March 5, 2010 by Shana Campbell Jones

White House Roadmap for Gulf Coast Restoration Released

Yesterday, the White House released a plan to restore Mississippi and Louisiana wetlands and barrier islands, which have been disappearing at a rapid clip for decades and continue to do so. Hurricane Katrina brought to the fore what many residents of these states already knew: federal, state, and local authorities were neither coordinated nor prepared to protect the Gulf Coast, its ecosystems, and its people from Mother Nature’s worst. (See CPR's report on Katrina).

The White House roadmap is designed to bring some much-needed order and leadership to Gulf Coast restoration efforts. It’s a strong sign from the Obama Administration that it is serious about protecting the Gulf Coast.

The roadmap also strives to put ecosystem restoration and sustainability “on a more equal footing with other priorities such as manmade navigation and structural approaches to flood protection and storm risk reduction.” It rightly notes that these priorities make up complex pieces of a larger whole: wetlands protect inland ecosystems and communities from dangerous storm surges, for example; bayous, bays, and estuaries produce much of the fish and wildlife that coastal fishermen and communities depend upon for their livelihoods. The elevation of these “ecosystem services” to having “value …

March 5, 2010 by James Goodwin

Imagine opening your medicine cabinet, only to find that the warning and information labels on your over-the-counter medications no longer include dosing information. How would you know how much Benadryl to take or how much aspirin to give to your child? A provision in the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) proposed rule modifying its Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard threatens to deprive U.S. workers of similar safety information—information they depend upon ever day to protect themselves against the hazardous chemicals that they use in the workplace. CPR Board Member Sidney Shapiro and I have prepared testimony for a public hearing OSHA is holding today on the proposed rule, making the case that the provision is unnecessary and that it would likely leave workers more vulnerable to workplace hazards (full HazCom testimony).

As the name suggests OSHA’s HazCom Standard establishes a system for communicating …

March 4, 2010 by Matt Shudtz

Today the top brass from OSHA opened their doors to the many stakeholders who have something to say about how the agency is doing in its efforts to protect U.S. workers. Of course, they got an earful.

The event marks a new path for OSHA, in that the head of the agency and top career staff took the time to sit face-to-face with occupational health experts, workers, worker representatives, and even the families of victims of workplace accidents, not just the usual cast of characters from the industry lobbying firms.

And it wasn’t just a cattle call. OSHA head David Michaels, Debbie Berkowitz (Chief of Staff), Richard Fairfax (Director of Enforcement), and Dorothy Dougherty (Director of Standards) engaged the speakers in a way that showed they not only cared about what the speakers were saying but are genuinely interested in taking action to protect workers …

March 3, 2010 by Ben Somberg

This post, by Sarah Vogel, is cross-posted from The Pump Handle.

If you thought the scientific debate about bisphenol A was over or even quieting down, you haven’t been reading the latest issues of Toxicological Sciences. (What are you doing with your spare time?) Last month in an editorial piece published in the journal, Richard Sharpe queried: “Is It Time to End Concerns over the Estrogenic Effects of Bisphenol A?”  His answer was an unequivocal ‘yes’, based on the latest study from Ryan et al.  (published in the same issue) that found no reproductive effects from bisphenol A exposure in rats.  The study, according to Sharpe, “throws cold water on this controversy.”

Not so fast.  On Wednesday, February 17, 2010, the journal published a second letter to the editors, “Flawed Experimental Design Reveals the Need for Guidelines Requiring Appropriate Positive Controls in Endocrine Disruption Research,” by …

March 2, 2010 by Matthew Freeman

Ordinarily, if an organization with the word “recycling” in its name said unkind things about the Center for Progressive Reform, I’d worry. But the other week, we got dinged by a newly launched outfit called “Citizens for Recycling First,” and I’m thinking it’s a badge of honor.

Before proceeding, let’s dwell for a moment on the mental images the group’s name conjures up. I’m thinking about plastic bins with recycling logos on their sides, filled by conscientious Americans with soup cans, beer bottles, and aluminum foil.

Perhaps you pull up a different mental image. But whatever it is, I’m pretty sure it’s not a big hole in the ground with toxic coal ash in it. That little bit of misdirection is probably just what the marketing types of the coal and coal ash industry had in mind when this …

March 1, 2010 by Rena Steinzor

The congressional hearings so far on “sudden unintended acceleration” (SUA) in Toyota cars should have made two truths obvious to Washington policymakers. First, the strategy of counting on major manufacturers to voluntarily ensure that their consumer products are safe is unworkable in a competitive market, and second, safety agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) need to walk softly but carry a very large stick.

Gone are the days when we could reasonably expect government technical experts to shadow manufacturers’ design engineers in order to coax them into taking care, even in a market with fewer than ten major manufacturers. But NHTSA still should have stepped out in front of the strong industry trend to rely on electronic controls or, as it is colloquially known, “driving by wire,” which is the likely source of SUA, at least in the Camry, and required all manufacturers to …

March 1, 2010 by Ben Somberg

Water pollution / water law on the front page of the Times and the Post on the same day?! Yep.

NYTimes: Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Hampering E.P.A.

WashPost: Rising with a bullet among top pollutants: Number Two

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
March 31, 2010

Big Chicken Plays Chicken Little in Maryland While Assaulting Academic Freedom and Access to Justice in the Meantime

March 29, 2010

50 OIRAs? Another State (New Jersey) Drinks the Regulatory Review Kool-Aid

March 26, 2010

EPA Proposes to Veto Mountaintop Removal Project

March 26, 2010

If Not at Yucca Mountain, then Where?

March 24, 2010

New Health and Safety Journalism Publication Launches Today

March 24, 2010

Incorporating the Best of Cantwell-Collins into KGL: Don't Forget the Missing Instrument

March 23, 2010

Republicans Senators Target Fee Recoveries in Public Interest Suits Against Federal Agencies