CPR Archive for James Goodwin

FERC Rejection of Coal Subsidies Proposal Demonstrates Importance of Independent Agencies

by James Goodwin | January 09, 2018

On January 8, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) struck a resounding blow against the Trump administration's ill-advised agenda to put its thumb on the scale of the energy market by propping up the coal industry, unanimously rejecting a controversial proposal by Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry. Perry's plan would have resulted in working families and small businesses subsidizing the coal industry to the tune of hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. Dozens of energy policy experts have explained the substantive issues of this action, but I want to focus on an important procedural matter – namely, how this episode demonstrates the importance of guarding the actual independence of independent regulatory agencies like FERC. 

FERC is among a class of federal administrative agencies that Congress specially designed to be reasonably "independent" from political interference by the president, hence the moniker "independent regulatory agencies." Other such agencies include the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

In creating these agencies, Congress recognized that their missions were too important and involved policy matters too technically complex to leave them unduly vulnerable to the vagaries of wanton political scheming. Instead, Congress sought to ensure that as much as possible, sound, expertise-driven policymaking carried the day. 

FERC illustrates the importance of this design. Its mission involves overseeing the production and distribution of energy resources in a way that balances ...

Trump Speech on Deregulation, Fall Unified Agenda Continue Dangerous Assault on Our Safeguards

by James Goodwin | December 15, 2017
This post was originally released as a press statement on December 14 in response to President Donald Trump's speech on deregulation and his administration's Fall 2017 Unified Agenda. Starting on Day One, the Trump administration has perpetrated an all-out assault on essential public safeguards for health, safety, the environment, and American families' financial security, and today, the president took the time to revel in all the damage he has overseen. The administration's anti-safeguard agenda for the coming year promises more ...

CPR Member Scholar Hammond Brings a Real EPA 'Back to Basics' Lesson to Senate

by James Goodwin | November 14, 2017
Today, CPR Member Scholar Emily Hammond is testifying at a Senate subcommittee hearing that will examine four bills that amount to "rifle shot" attacks on the Clean Air Act's public health and environmental protections. Hammond's testimony before the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee casts in powerful terms what is at stake with these bills, highlighting how they contribute to the Trump administration's own assault on public safeguards. She also explains ...

At House Oversight Hearing, A Call for Trump to Abandon the Pillars of His Assault on Safeguards

by James Goodwin | October 24, 2017
Today, I will testify before two subcommittees of the House Oversight Committee at a hearing that I hope will provide a critical examination of the Trump administration's so-called "Regulatory Reform Task Forces." Created by Trump's Executive Order 13777, these task forces are essentially designed to be "hit squads" embedded at each agency with the goal of carrying out the Trump administration's assault on public safeguards from within. In my testimony, I provide a comprehensive critique of the task forces, as ...

Trump to America's Most Vulnerable Communities: You're on Your Own

by James Goodwin | September 28, 2017
UPDATE: President Trump is no longer scheduled to speak on deregulation on October 2, but the planned deregulatory "summit" with various cabinet-level agencies is still slated to occur. Government-sanctioned cruelty makes for shocking images, as the events of the past few weeks demonstrate. People in wheelchairs forcibly dragged from congressional hearing rooms for protesting legislative attempts to strip them of access to affordable health care. The uncertainty on the faces of Puerto Rican parents as they survey the damage to ...

At House Judiciary Hearing, CPR's Steinzor to Call for Repeal of Congressional Review Act

by James Goodwin | September 27, 2017
Tomorrow, CPR Member Scholar Rena Steinzor is scheduled to appear before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law of the House Judiciary Committee to testify at a hearing focused on the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA is a controversial law that has been aggressively used this past year by the majority in Congress and the Trump administration to repeal 14 regulatory safeguards that would have protected consumers, workers, and our environment. In her testimony, Steinzor makes the ...

Benefits Lost: The Blueprint for the Trump Administration's Assault on Our Safeguards

by James Goodwin | July 20, 2017
Early this morning, the Trump administration released its Spring 2017 Regulatory Agenda, which outlines the regulatory and deregulatory actions the administration expects to take over the next 12 months. Because it is the first of the Trump administration, this document is particularly significant. By comparing it with the last Regulatory Agenda of the Obama administration, which was released in fall of 2016, we are able to see what pending regulatory actions the Trump administration has abandoned or delayed. Only a ...

Trump's 'Small Business' Office Solicits Update for Anti-Safeguards Propaganda

by James Goodwin | July 06, 2017
Late last Thursday, the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Office of Advocacy announced that it was soliciting proposals for "small business research" projects. The solicitation – and particularly the category of topics that the SBA Office of Advocacy has selected for potential research projects – offers one of the first clues on how this obscure but powerful office is likely to operate under the Trump administration.  The SBA Office of Advocacy is a small and unusual office within the federal government ...

