July 31, 2012 by Yee Huang

New White Paper: How Should Government Facilitate Climate Change Adaptation Efforts in the Private Sector?

Today CPR releases a new briefing paper exploring how the government can encourage, facilitate, and even demand actions from the different parts of the private sector to adapt to the changing climate. The paper is based on ideas discussed at a workshop CPR co-sponsored earlier this year at the University of North Carolina School of Law, which brought together academics, non-profit and business representatives, and government officials to wrestle with how government might positively shape the private sector response to the effects of climate change. Today’s briefing paper, Climate Change Adaptation: The Impact of Law on Adaptation in the Private Sector, was written by CPR Member Scholar Victor Flatt and myself.

Adapting to the impacts of climate change (not to be confused with the related pressing need to mitigate greenhouse gas releases) requires strategic planning and comprehensive action by both the public and private sectors, and each sector influences the other.  For example, the private sector generates the overwhelming majority of economic output in the United States and is regulated for health, safety, and environmental purpose by the government. Land ownership is also largely private: roughly 70 percent of the land in the United States is held privately, and …

July 31, 2012 by Daniel Farber

Cross-posted from Legal Planet.

There has been considerable discussion of Governor Romney's views about the causes of climate change and about policies such as cap and trade.  It's not easy, however, to find detailed documentation.  For that reason, I've assembled as much information as I could find about what Romney has said and done over the years, with links to sources (including video or original documents when I could find them).

Jan. 2003.  Romney takes office as Governor of Massachusetts.

July 21, 2003.  In a letter to New York Governor George Pataki, Romney says : “Thank you for your invitation to embark on a cooperative northeast process to reduce the power plant pollution that is harming our climate.  I concur that climate change is beginning to effect on sic our natural resources and that now is the time to take action toward climate protection. . . . I …

July 26, 2012 by

a(broad) perspective

Today’s post is the sixth in a series on a recent CPR white paper, Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership: Why the United States Should Ratify Ten Pending Environmental Treaties.  Each month, this series will discuss one of these treaties.  Previous posts are here.

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization on November 3, 2001

Entered into Force on June 29, 2004 Number of Parties: 127

Signed by the United States on November 3, 2002 Sent to the Senate on July 7, 2008 Reported favorably by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 14, 2010

As the world’s population continues to grow, global production of food must grow with it. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that farmers will have to increase production by at least 70 percent by 2050 to …

July 25, 2012 by Rena Steinzor

CPR Member Scholar John Knox has been appointed the U.N. Human Rights Council’s first Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment.

The position was created in March with a mandate to study the relationship of human rights and the environment, and prepare a series of reports to the Human Rights Council over the next three years. The mission will be to “identify, promote and exchange views on best practices relating to the use of human rights obligations and commitments to inform, support and strengthen environmental policymaking, especially in the area of environmental protection.”

Knox has published extensively on the intersection of human rights and the environment, and co-authored the CPR white paper Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership: Why the United States Should Ratify Ten Pending Environmental Treaties, published earlier this year. He is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law, and has been …

July 24, 2012 by Robert Adler

The relentless heat wave that has plagued much of the country this summer, along with an accompanying paucity of rain, have plunged vast swaths of the United States into the most crippling drought in decades. Corn crops and now soy crops are withering, and commodity prices have risen dramatically. That could signal a sharp rise in domestic food prices just as the elections approach this fall, shocks to world grain markets fueled in large part by U.S exports, and significant financial losses to American agriculture. And that’s not to mention the horrific working conditions many farmers have to face every day in temperatures approaching or exceeding 100 degrees F.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast suggests that little relief is in sight. As of the middle of July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had already designated 1,297 counties in 29 states as “primary natural …

July 23, 2012 by Daniel Farber

Cross-posted from Legal Planet.

