Nov. 14, 2008 by Robert Glicksman

Revitalizing Cooperative Federalism by Limiting Federal Preemption of State law

As President-elect Obama and his transition team begin planning to implement the new Administration’s agenda, a flood of policy proposals can be expected to compete for the President-elect’s attention. Proposals to deal with the nation’s economic crisis surely deserve to top the agenda. This week, CPR issued Protecting Public Health and the Environment by the Stroke of a Presidential Pen: Seven Executive Orders for the President’s First 100 Days, urging President Obama to take steps early in his presidency to secure vital protections for the public health and the nation’s environment.


In particular, the white paper recommends seven Executive Orders that President Obama can issue, refocusing federal policy without need of legislative approval. Each is directed at filling a gap in the nation’s health and environmental protection laws. The Executive Orders are at once symbolic and substantively powerful. Each would symbolize the Administration’s commitment to health and environmental protection, making clear that the shameful chapter in the nation’s environmental history written by the George W. Bush Administration has ended. And each would yield important real-world health and environmental benefits.


One of the seven proposals falls under the heading of Removing Barriers to …

Nov. 13, 2008 by Robert Verchick

President-Elect Obama has promised to support spending $150 billion over 10 years to create 5 million new “green collar jobs.” If allocated correctly, these jobs could jump-start the economies of urban neighborhoods and pockets of rural poverty. Imagine a country where a new generation of workers earns good wages and benefits— even saving for the kids’ education — while building light-rail systems, servicing wind turbines, and installing solar panels on neighborhood homes. A green economy like this would not only reduce reliance on fossil fuels and boost technological development, it would bring hope to thousands of the working poor whose communities have long been vexed by racism, pollution, and crime. Green-collar jobs are just one example of what we would see if the president renewed our commitment to Environmental Justice. Environmental Justice is a movement concerned with the distribution of environmental harms and benefits on the basis of …

Nov. 12, 2008 by Rena Steinzor

About one in every fifteen Americans is a child under five years old, and those 20 million kids all experience the miracle of discovery and development. These fragile human beings are not simply little adults, the scientists tell us, for all sorts of reasons. They breathe five times faster, for one thing, inhaling much more fresh—and contaminated—air. Because their nervous systems are still developing, they are much more vulnerable to chemicals that cause brain damage, lags in cognitive development, and problems with fine motor skills. Some kids are hurt even before they are born. Fifteen percent of women of child-bearing age have potentially harmful levels of mercury in their blood, for example, and a major source of their exposure is fish tainted by emissions from American power and chemical plants.


Very few parents would feel anything less than profound anxiety were they confronted with evidence …

Nov. 12, 2008 by Robert Fischman

This past week, many national newspapers picked up the story from Utah, where the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just approved a spate of resource management plans that clear the way for a massive oil/gas lease sale next month. Some of the tens of thousands of acres slated for leasing are near the boundaries of national parks, such as Arches and Canyonlands. Many more are on lands with wilderness characteristics.


This last burst of enthusiasm for fossil fuel leasing is no rogue act. It is a direct result of the instructions for public land administration that George W. Bush issued through Executive Orders early in his administration. If the Obama administration disapproves of decisions like the ones in Utah last week, then it needs to exert its leadership through Executive Orders. The first task will be to revoke the Bush Executive Orders, which push resource managers …

Nov. 10, 2008 by Amy Sinden

President-elect Obama has a lot on his plate. No doubt the financial crisis is foremost on his mind. But as he ticked off his to-do list in his victory speech Tuesday night, I heard our new president mention another global crisis as well: “a planet in peril.” The worst economic crisis since the great depression may be the crisis that’s getting all the attention and money thrown its way lately, but the other global crisis—the inexorable and ominous warming of the planet—has the capacity to wreak a far more profound and irreversible havoc in the long term.


