Nov. 30, 2016 by James Goodwin

New CPR Report: Protecting the Rights of Victims of Defective Aircraft

Many Americans would likely be shocked to learn how lax government oversight of the manufacture and design of aircraft, such as airplanes and helicopters, has become. After all, any list of those areas of the economy that would seem to cry out for strict regulation would have to include aircraft production and maintenance, considering that when aircraft are defective or contain defective parts, the consequences are almost inevitably catastrophic and tragic. 

Yet, in a 2004 audit, Congress' nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that severe budget constraints had compelled the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – the agency charged with overseeing aircraft safety – to outsource to private parties nearly 90 percent of the work it is supposed to do to ensure that aircraft meet applicable safety requirements. In some cases, the private parties taking on these tasks are the manufacturers themselves, raising at least the appearance, if not the reality, of a conflict of interest. 

Fortunately, even when regulatory programs such as the FAA's are at risk of falling short, consumers have long been able to count on another crucial legal institution to look out for their well-being: the courts. Though tort "reformers" refuse to acknowledge it, the civil justice system …

Nov. 29, 2016 by James Goodwin

What does Steve Bannon – who, despite his well-documented racism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny, was appointed as president-elect Trump's senior counselor and White House strategist – have to do with a rarified and wonky policy exercise such as regulatory cost-benefit analysis? Unfortunately, a lot, as it turns out. 

From a serious policy perspective, the Trump administration's approach to governance remains terra incognita, and this is especially the case with its approach to implementing laws through regulations. So far, Trump has signaled that he has adopted the establishment Republican Party's line on opposing all regulatory safeguards across the board, putting the narrow interests of politically powerful multinational corporations ahead of working families and struggling communities. If and when he follows through, one of the things we can expect is that his administration will continue to subject new agency safeguards to a highly slanted and anti-regulatory test known as …

Nov. 29, 2016 by Matthew Freeman

Ever since Richard Nixon's vice president, Maryland's own Spiro Agnew, described the nation's ink-stained journalists as "nattering nabobs of negativism," attacks on the media have been reliably base-pleasing material for conservative politicians. But Donald Trump is in a category all his own. For most pols, attacking the press is a way to deflect criticism. For Trump, it was a defining element of his candidacy. At his rallies, he kept the press corps literally penned up so that he could more easily invite his audiences to scorn them. He's continued the same media-hostile approach during the transition, despite an apparent expectation that he would somehow become normalized by virtue of his election. There's no reason to think he will change after he's inaugurated.

Last week was littered with examples of hostility. Trump had an off-the-record session with television news heavyweights in which …

Nov. 22, 2016 by Thomas McGarity

We are about to experience a fifth major assault on the health, safety, environmental, and consumer protections that Congress put in place during the 1960s and 1970s, protections that most of us take for granted. And all indications are that this assault will be more intense and more comprehensive than any of the prior assaults on the governmental protections that shield our families and communities from the ravages of an unfettered free market. 

In my 2013 book, Freedom to Harm, I documented the first four assaults on federal regulatory protections by a dedicated group of trade associations, corporate lobbyists, think tanks, conservative foundations, and activist groups who were determined to return the American political economy to the laissez-faire benchmark of the late 19th century Gilded Age. 

The First Assault began during the last two years of the Carter administration and lasted well into the Reagan administration. Because …

Nov. 21, 2016 by Matt Shudtz

Hazy as they may be, we are all looking into our crystal balls, trying to envision what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for the world around us. The first glimpses we have of the future – Steve Bannon at Trump's right hand, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor – project something much darker and more insular than befits a nation whose arc of history is as progressive as ours. Of course, that arc is long and there have been many setbacks and struggles along the way. A Trump presidency will test us. Since November 8, I've witnessed family and friends, allies and colleagues vacillate between moments of despair and moments of inspired energy.

At CPR, we have set out to channel that tension and turn it into something useful. Beginning tomorrow with a post from Tom McGarity, CPR Member Scholars and …

Nov. 21, 2016 by Dave Owen

Editor's note: This post was originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog on November 10. While it was primarily written for environmental law students, it contains wisdom for everyone who cares about our environment and our natural heritage.