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit decided American Petroleum Institute (API) v. EPA, an interesting case dealing with nitrogen oxide (NO2) levels. The standard is supposed to include a margin of safety.Under the Clean Air Act, EPA sets National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for airborne substances that endanger human health or welfare. EPA set such a standard for NO2 in 1971 and finally got around to revising the standard in 2010.

The innovation in the new NO2 standard is that it’s a one-hour standard covering peak exposures, and all air monitors in an area must hit the standard. The previous standard was an annual average, so local, temporary peaks could be quite a bit higher. The evidence showed that the earlier average standard did not protect people against respiratory problems from spikes in nitric oxides, particularly if they were near …

July 19, 2012 by Thomas McGarity

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is one of the surviving monuments of the era of progressive social legislation (extending from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s) during which Congress enacted the nation’s foundational health, safety and environmental laws. That statute empowered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to write safety and health standards designed “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions.” A separate “general duty clause” required every employer to provide a workplace that was “free from recognized hazards” that were likely to cause “death or serious physical harm.”

During the ensuing four decades, OSHA’s efforts to implement that statute have brought about substantial reductions in workplace injuries and illnesses, but far too many workers are still hurt or killed.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. private …

July 18, 2012 by Ben Somberg

The White House’s message on its program for retrospectively reviewing existing regulations just shifted a little further away from recognizing the need for protective regulations for health, safety, and the environment. First the White House said it was interested in "expanding" certain existing regulations, if appropriate. Then it said it was interested in hearing ideas from the public on expanding regulations, but officially considers those ideas to be a lower priority than ideas that would weaken regulations. Now today, a new website launched by the White House pushes the notion of any balance in regulatory review further off the table.

Let me step back. Executive Order 13,563, issued by President Obama in January of 2011, announced the regulatory look-back program we’ve discussed a lot here:

To facilitate the periodic review of existing significant regulations, agencies shall consider how best to promote retrospective analysis of …

July 18, 2012 by Aimee Simpson

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would amend an existing food additive regulation to prohibit the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in “infant feeding bottles (baby bottles) and spill-proof cups, including their closures and lids, designed to help train babies and toddlers to drink from cups (sippy cups).”  BPA, a chemical commonly added to polycarbonate resins (a fancy word for plastics), continues to raise concerns over its low-dose, endocrine-disrupting health effects.  Despite these health and safety concerns, the FDA’s decision to ban BPA in these limited items responds to a petition from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), which cites abandonment as the reason for the regulation amendment—not safety.

The good news about FDA’s BPA ban: FDA finally took an affirmative step toward protecting some of the public from BPA.  The bad news: the step is a meager one …

July 17, 2012 by Daniel Farber

Cross-posted from Legal Planet.

In some situations, voluntary efforts leads other people to join in, whereas in others, it encourages them to hold back.  There’s a similar issue about climate mitigation efforts at the national, regional, or state level.  Do these efforts really move the ball forward?  Or are they counterproductive, because other places increase their own carbon emissions or lose interest in negotiating?

A common sense reaction is that every ton of reduced carbon emissions means one less ton in the atmosphere.  But things aren’t quite that simple.  If we mandate more efficient cars, a number of other things might happen besides the immediate drop in emissions per mile: people might increase their driving because they don’t have to pay as much for gas; the same number of less efficient cars could be sold, but in other countries; or the reduced demand for …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
July 31, 2012

Romney's Views About Climate Policy: A Detailed Timeline

July 31, 2012

New White Paper: How Should Government Facilitate Climate Change Adaptation Efforts in the Private Sector?

July 26, 2012

Planting the Seeds of the Future: The Plant Genetic Resources Treaty

July 25, 2012

Member Scholar John Knox Appointed to United Nations Post on Human Rights and the Environment

July 24, 2012

The Conundrum of Responding to Crippling Drought: Help Now or Reduce Future Vulnerability?

July 23, 2012

Don't Knock EPA's Knack for NAAQS

July 19, 2012

CPR White Paper: The Next OSHA -- Progressive Reforms to Empower Workers