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June 28, 2018 by James Goodwin

Scott Pruitt Wants to Pick Winners and Losers by Cooking the Books at EPA

UPDATE (July 2, 2018): EPA has granted a one-month extension to its original comment period. Public comments on the advance notice of proposed rulemaking are now due on August 13.

Soon after his confirmation, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt quickly set out to take a "whack-a-mole" approach to advancing his anti-safeguard agenda, attacking particular rules designed to protect Americans and the environment from specific hazards – climate change, various air and water pollutants, and so on – one by one. But with his latest set of proposals, he's looking to recreate EPA in his own pro-polluter image by instituting extreme and systemic changes in how the agency does its work. The result would be a radically different EPA – one that puts corporate profits ahead of the public's well-being – with changes aimed at making it easier for the agency to undo a host of safeguards already in place while making it far more difficult to adopt new ones in the future. 

His most recent target is the way EPA conducts the economic analyses of the standards and safeguards it develops. Pruitt and EPA imply a host of reasons for proposing to overhaul the agency's examination of benefits and costs in the advance notice of …

June 22, 2018 by Evan Isaacson
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This is an update to an earlier post explaining why the release of EPA’s TMDL expectations is important. These posts are part of an ongoing series on the midpoint assessment and long-term goals of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. 

This week, EPA’s Mid-Atlantic regional office released its final expectations for how states and their federal partners are to implement the third and final phase of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup process, which runs from 2018 to 2025. The good news is that the document is generally consistent with previous drafts and the expectations of Bay advocates. 

In my previous post, included below, I emphasized that the document would be a bellwether signaling the extent to which EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt or other Trump administration officials are overtly or publicly interfering with the future of the Bay cleanup process known as the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. At least …

June 22, 2018 by Katie Tracy
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June 22 marks the two-year anniversary of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (colloquially referred to as TSCA reform or new TSCA). The 2016 law provided some hope that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would finally address the potential risks from tens of thousands of untested and unregulated chemicals common in our households and hygiene products, our food and drinking water, our air, and our workplaces. Unfortunately, under President Trump and Scott Pruitt's leadership, EPA has undermined the law. 

Under Pruitt, EPA finalized controversial and legally indefensible framework rules for prioritizing chemicals for risk evaluation and for conducting those evaluations. Environmental and public health advocates have sued the agency over the framework rules because they allow numerous unreasonable health and environmental risks to continue unabated, in violation of the statute. As EPA continues with TSCA implementation under its flawed framework …

June 21, 2018 by James Goodwin
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This morning, CPR Member Scholar and Vermont Law School Professor Laurie Ristino will testify at a hearing before the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade of the House Small Business Committee. The majority's not-so-subtle objective for the hearing is to apply familiar conservative talking points against federal regulations to the specific context of small farms. 

In contrast to the subcommittee majority's three witnesses, all of whom represent industry trade associations that have strongly criticized environmental and other regulations in the past, Ristino's testimony offers a fuller account of the relationship between regulatory safeguards and the economic health of small and mid-sized farms. Indeed, in her testimony, Ristino effectively makes the case that a robust system of environmental, food safety, and worker protections help to provide fertile ground in which small and mid-sized farms can thrive. 

We can expect the majority and its three witnesses to spend much …

June 21, 2018 by Mariah Davis
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Yesterday in this space, I took a look at the progress that three Chesapeake Bay watershed states – New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia – have made in implementing their Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs), on their way – perhaps – to meeting the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution reduction targets for 2025. In this post, I'll take a look at Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

Delaware

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is leading the WIP implementation effort in the state. The department has convened a Chesapeake Bay Interagency Workgroup made up of representatives from each DNREC Division, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, Office of State Planning Coordination, County Conservation Districts, and other stakeholders. The workgroup will focus on two selected sectors: agriculture and developed. They are responsible for recommending and reviewing sub-allocating methodologies to the various nonpoint sources within the basins, assessing …

June 20, 2018 by Mariah Davis
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The Chesapeake Bay restoration effort is arguably one of the largest conservation endeavors ever undertaken. The Bay watershed is made up of 150 major rivers and streams and contains 100,000 smaller tributaries spread across Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. It supplies drinking water for more than 17 million residents and is one of the most important economic drivers on the East Coast of the United States.

