Aug. 8, 2016 by Catherine O'Neill

Cleaner Waters for Washington at Long Last?

The Clean Water Act instructs states and tribes to revisit their water quality standards every three years, updating them as necessary to reflect newer science and to ensure progress in cleaning up the nation's waters – to the point where people can safely catch and eat fish. Last Monday, Washington State's Department of Ecology unveiled its long-awaited update, revising standards that had been developed back in 1992. The state's rulemaking process has been marked by controversy and delay, which I have criticized several times in the past (see here and here and here and here). Do the new standards finally mean progress? 

Ecology's director, Maia Bellon, characterized the new standards as "protective and achievable." While Washington's standards are indeed likely to be attainable – as Special Assistant to the Director Kelly Susewind candidly told The Tacoma Daily News, "Ecology doesn't expect the new rules to have any immediate or near-term impact on permitted entities" – it is difficult to see how Ecology can claim they are "protective."  

To the contrary, for many of the contaminants that matter for human health, Ecology's final rule either does nothing to improve the protectiveness of its standards or, worse, it …

Aug. 5, 2016 by Mollie Rosenzweig

Americans are increasingly looking for reforms in our food system. Limited use of pesticides, animal welfare, and sustainability are just some of the issues becoming more important to consumers when they make decisions about their food. Unfortunately, Congress and the regulatory agencies charged with overseeing the food supply have worked slowly – very slowly – to address these and other pressing issues as of late. On the other hand, the food industry and retailers have seen the writing on the wall and have started to shift some of their practices, enough at least that they can market their efforts to consumers. 

But how extensive are these changes really? Will they address the many systemic hazards and shortcomings in food production and distribution that can harm both our health and the environment? 

In recent years, large players in the food and grocery industries have emerged as some of the most …

Aug. 4, 2016 by Daniel Farber

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued new guidance this week on considering climate change in environmental impact statements (EIS). Here are the key points:

  1. Quantification. The guidance recommends that agencies quantify projected direct and indirect emissions, using the amount of emissions as a proxy for the eventual impact on climate change. The EIS should also discuss the impacts of climate change, referring to government reports on the subject for conclusions. A formal cost-benefit analysis is not required and should not be used when aspects of the project can't be quantified.  
  2. NEPA Thresholds. The draft guidance contained numerical thresholds at which carbon emissions would be considered significant enough to trigger the need for a full-scale environmental impact statement. Disappointingly, those have disappeared from the final version. The final guidance says that "most Federal agency actions" won't require an EIS solely because of carbon …

Aug. 3, 2016 by Brian Gumm

NEWS RELEASE: Memo to the Next President: Let's Make Government Work for All of Us 

Over the past several weeks, the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has urged the next president to take a constructive approach to our government and our system of health, safety, environmental, and financial safeguards. With Election Day just three months away, CPR is releasing a new paper that expands on those themes and provides a comprehensive blueprint for how the next president can rebuild our system of regulatory protections. 

The new paper, Memo to the Next President: A Progressive Vision of Government and Protective Safeguards, calls on the next leader of the United States to put forth a positive vision of government and to ensure that our system for developing regulatory protections advances the public interest. 

"The decades-long campaign against regulation and government helped set the stage for avoidable disasters such …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Aug. 31, 2016

Presidential Transitions Are Important. So Why Aren't They More Transparent?

Aug. 29, 2016

Verchick in Slate: Connecting the Dots Between Climate Change and Our Vulnerable Energy Grid

Aug. 25, 2016

'Cultural Cognition' Theory Offers a Path to Climate Change Progress

Aug. 23, 2016

Comments from CPR: Forced Arbitration Proposal Is Strong but Should Be Stronger

Aug. 18, 2016

CPR's Shapiro Takes on the Politicization of Science in North Carolina

Aug. 15, 2016

Sorry, Senator Vitter. The CFPB Is in Full Compliance with Small Business Outreach Law.

Aug. 11, 2016

It's Well Past Time for OSHA to Act on Heat Stress