* * * 

"As a future environmental attorney, I'm confused and angry and sad. And as a human being, I'm equally as confused and angry and sad. A lot of us students are trying to process all of this today."

That was the beginning of an email that one of my students sent me yesterday. I think she speaks for a lot of us. So I thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts, some but not all of them optimistic, about what we face going forward. I should say at the outset that I am writing for the benefit of readers who, like me, think environmental …

Nov. 18, 2016 by Evan Isaacson

Last week, the Center for Progressive Reform co-hosted a symposium with the University of Maryland School of Law entitled "Halftime for the Bay TMDL." The symposium was supposed to be about what states, cities, counties, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), industry, and citizens can do to accelerate progress in the second half of the 15-year Chesapeake Bay clean-up effort. However, participants decided that it was equally important to discuss the potentially alarming prospects facing future Bay progress when a new administration and Congress take control next year.

Given that the conference was held one day after the election, it is no surprise that the agenda was partially hijacked by the need to answer big questions about the very future of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Attendees readily identified some threats to the Bay TMDL, such as the pending congressional effort to …

Nov. 10, 2016 by Matt Shudtz

Where do we stand now that the election is over and the presidential transition is beginning? That's a common question these days. Those of us striving in the public interest had come to expect progress, and now that expectation has been dashed. For eight years, President Obama and his team of dedicated public servants did something remarkable. With their deep appreciation and respect for our system of government, they created conditions ripe for a vigorous and uplifting debate about the public policies that shape our lives. Now we are left to wonder if those conditions will endure.

Public interest advocates from countless walks of life had settled into a groove over the last eight years. Progress on environmental protection, public health, workers’ rights, civil rights, criminal justice, and many other fronts was never as fast as we would have liked, but we knew that if we …

Nov. 8, 2016 by Joel Mintz

Today, Florida residents are voting on a number of items including Constitutional Amendment 1, misleadingly titled "Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice." Although it gives the appearance of promoting solar energy, Amendment 1 is actually a deceptively worded attempt by big, investor-owned utility companies (including FPL and Duke Energy), masquerading under the banner of "Consumers for Smart Solar," to suppress the growth of solar energy in the Sunshine State and maintain the utilities' current monopoly in the state's energy markets. 

While Amendment 1 purports to afford Floridians the right to install rooftop solar panels on their homes and businesses, that right already exists under Florida law. What is actually needed for solar energy to compete with and replace fossil-fuel generated energy is the installation of "net metering," a technique that will provide an incentive for rooftop solar power users to "sell back" rooftop-solar-generated power …

Nov. 7, 2016 by Victor Flatt

During the U.S. presidential race, much ink has been spilled on how important the election is. But one of the most important issues of all – climate change – has made little appearance in the election discourse, even though it is one of many issues on which the candidates have sharp divisions.

But those divisions are not just important at the federal level. Climate change and environmental risk have also been politically divisive at the state level. Many state governments have made decisions about easing, ignoring, or repealing environmental and climate laws, and these decisions could literally be killing people.

We are all familiar with the Flint drinking water crisis of the last year, where many people, including vulnerable children, have been harmed by lead exposure brought about by budget decisions about the water supply, which failed to account for potential environmental impacts. Other states, including Texas, have …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Nov. 30, 2016

New CPR Report: Protecting the Rights of Victims of Defective Aircraft

Nov. 29, 2016

Racism, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and Trump Advisor Steve Bannon

Nov. 29, 2016

Will the Media Rise to the Trump Challenge or Just Fall into His Trap?

Nov. 22, 2016

The Assault on Our Safeguards

Nov. 21, 2016

What Can We Expect from a President Trump?

Nov. 21, 2016

Six Thoughts for an Environmental Law Student Wondering What This All Means

Nov. 18, 2016

Long-Term Forecast for Bay Restoration: Cloudy with a Chance of Storms