I can go through the usual ominous litany—rising seas, drought, crop failure, tropical diseases creeping northward. But to understand the depth and magnitude of the threats we face from the climate crisis, consider that, if current trends continue, every last spot on earth—and that means …

Nov. 7, 2008 by Thomas McGarity

Joining Thomas McGarity in this post are CPR Policy Analysts Margaret Clune Giblin and Matthew Shudtz.  This entry is cross-posted on ACSBlog, the blog of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

In the wake of the meltdown in the US financial sector, federal regulation has attracted renewed public support as a vehicle for establishing responsible boundaries and correcting market failures. Recent news stories, however, have focused public attention on a flurry of regulations that the Bush Administration has finalized, or has proposed and is working feverishly to finalize, in its last weeks in office. Has the Bush Administration recognized the failure of the deregulatory principles that have guided its nearly eight years in office and, like the public, come to embrace regulation? Apparently not. Instead, the Administration has opted to push through hundreds of new rules, many sharing the common theme of further undercutting health …

Nov. 6, 2008 by Shana Campbell Jones

You can never step in the same river twice, the saying goes. According to a new report about how climate change is expected to affect the Chesapeake Bay, that saying may become truer than ever.


In Climate Change and the Chesapeake Bay, a group of scientists and water quality experts found that, because of climate change, “the Bay’s functioning by the end of this century will differ significantly from that observed during the last century….” The report concluded that affects of climate change are already occurring and that “certain consequences” are likely:

  • The mean and variance of sea level will increase, elevating the likelihood of coastal flooding and submergence of estuarine wetlands;
  • Warming and higher CO2 concentrations will promote the growth of harmful algae, such as dinoflagellates;
  • Warming and greater winter-spring streamflow will increase hypoxia;
  • Warming will reduce the prevalence of eelgrass, the Bay’s …

Nov. 5, 2008 by Margaret Giblin

Climate change is such an unprecedented challenge that sometimes it can seem overwhelming to think through its full range of impacts, let alone develop policy solutions to address them. Yet as policymakers delve into the details of the many ways in which climate change will impact global societies and the environment, the most promising solutions frequently turn out to have a distinctly familiar ring. Often, they are measures that have long been recommended for reasons that, although intensified by climate change, also stand alone.


Take, for example, one of the principal threats to public health posed by climate change. A little while ago, the Washington Post focused on the increases in waterborne diseases that warmer waters and heavier rainfalls caused by global warming will herald. “Rainfalls will be heavier, triggering sewage overflows, contaminating drinking water and endangering beachgoers. Higher lake and ocean temperatures will cause bacteria, parasites …

Nov. 4, 2008 by Matt Shudtz

In CPR’s recent white paper, Saving Science from Politics, Rena Steinzor, Wendy Wagner and I proposed reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to strengthen the Act’s “adverse effects” reporting requirements.  Under TSCA, registration of a chemical with EPA triggers a continuing obligation on regulated firms to submit to EPA any information they obtain that “reasonably supports the conclusion” that a chemical or mixture they manufacture, import, process, or distribute “presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment.”  We think that legal standard gives regulated parties too much discretion.


As we explained in Saving Science, DuPont began studying the human health effects of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical used in manufacturing Teflon) in 1978.  By 1981, the company had compiled reports about PFOA in pregnant workers and their offspring, developing “the first direct human evidence of PFOA crossing the placenta in humans …

Nov. 3, 2008 by Thomas McGarity

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that could give a boost to the Bush Administration’s backdoor “tort reform” efforts – an increasingly transparent effort to shield industry from litigation over defective products. The issue in Wyeth v. Levine is whether the Food and Drug Administration’s labeling requirements preempt state tort law.


Here are the facts of the case: Eight years ago, professional guitarist Diana Levine went to a clinic with a migraine and received an injection of Phenargen, an anti-nausea medicine. The drug’s label cautioned that one method for administering the drug – the so-called “Push IV” method of direct injection into a vein – was risky because of the danger that the drug could be injected into an artery instead of a vein. But the label did not instruct doctors not to use the technique. Indeed, the manufacturer …

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