Nov. 24, 2015 by James Goodwin

One Year In, the Administration's ‘Path to Progress' Benefits American People and Environment

From the moment they secured majorities in both chambers, congressional Republicans have made no secret of their intention to launch an all-out, guerilla warfare-style campaign against the federal government — and even the very notion of governance itself. Accordingly, they have pursued a strategy of salt-the-earth sabotage designed to spread like a communicable disease the dysfunction that has long characterized the legislative branch to the executive branch. Given the unrepentant nihilism, many political observers were quick to pen their epitaphs for the Obama Administration after the 2014 mid-term elections, opining that little progress would be made during the final two years in office, particularly where public safeguards and environmental protections were concerned.

But something funny has happened over the last year. To the dismay of congressional Republicans and their corporate benefactors, the Obama Administration has had one of the most productive years of any president in recent memory, at least on the regulatory front, securing critical new safeguards for people and the environment that will continue to deliver such benefits as cleaner air and safer food for decades to come.

For many, the lesson to be learned is that there’s one obstacle even this kamikaze Congress can’t overcome: the …

Nov. 23, 2015 by Katie Tracy

Late last week, the White House released its fall 2015 Unified Agenda—the semi-annual report on regulations under development or review by each federal agency. As usual, and therefore of little surprise, this latest agenda spells delay for a laundry list of critical safeguards at several agencies.

According to CPR senior analyst James Goodwin’s review of the regulatory agendas for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and several other agencies, several new protections will be delayed anywhere from two months to over a year.

A look at the Department of Labor’s regulatory agenda also signals extensive delays for some long-anticipated worker protections. Here is the status of rules under development at DOL classified as “major” or “economically significant” rules:



Spring 2015

Fall 2015


Combustible Dust


Pre-rulemaking: expected to initiate small business review panel by 02/2016 …

Nov. 20, 2015 by James Goodwin

Opponents of safeguards are fond of decrying what they claim is a regulatory system out of control, churning out rules at a break-neck pace.  It’s not difficult to refute  this claim when the president releases the twice-annual regulatory agenda, which spells out all the active rulemakings that are currently pending and the expected timetables for making progress on those rules that agencies expect to make over the next 12 months.  Sure enough, time and time again the semiannual regulatory agenda demonstrate that most facets of the regulatory system are moving along at a snail’s pace, the victims of politics, under-funded agencies, and a rulemaking process that favors industry.

By comparing the expected timetables in this regulatory agenda against those from the most recent one in Spring 2015, one can see how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other agencies …

Nov. 18, 2015 by Evan Isaacson

Last week the Maryland Court of Appeals heard several hours of oral argument in back to back (to back) cases regarding whether five different municipal stormwater (“MS4”) permits issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) complied with the federal Clean Water Act and state water pollution laws. Although divided into separate cases due to their unique procedural histories, the three cases were consolidated into one marathon oral argument due to the substantial overlap of the issues involved. The legal arguments have changed significantly since the first motions and petitions were filed several years ago, with some of the most ambitious legal theories having fallen away. What remains in dispute in these cases are largely procedural, though still crucial, issues regarding how to structure the permits so as to ensure that the permits are enforceable and that the counties are accountable to the public. Basically, the …

Nov. 17, 2015 by Matthew Freeman

In an op-ed for The Hill, CPR Member Scholar Joel Mintz takes a look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and concludes that it’s insufficiently protective of the environment, the Administration’s assertions notwithstanding.

In his piece, he notes that the TPP “contains no mention whatsoever of what is widely seen as the most pressing threat to the global environment: disruption of the earth’s climate from the release of greenhouse gases.” Indeed, he notes, the TPP could encourage more fracking, thus contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. He goes on to write,

The most potentially damaging threat posed to U.S. environmental laws by the TPP, however, stems from the agreement’s mechanism for the settlement of inter-party disputes: the Investor State Dispute Resolution system (ISDS). This portion of the treaty creates an enormous opportunity for multi-national corporations—acting with the cooperation of friendly nations—to bypass …

Nov. 10, 2015 by Katie Tracy

A startling new report by Oxfam America reveals just how dangerous it is to work inside a poultry processing plant. The report is packed full of alarming statistics and heart-breaking personal stories from brave workers, exposing an industry that fails to protect workers from well-known hazards and that discourages workers from reporting injuries when they occur.

Despite the underreporting of injuries and illnesses, the poultry industry’s safety record is dismal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry had 4.5 total recordable cases per 100,000 full-time workers in 2013, compared to the national average for private industry of 3.3 total recordable cases. Among the common injuries in the industry, poultry workers suffer a high incidence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), like carpal tunnel syndrome and shoulder injuries, from repetitive and forceful twisting, cutting, and chopping movements.

Recognizing these hazards, the federal Occupational Safety …

Nov. 9, 2015 by Matthew Freeman

Fostering informed debate about sound regulatory policy to protect health, safety, and the environment is one of the Center for Progressive Reform’s fundamental objectives. Presidential candidates, on the other hand, like to focus on the issues that get them elected, not necessarily the issues that are important.

Unfortunately, the media is increasingly complicit in avoiding genuine issue discussions. Weekend before last, GOP candidate Carly Fiorina appeared on ABC’s Sunday public affairs talk show, “This Week,” and in response to an essentially political question about Paul Ryan from the usually fine ABC journalist Martha Raddatz, Fiorina veered into regulatory policy. Here’s ABC’s transcript:

RADDATZ:  I want to start off with Paul Ryan. He was a congressional staffer, elected to the House at age 28. Is he too much of a Washington insider to change so-called business as usual in Washington?


Nov. 4, 2015 by Daniel Farber

How Law Schools Serve the Public

Most people probably think of law schools, when they think of them at all, as places that train future lawyers.  That’s true, and it’s important, but law schools do a lot more.  Faculty scholarship makes a difference — law review articles laid the foundation for many of the ideas now guiding judges (both on the Right and the Left).  But I’d like to focus here on another, more recent activity by law schools — the environmental law clinics and research centers that have sprung up in recent years. There are too many of these across the country to describe here.  Instead, I’ll stick to the University of California law schools. Even so, space allows a discussion of only a fraction of their activities.

One key activity is a joint project of Berkeley and UCLA, although it’s housed here …

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More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Nov. 24, 2015

One Year In, the Administration's ‘Path to Progress' Benefits American People and Environment

Nov. 23, 2015

What's on the Labor Department's Regulatory Agenda?

Nov. 20, 2015

Fall 2015 Regulatory Agenda is Out; Clock is Ticking

Nov. 18, 2015

Confusion, Frustration as Maryland High Court Hears Stormwater Permits Case

Nov. 17, 2015

CPR's Joel Mintz on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Nov. 10, 2015

Chickens Aren't the Only Ones Suffering at the Slaughterhouse

Nov. 9, 2015

Shallow, Shallower, Shallowest