct costs (e.g., hospital bills, medical tests, rehabilitation) and indirect costs (e.g., lost earnings, lost value of home production, lost fringe benefits). Shapiro, Ruttenberg, and Leigh refine the traditional methodology by also accounting for the “extended” costs of injuries – things ranging from the cost of assisted living …

Nov. 18, 2008 by Shana Campbell Jones

Bigfoot lives, and he’s not hiding out from the paparazzi somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. He drives more than 630,000 vehicles. He is the largest consumer of energy in the United States, costing taxpayers about $14.5 billion. He generates about 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly, approximately 1.4 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gases per year. Who is Bigfoot? He’s Uncle Sam, our very own federal government. And he’s got a carbon footprint bigger than all of Belgium, Greece, Sweden, or Vietnam.

President-elect Obama and the 111th Congress know that legislation to reduce U.S. carbon emissions is sorely needed. But the President need not wait for Congress to act to make a difference, or to send a message to the public and the world that real change is coming. Bigfoot needs a smaller shoe size. It is …

Nov. 17, 2008 by Sidney Shapiro

The Bush Administration's penchant for secrecy was one of the most corrosive aspects of the way it ran the government these last eight years. This preference for conducting government business behind closed doors ran the gamut from military and foreign policy, where secrecy is more easily justified, to regulatory policy, where it is much less justified. President-elect Obama has the authority to issue a new Executive Order on government transparency that could address and reverse the secrecy policies of the last eight years concerning regulatory government. CPR proposed a three-part Executive Order for doing the job, in its November 11 white paper, Protecting Public Health and the Environment by the Stroke of a Presidential Pen: Seven Executive Orders for the President's First 100 Days.


Freedom of Information Act. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is often called the nation’s premier open-government statute, and for …

Nov. 15, 2008 by Matthew Freeman

Don't miss CPR Member Scholar Holly Doremus's piece in Slate, published November 14, on the Supreme Court's ruling in NRDC's challenge to the Navy's use of harmful-to-whales sonar in anit-submarine training off the California coast. [Also available in PDF.]

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Nov. 28, 2008

Tom McGarity on preemption in November 28 Austin American Statesman

Nov. 28, 2008

Thanks for the Invitation, Chevron, But I Will...Aim Higher

Nov. 25, 2008

The BLM Goes Back to the Future

Nov. 24, 2008

Midnight Changes to Cost-Benefit Analysis?

Nov. 21, 2008

CPR Congratulates Chairman Henry Waxman

Nov. 20, 2008

National Forests, a New Administration, and Climate Change

Nov. 19, 2008

A Better Measure for the Social Costs of Dangerous Products