Amazon workers scored a huge union victory but face a tough road ahead
The union victory at Amazon’s JFK8 facility in Staten Island was truly remarkable. A majority of the employees there voted last week for union representation despite the company’s hard-nosed union avoidance tactics, marking the first successful U.S. organizing effort in the company’s history.
Author(s): Michael C. Duff
Supreme Court Climate Skeptics Will Help Decide the Fate of the Planet
Last fall, on the same day that the parties to the Paris Agreement gathered in Glasgow for their first day of their annual international climate meeting, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review an appellate court decision about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases from fossil fuel power plants under the Clean Air Act. Fast forward half a year: On February 28, the day that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change issued its sobering report on climate adaptation and harms to human and planetary well-being, the court heard oral arguments in the case—West Virginia v. EPA. Once again, it was a split-screen reality.
Author(s): Karen Sokol
EPA Needs to Reinstate a Critical Environmental Tool Scrapped by Trump
In its first year in office, the Biden administration has, to its credit, reversed a number of anti-environmental policies initiated by former President Donald Trump. Gone is the previous administration's infamous "two-for-one" policy, under which federal agencies had to eliminate two regulatory requirements for every new regulation they proposed. Numerous Trump-era initiatives that cut back needed air and water quality protections have also been rescinded. And, thankfully, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies are once again focused on responding to the mounting dangers posed by the climate crisis. Given these steps forward, it is perplexing that the current administration has not yet restored a critical environmental tool that has proven workable and highly beneficial in past years: EPA's Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs).
Author(s): Joel Mintz
Supreme Court Conservatives May Slash EPA's Authority on Climate
After the Supreme Court's decision last month rejecting the Biden vaccine mandate for large employers, it wasn't just the public health community that was asking "where do we go from here?" Environmental activists and attorneys immediately recognized that the Court's reasoning in the vaccine case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, will likely lead to a win for the fossil fuel industry in the biggest environmental case of this term, West Virginia v. EPA.
Author(s): Noah Sachs
State Courts Should Hear Cities' Climate Deception Lawsuits
On Jan. 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held oral argument in Baltimore v. BP PLC, a case in which the city is seeking to hold BP and other fossil fuel companies liable in state court for their systematic deceptive marketing campaign to hide the catastrophic dangers of their products. The goal of their decades-long, ongoing disinformation campaign: to lock in a fossil-fuel based society—and continue reaping astronomical profits—even during a fossil fuel-driven climate emergency. Other cities, counties, and states have brought similar suits in their state courts, all invoking long-standing state deceptive marketing laws. So why is Baltimore's case before a federal appellate court? The panel's three judges wanted to know—and the answer is more misrepresentation.
Author(s): Karen Sokol
Regulatory Government Is Democratic Government
The regulatory system is quite literally democracy in action, as it invites and empowers members of the public to work with their government to implement policies to keep our drinking water free of contaminants, ensure that the food on store shelves is safe to eat, prevent crooked banks from cheating customers, and much, much more. In fact, one of the defining attributes of the federal regulatory system, as the administrative law expert William Funk has noted, is the myriad opportunities it offers for public participation throughout the policy implementation process, from agenda setting to enforcement.
Author(s): James Goodwin
Why the Chemical Industry Is an Overlooked Climate Foe — and What to Do About It
Climate change is quickly evolving into climate catastrophe, and there’s a narrow window of time to do something about it. While the world works on solutions, there’s surprisingly little focus on the chemical industry, which accounts for roughly 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions — as well as other environmental harms.
Author(s): Darya Minovi
The Supreme Court’s Plan to Block Climate Action We Haven’t Even Taken Yet
On Feb. 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the first of an expected wave of cases challenging governmental action to address the climate crisis. The court’s grant of four petitions seeking review in this case—two by coal companies and two by states—portends that the six conservative justices will erect significant barriers to meaningful climate policy and will continue to interfere with democratic governance in disregard of the rule of law.
Author(s): Karen Sokol
Enron's Collapse 20 Years Later -- Lessons Not Learned
In December 2001, the wunderkind energy company Enron collapsed spectacularly, destroying $67 billion in assets held by mutual funds, retirees and individual stock investors. Some commentary 20 years later has focused on how Enron heralded the first of companies making money by “disruption"—even as some of this disruption also led to negative impacts on society. There is no doubt that, like Facebook, even Enron’s legitimate money-making enterprises had some negative spillovers as a side effect of wealth creation by innovation. But the problem isn’t with the idea of seeking innovation or testing disruptive ways of doing things; the problem is that government regulators, then and now, have been starved of their ability to effectively channel market forces and private innovation to wealth creation while avoiding negative externalities. Truly supporting the private sector, innovation, and wealth creation, requires more government regulation, not less.
Author(s): Victor Flatt
Learning Lessons to Protect Workers Through Pandemics
Although vaccination rates continue to rise and coverage on COVID-19 is fading away from prominent news dashboards, our rates are still higher than in summer 2020. While we still adapt to living and working with COVID-19, we must prepare for future public health emergencies so we do not lose another year figuring out our response.
Author(s): M. Isabelle Chaudry, Emily Ranson