Dec. 31, 2016 by Robert Verchick

For 2017: Grit, Hope, and Cher's Feathers

My, but the year 2016 has been a humdinger, a whopper, a real sockdolager. Donald Trump is measuring drapes for the White House. His allies in the Republican Party hold both chambers of Congress. At the state and local levels, Democratic influence is at historic lows. Did I mention there are more than a hundred vacancies on the federal court to be filled by a soon-to-be President Trump, including an open seat on the Supreme Court? 

I will not lie. In the weeks after the November election, my brain and body felt like an empty husk. I camped out on the couch grading papers, watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and talking to my cats. Later, I pulled out the books. I browsed through works by Desmond Tutu, read Tich Nhat Hanh's meditation on fear, and, of course, revisited Orwell. Not as fun as Swing Time, but it did help me sleep. 

Since then, we at CPR have been thinking about how to leverage our organization's capabilities during the Trump administration. After sighs and hugs, we've started planning a strategy to make our case throughout the country, at the national, state, and municipal levels.   

As we greet …

Dec. 21, 2016 by Matthew Freeman

My wife is a high school history teacher, and pretty much every year, she has at least one story to tell about a student lifting some significant chunk of text from a website and using it in a paper without attribution. The kids get caught by those nifty anti-plagiarism search engines teachers use, which are about as heartless and automatic as those unmanned, and frankly, unsportsmanlike, speed cameras that dot my neighborhood streets.

I suppose it’s easier to accidently plagiarize in the age of the Internet, what with cutting and pasting. So I have a smidgen of sympathy for my wife’s 9th graders when they get busted because I wonder if their academic sins were accidental.

I’m willing to extend no such presumption of innocence to the House Freedom Caucus. Apparently, not content to misappropriate the word “freedom,” they also are heavy into borrowing …

Dec. 19, 2016 by Daniel Farber

Jim Cason, the GOP mayor of Coral Gables, Florida, wants us to talk about climate change:

"'We're looking to a future where we're going to be underwater, a great portion of South Florida,' Cason said. 'For all of us down here, this is really not a partisan issue. We see it. We see the octopus in the room, not the elephant.'" (E&E News)

An octopus in the room? It's a striking image. If you're wondering what prompted that unusual metaphor, Rob Verchick and I discussed the background in a recent op-ed in the Miami Herald:

"Last month, the Herald reported that a live octopus had been found in a flooded parking garage at Miami's Mirador 1000 condominium complex, along with a number of fish. This was, to say the least, a surprise...

"What was an octopus doing in a parking garage? Well …

Dec. 15, 2016 by Joseph Tomain

As President-elect Donald Trump continues to shape his cabinet, we are seeing plenty of indications of how agencies like the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and even the State Department will approach energy and environmental policy. Trump's stated policy preferences and those of his nominees threaten to upend decades of progress toward a clean energy future as they exacerbate the politicization of and polarization around energy development and our environment.

Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, U.S. energy policy was largely bipartisan and focused on nonrenewable sources. Federal legislation created an energy policy dominated by fossil fuels and nuclear power. Even today, with the increased use of renewable resources, fossil fuels and nuclear power account for 89 percent of U.S. energy production.

Things change, albeit slowly. Bipartisan legislation since the energy crises of the 1970s has encouraged and required …

Dec. 14, 2016 by Rena Steinzor

A burgeoning and little-regulated private industry that specially mixes drugs at so-called compounding pharmacies poses a public-health hazard that the Trump administration is about to make a whole lot worse. An earlier version of this story appeared in The American Prospect. 

President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to eliminate 70 to 80 percent of all federal regulations, and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) rulebook is near the top of his list. Close Trump adviser Newt Gingrich has denounced the FDA as the nation's leading "job killer," and has called the agency "a major prison guard stopping the breakout in health."

If the Trump administration makes good on these threats, an already weakened FDA could approach paralysis, exposing millions of patients to unsafe medications. Particularly at risk will be those who receive ostensibly "sterile" injections for back and neck pain, among other ailments, from compounding pharmacies …

Dec. 13, 2016 by Brian Gumm

President-Elect Donald Trump has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as his Interior Secretary, and former Texas governor Rick Perry as his Energy Secretary. The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has released statements on the picks.

