April 16, 2013 by Robert Glicksman

A Tribute to Joe Feller

Last week, CPR lost one its most dynamic scholars, Joe Feller, in a tragic accident. Joe was deservedly well known as a staunch and vigorous advocate on behalf of natural resource preservation, especially the public rangelands that he loved. Joe was not cut from the typical academic mold. Although he wrote frequently and with vision about subjects that included rangeland protection and water law issues, he was at least as comfortable leading environmental protection efforts in the agencies and the courts. Joe filed administrative protests and appeals, represented environmental interests in litigation in the federal courts, submitted comments on proposed agency decisions and rules, testified at public hearings and before legislative committees, and participated in collaborative problem-solving groups.  For example, he successfully litigated a path-breaking case requiring compliance with environmental laws in the renewal of grazing permits on federal public lands.  Joe’s contributions to CPR included efforts to facilitate grazing law reform,  

Joe brought to these endeavors interdisciplinary skills that most legal academics lack. He earned a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley and was an Assistant Professor of Physics at Columbia University.  Before beginning his legal academic …

April 12, 2013 by Matthew Freeman

This morning, CPR President Rena Steinzor will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the proposed Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2013 (ECRA), yet another in a series of bills from House Republicans aimed at blocking federal regulatory agencies from fully implementing the nation's health and safety laws — in this case such landmark legislation as the Clean Air Act, and any other law enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency that is in any sense "energy-related."

Here's the nut paragraph of the bill:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency may not promulgate as final an energy-related rule that is estimated to cost more than $1 billion if the Secretary of Energy determines under Section 3(3) of ECRA that, with respect to the rule, significant adverse effects to the economy will be caused.

In other words, the …

April 10, 2013 by Matt Shudtz

For more than a year now, food safety and worker safety advocates have been fighting a proposal out of USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service that would pull most government inspectors off poultry slaughter lines in favor of potentially un-trained company inspectors, speed up the lines, and allow companies to use additional antimicrobial chemicals to cover up expected increases in contamination.  Today, President Obama released a proposed budget that indicates USDA’s proposal will be finalized before the start of FY2014 (see pages 86-87)—a rebuke to advocates who have made a strong case against the USDA proposal.

As we’ve noted before,

  • The proposed rule is bad for food safety.  USDA has tried out pilot programs that allowed poultry slaughterhouses to speed up their lines and move government inspectors off those lines.  Food & Water Watch obtained compliance records and found troubling results, including that bile …

April 9, 2013 by Michael Patoka

The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposal to “modernize” the poultry inspection system by replacing government inspectors with company employees, and speeding up the processing line to a staggering 175 birds per minute, has been exposed on numerous occasions as a disaster-waiting-to-happen for food and worker safety. In its zeal to save money for poultry corporations, the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) failed to conduct its much-vaunted “interagency review” before giving the proposed rule its stamp of approval—it even neglected to invite the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to weigh in on the obvious dangers posed to workers.

As if more evidence were needed that the poultry rule is a horrible idea, it turns out that the rule also poses a number of serious threats to the environment that went unaddressed in the USDA’s analysis, as CPR President Rena …

April 5, 2013 by Adam Finkel

This post originally appeared on Harvard Law School’s Bill of Health and on RegBlog and is cross-posted with permisison.

For many of the federal agencies that promulgate and enforce regulations to protect public health, safety, and the environment, the era of “big government” never even began.  The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a prime example: the agency employs about 2,000 inspectors, who are collectively able to visit roughly 100,000 establishments each year to look for unsafe and unhealthy conditions in the workplace.  This may sound like an ample effort, until one considers the scope of the problem: OSHA’s rules apply to more than 8 million establishments, and every year more than 4,500 workers die in traumatic occupational accidents, while epidemiologists estimate that about 40,000 additional workers die prematurely from chronic over-exposures to toxic substances.

According to data …

April 4, 2013 by Ben Somberg

Over at Climate Progress, CPR Member Scholar Lisa Heinzerling critiques Cass Sunstein's new book, “Simpler: The Future of Government."

Rules on worker health, environmental protection, food safety, health care, consumer protection, and more all passed through Sunstein’s inbox. Some never left.


In Sunstein’s account, OIRA’s interventions also ensured “a well-functioning system of public comment” and “compliance with procedural ideals that might not always be strictly compulsory but that might be loosely organized under the rubric of ‘good government’.” No theme more pervades Sunstein’s book than the idea that government transparency is essential to good regulatory outcomes and to good government itself. The deep and sad irony is that few government processes are as opaque as the process of OIRA review, superintended for almost four years by Sunstein himself.

The full piece is here.

April 1, 2013 by Ben Somberg

From Member Scholar Lisa Heinzerling's new article in the Yale Journal on Regulation:

With President Obama's nomination of Gina McCarthy as the new Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), much attention has turned to her record as the EPA official in charge of air pollution programs, experience as the head of two states’ environmental agencies, and views on specific policies and priorities. And with the President’s nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), attention has likewise turned to her record and experience. Few recognize, however, the tight relationship between the two nominations: the Obama administration’s approach to governing will make Ms. Burwell Ms. McCarthy’s boss. ...

But it turns out the OMB itself seems not to want to accept accountability for running U.S. environmental policy. In a new law review article …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
April 30, 2013

Who Is Running OIRA?

April 30, 2013

OIRA Nominee's Disappearing Affiliation with Industry Think Tank

April 29, 2013

Tom McGarity Op-Ed in the Christian Science Monitor: Feeble Oversight in West, Texas, Was No Accident

April 26, 2013

Obama's Next Regulatory Czar

April 24, 2013

An Energy No-Brainer

April 23, 2013

Blistering Comments on State's Draft Keystone XL Environmental Impact Statement

April 19, 2013

Death of a Statute: The Kiobel Ruling