Dec. 4, 2015 by

Maryland Deregulatory Commission Targets Protective Bay Regulations

Politicians are famous for reneging on, or conveniently ignoring, campaign pledges and other promises.  In some cases, politicians put themselves in untenable positions, such as when they offer conflicting promises to different interest groups.  This is when it becomes easy to see what an elected official’s true priorities are.  Governor Hogan proclaimed that he would be “the best environmental governor that’s ever served.”  Of course, he also campaigned for “regulatory reform” in Maryland. 

The Governor established a Regulatory Reform Commission by executive order in July, stacking it with an almost all-industry roster of members, and charging it with “fixing our burdensome, antiquated, broken, and out-of-control regulatory environment in Maryland.”  This week, we got to see the results of the commission’s work, and the biggest victim was the environment.  Of the 29 specific regulations or regulatory chapters targeted by the commission, all but 10 were Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) regulations.  It’s not as if “cutting red tape,” or streamlining administrative processes necessarily means weakening standards designed to protect public health or the environment.  There’s no reason that the commission needed to focus on rolling back environmental protections to achieve its stated objectives.  But that …

Dec. 3, 2015 by Rena Steinzor

Justice was done today by a hard-working jury in West Virginia that convicted Don Blankenship of conspiracy to obstruct federal mine safety rules.  This conspiracy was the primary cause of an enormous explosion that killed 29 men in the worst mine disaster in 40 years.  Although the jury was not presented with the question of whether Blankenship was directly responsible for the explosion, it did decide that he played Russian roulette with miners’ lives.  By underfunding efforts to comply with and harassing employees to ignore safety rules so they could “dig coal” faster, and threatening managers with dismissal if they worked to solve ventilation and other problems at the mine, Blankenship made an already hazardous workplace into a horror show that made men fear for their lives every time they journeyed thousands of feet underground.

Defense counsel will undoubtedly make much of the jury’s decision not …

Dec. 2, 2015 by James Goodwin

In a post last week, I noted that, over the last year, the Obama Administration has finalized all or part of several of the 13 regulatory actions highlighted in a 2014 Center for Progressive Reform report challenging the President to focus renewed energy during the remainder of his term on securing critical new protections for people and the environment. But the President’s to-do list isn’t finished, and for the remaining regulatory actions on the list, progress has been modest or, in some cases, apparently non-existent.  Each of these regulatory actions, if completed, would likewise contribute to President Obama’s increasingly impressive body of work on public safeguards, which when taken as a whole is making our air and water healthier, our homes and workplaces safer, and our environment better protected against irreversible degradation.  In contrast, to leave this work unfinished would be—to borrow a …

Dec. 1, 2015 by Robert Verchick

In August I commemorated the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by pedaling along the self-guided "Levee Disaster Bike Tour." I began beneath the muscular oaks along New Orleans' Bayou St. John and threaded my way around potholes and waterfowl to pay my respects at three prominent levee-breach sites. 

The ride gave me a chance to reflect on many problems that my adopted hometown of New Orleans faces, as well as countless opportunities for improving the policies that will take advantage of my neighbors' incredible resilience and keep us heading toward a more just and sustainable future. 

In my new role as President of the Board of Directors of the Center for Progressive Reform, I thought about these issues in a new light. What might this remarkable, nationwide group of legal scholars and professional advocates do to engage in the debates that will shape the future of New Orleans …

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