The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), enacted in 2010 by the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay states, is a framework for allocating and eliminating excessive loads of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment polluting the watershed. It was designed to ensure that pollution control measures would reduce persistent dead zones in the Bay and its tidal tributaries by 2025. As part of the TMDL, the states and …

June 19, 2018 by Rena Steinzor, Wendy Wagner
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Originally published on The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt recently opened another front in his battle to redirect the agency away from its mission to protect human health and the environment. This time, he cobbled together a proposed rule that would drastically change how science is considered during the regulatory process.

Opposition soon mobilized. In addition to the traditional forces of public interest groups and other private-sector watchdogs, the editors of the most prominent scientific journals in the country raised the alarm and nearly 1,000 scientists signed a letter opposing the proposal.

This essay offers a contextual explanation of the reasons why scientists, who are typically loathe to enter the regulatory fray, are so alarmed.

In normal times, when agencies must evaluate the scientific evidence that informs a significant policy decision about health or environmental hazards …

June 18, 2018 by Daniel Farber
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Cross-posted from LegalPlanet.

The Trump administration is doing its best to wipe out Obama's regulatory legacy. How will the courts respond to such a radical policy change?

The philosophical clash between these last two presidents is especially stark, but this is far from being the first time that agencies have taken U-turns. This is the fifth time in the past 40 years that control of the White House has switched parties, with accompanying changes in regulatory approaches. Yet the underlying statutory framework in environment and energy law has not really changed that much, especially in the past 20 years. Thus, courts have repeatedly had to decide how much credence to give to an administrative position that reverses earlier policy.

This may seem a somewhat esoteric legal issue, but it is going to be crucial to how much Trump succeeds or fails in gutting environmental regulation. Here's what …

June 14, 2018 by Lisa Heinzerling
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Originally published on The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.

Since the Reagan administration, it has become commonplace for new presidential administrations, in one of their first official acts after inauguration, to freeze at least some pending regulatory actions of the prior administration. These freezes have been of varying breadth and have taken varying forms.

The Trump administration’s regulatory freeze was notable for its sweeping scope and blunderbuss execution. In the early months of President Donald J. Trump’s presidency, agencies delayed many dozens of final rules issued in the Obama administration, often with little explanation other than that a new President had been elected and he wanted the agencies to revisit existing regulations.

Before the Trump administration, there was surprisingly little law on agencies’ power to delay the effectiveness of final rules. A small cohort of judicial decisions came out of the Reagan years, and a …

June 13, 2018 by Hannah Wiseman
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It is widely recognized that President Trump has pushed an aggressive anti-regulatory agenda on the environmental front, but this agenda often hides a second, anti-free-market battle waged in the energy context.

For decades, Congress and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have worked to move the country toward competitive markets in the sale of wholesale energy – energy that generators sell to utilities, or which utilities sell to each other, and then to retail customers. Congress and FERC believed that introducing more competition into wholesale markets would reduce the cost of electricity for retail consumers because increased generation and access to generation would open up a previously limited supply. In staking out this approach, policymakers and administrators also recognized that competitive markets could encourage the construction of cleaner domestic energy resources.

In large part, this move has been successful. Deregulation of retail electricity markets has in some cases …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
June 28, 2018

Scott Pruitt Wants to Pick Winners and Losers by Cooking the Books at EPA

June 22, 2018

EPA Releases Expectations for Chesapeake Bay States

June 22, 2018

Nothing to Celebrate as TSCA Reform Turns Two

June 21, 2018

At Small Business Hearing, CPR's Ristino Will Connect the Dots between Strong Safeguards and Strong Small Farms

June 21, 2018

Approaching the Chesapeake Bay Midpoint Assessment -- Part II

June 20, 2018

Approaching the Chesapeake Bay Midpoint Assessment -- Part I

June 19, 2018

Deconstructing Regulatory Science