Robert Glicksman, CPR Board Member, on Department of the Interior Secretary nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT): 

Donald Trump's selection of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as Secretary of the Interior does nothing to erase fears that the President-Elect prioritizes private extractive and developmental uses of federal lands at the expense of management in the long-term interests of the American people. 

So far, Trump's transition team has made it clear that the new administration intends to abandon the Department of the Interior's mission of protecting and preserving our nation's natural heritage for use by …

Dec. 13, 2016 by Joel Mintz

Efficient, professional law enforcement is a cornerstone of effective and responsible environmental protection. It is the cop on the environmental beat. While some regulated firms will likely continue to comply with environmental requirements in the absence of vigorous, evenhanded enforcement, other companies will certainly proceed to pollute America's air, water, and land with reckless arrogance. With these realities in mind, it is imperative to recognize the serious, potential threat posed to environmental enforcement by the forthcoming Donald Trump administration and the next Congress.

Perhaps the most extreme threat to environmental enforcement also seems the most unlikely one to be realized. That is a wholesale effort to repeal the current set of major federal environmental statutes and (perhaps) replace them with legal regimes that prevailed in the 1950s – an era when state governments dominated environmental protection and the federal government had a negligible role. This might occur …

Dec. 12, 2016 by Joseph Tomain

This blog post is based on the Introduction to my forthcoming book, Clean Power Politics: The Democratization of Energy (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

One year ago, 195 nations met in Paris and signed what has been hailed as an historic climate agreement.1 To date, 116 parties have ratified the convention, and it went into force on November 4 of this year.2 President Obama acknowledged the talks as a "turning point, that this is the moment we finally determined we would save our planet."3 The signatories pledged to reduce carbon emissions with the intent of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing the more ambitious target of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Although the 11-page agreement does not set legally binding emissions limits, the parties committed themselves to a regime that requires them to report on the …

Dec. 9, 2016 by Matthew Freeman

In a statement Wednesday responding to President-elect Trump’s choice of climate change denier Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, CPR President Robert Verchick said that the choice was “a clear indication that the administration plans a full-throated assault on environmental protections.”

In an op-ed in The New York Times this morning, CPR Member Scholar William Buzbee describes some of the challenges Pruitt and Trump will face as they undertake that regressive effort to unravel the fabric of rules and regulations protecting the environment. Trump has threatened a wholesale rollback of environmental protections, but Buzbee warns that:

Regulatory reversals lacking a legal or factual basis would result in lawsuits by citizens, states and industries supporting the regulations. Challengers would argue that the rules are rooted in statutory language, court precedents and in careful documentation of environmental, technological and market facts. On the climate, for example …

Dec. 8, 2016 by Evan Isaacson

Over the last couple of months, a pair of actions taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demonstrate the glacial pace of federal stormwater management policy under the Clean Water Act. In October, EPA rejected a series of petitions by a group of environmental organizations to expand regulatory protections for certain urban waterways. Then last month, EPA issued a new national rule clarifying existing urban water quality regulations, but only because it was forced to respond to a federal court decision now more than a dozen years old.

Let's start with the good news, however minor it may be. The new stormwater rule that EPA released in November is primarily procedural in nature. The issue at hand is when the public should be able to provide input to EPA and the states regarding the issuance of permits to their towns and cities that regulate polluted …

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

For 2017: Grit, Hope, and Cher's Feathers

Dec. 21, 2016

The Plagiarism Caucus

Dec. 19, 2016

GOP Mayor: Let's Talk About the Octopus in the Room

Dec. 15, 2016

The Trump Troika and Regressive Energy Policy

Dec. 14, 2016

Beware Compounded Drugs -- Especially Under Trump's FDA

Dec. 13, 2016

CPR Statements: Trump Picks for EPA, Interior, Energy Chart the Wrong Course for Our Health, Our Environment, and Our Energy Policies

Dec. 13, 2016

Environmental Enforcement in the Crosshairs: Grave Threats to a Vital Protection for All Americans