Jan. 28, 2016 by Daniel Farber

Legacy Goods and the Environment

The value of some goods like wilderness today depends on their futures.

Normally, economists imagine, equal experiences become less valuable as they recede further into the future.  But some types of goods don’t have that kind of relationship with future experiences.  They can become more valuable as they extend farther into to the future.

Take this blog post, for example.  I’m really happy that you’re reading it today.  But it will be even cooler if someone reads it ten years from now.  And it would be super cool if someone would read it a century from now. It’s also true that some people are more valuable because of their past histories – something owned by your grandparents might mean more to you than an otherwise identical object without that history.  Or both could be true — an heirloom might mean more because it belonged to your grandparents and will someday belong to your grandchildren.

What’s going on here is a bit like a network externality.  A phone is worth more, the more other people get phones.  In the situation I’m discussing, it’s as if a phone became more valuable the more people in the past …

Jan. 20, 2016 by James Goodwin

Still just a few weeks into the new year, both chambers of Congress are making it clear that attacks on our system of regulatory safeguards will remain a top priority in 2016.   The GOP-controlled House of Representatives has already passed—along partisan lines—two antiregulatory measures, and the Senate appears poised to follow suit with their own antiregulatory package expected to drop sometime this week.

CPR Member Scholars and staff are tracking all of these developments, working to educate policymakers about how these bills would make it all but impossible for protector agencies like the EPA and the FDA to fulfill their statutory mission of safeguarding people and the environment against unacceptable risks.  (A summary of their criticisms of the two House bills can be found in a series of letters that were sent to House leadership—see here and here.)

Yesterday, the New York Times joined …

Jan. 13, 2016 by Evan Isaacson

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is a tragic reminder of the hidden costs of our nation’s failing infrastructure.  Whether through benign neglect or deliberate “starve the beast” cost-cutting measures, we are continually seeing the costly and sometimes terrible consequences of failing to meet our infrastructure financing needs.  The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the state of U.S. infrastructure a D+ grade in its most recent 2013 Report Card, which included a D for both drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.  According to the organization, fixing the nation’s infrastructure will require $3.6 trillion through 2020.

This past week, EPA added its voice to this discussion over infrastructure finance with the release of its quadrennial Clean Watershed Needs Survey.  Every four years EPA submits this report to Congress, as required by the Clean Water Act, detailing the total capital wastewater and stormwater treatment and …

Jan. 13, 2016 by Thomas McGarity

President Obama devoted his final state-of-the-union speech to highlighting his administration’s considerable accomplishments, and, more importantly, to articulating a surprisingly robust progressive vision for the future.

And that vision properly included a large role for federal regulation. 

Noting that “reckless Wall Street,” not food stamp recipients, caused the financial meltdown of 2008-09, the President predicted, “working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at the expense of everyone else.” 

The obvious corollary is that the federal government must maintain a strong regulatory system to prevent companies from imposing risks to the financial and physical health of the American people and to their shared environment. We must therefore design and maintain a regulatory system that is impervious to capture by the companies that it is designed to regulate.

The President did …

Jan. 12, 2016 by

Last September, the Environmental Integrity Project put a spotlight on the dramatic increase in the number of industrial scale poultry houses being established on the Delmarva Peninsula.  In its report, More Phosphorus, Less Monitoring, the organization found that more than 200 new chicken houses had been permitted on the peninsula since November 2014, including 67 in just one Maryland county (Somerset County, on the state’s lower Eastern Shore). Shortly thereafter the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition, supported by the Center for Progressive Reform and other allies, as well as other groups like the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University, called on Maryland to issue a temporary moratorium on new chicken houses.  The Delmarva Poultry Industry and its allies fired back, and for a few weeks the two sides sparred through the media over the call for a moratorium. 

While the two sides were presenting …

Jan. 4, 2016 by Daniel Farber

Here are seven of the most important developments affecting the environment.

2015 was a big year for agency regulations and international negotiations. In 2016, the main focal points will be the political process and the courts. Here are seven major things to watch for. 

The Presidential Election. The election will have huge consequences for the environment. A Republican President is almost sure to try to roll back most of the environmental initiatives of the Obama Administration, undoing all the progress that has been made on climate change and other issues – and we might also see efforts to undo earlier environmental legislation.

The Senate. No one seems to think that control of the House of Representatives is at issue in this year’s election, but control of the Senate is potentially in play. If Republicans win the Presidency and keep both houses of Congress, we’re likely to …

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More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Jan. 28, 2016

Legacy Goods and the Environment

Jan. 20, 2016

Senate Antiregulatory Package Bill is Selling Corporate Welfare, But the New York Times Editorial Page Isn't Buying

Jan. 13, 2016

Maryland's Pressing Stormwater Infrastructure Needs

Jan. 13, 2016

President Obama's Progressive Vision for the Future

Jan. 12, 2016

Delmarva CAFO Expansion Continues Despite Calls for a Moratorium

Jan. 4, 2016

Key Environmental Developments Ahead in 2016