The Most Important Revolving Door You've Never Heard Of

by James Goodwin | June 29, 2017
Earlier this week, Axios and Greenwire ($) reported that international oil behemoth BP is bringing on a new lobbyist to work on "[r]egulatory reform advocacy related to Federal energy and environmental rules," as described in the required lobbying disclosure statement. That in itself is hardly news. What makes this story remarkable is who the lobbyist is, or in this case, was. Nathan Frey, who appears to be the only partner with the lobbying firm Regulatory Strategies and Solutions Group, used ...

New Report: With Assault on Safeguards, Trump Trounces Constitution, U.S. History

by James Goodwin | June 21, 2017
Today, Neomi Rao is likely to take one step closer to becoming the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) – that is, the Trump administration's "regulatory czar" – with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee expected to favorably report her nomination to the Senate floor for a final confirmation vote.  As detailed in an April 2017 CPR report on her nomination, Rao would arrive at her new position with little substantive expertise related to ...

The Congressional Review Act Is No Solution

by James Goodwin | June 01, 2017
This post was originally published on The Regulatory Review. Over the last several years, conservative opponents of regulatory safeguards for health, safety, the environment, consumers, and the economy have gradually coalesced around a grand theory for why the supposed balance of policymaking powers between the executive and legislative branches has become so, well, unbalanced. These opponents’ theory goes something like this: Congress faces strong incentives to delegate too much substantive policymaking authority to federal agencies because delegation creates a political “win-win.” By passing statutes with ...

New Amicus Supports Challenge to Trump's 'Two-for-One' Order

by James Goodwin | May 25, 2017
Yesterday, ten distinguished law professors, all of them CPR Member Scholars writing in their individual capacities, filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by Public Citizen, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Communication Workers of America challenging as illegal and unconstitutional the Trump administration’s Executive Order 13771. The order requires agencies to identify at least two existing rules to repeal for every new one they seek to issue and to ensure that the money companies would ...

Ahead of Markup, CPR Member Scholars Voice Concerns over the Senate Regulatory Accountability Act

by James Goodwin | May 16, 2017
Today, 27 Member Scholars of the Center for Progressive Reform, leading academics who specialize in administrative law and regulatory policy, submitted a letter to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill outlining their serious concerns with the Senate Regulatory Accountability Act. That bill is among several aimed at undermining our system of regulatory safeguards that are set to be marked up by the committee at its business meeting on Wednesday. Others set ...

Anything but Moderate: The Senate Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017

by James Goodwin | May 02, 2017
Today, Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholars and staff are releasing a comprehensive analysis of the Senate Regulatory Accountability of 2017 (S. 951), which Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced last week. Our analysis explains how S. 951 would drastically overhaul the Administrative Procedure Act, which has successfully guided agency enforcement of public safeguards for over 70 years. A summary of the key findings of the analysis is also available.  The bill is the latest legislation to ...

New CPR Project - CRA by the Numbers: The Congressional Review Act Assault on Our Safeguards

by James Goodwin | April 25, 2017
If Donald Trump has learned anything over the last 100 days, it's that unlike in golf, you can't call a Mulligan on the beginning of your presidency, no matter how much it might improve your score.  These last few months have been long on scandals and failure (Russian probes, the spectacular implosion of Trumpcare, etc.) and short on policy accomplishments, particularly in the legislative realm. This sad state of affairs has left Trump's PR team looking to inject some positive ...

New Report: Trump's New 'Regulatory Czar' and the Continuing Assault on Our Safeguards

by James Goodwin | April 20, 2017
As the clock ticked closer to the end of the work day a few Fridays back, the Trump administration quietly made an announcement certain to put smiles on the faces of many corporate interest lobbyists in and around the DC Beltway: Neomi Rao, a little known but very conservative law professor at George Mason University's Scalia Law School, would be the nominee for Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The announcement probably went unnoticed ...

The Key Ingredient in Trump's Anti-Reg Two-for-One Executive Order? Fuzzy Math

by James Goodwin | April 12, 2017
Steve Bannon's crusade to deconstruct the administrative state took two big steps forward last week, concluding with Donald Trump nominating George Mason University Law School professor Neomi Rao as his "regulatory czar." CPR will publish a new report on the role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator during the Trump administration in the days to come, but for now, I want to focus on the first big development: Acting Administrator Dominic Mancini's new memo providing agencies ...

Recent Trump Anti-Reg Order Could Breathe New Life into Dangerous Old Law

by James Goodwin | March 03, 2017
The first rule of reading anti-regulatory bills, executive orders, and other policy prescriptions is: Sweat the hyper-technical, anodyne-sounding stuff. And President Donald Trump's February 24 executive order on "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda" demonstrates why this rule exists.  One of the order's provisions – which no doubt caused glaze to form over many an eye – read: "[E]ach Regulatory Reform Task Force shall attempt to identify regulations that . . . are inconsistent with the requirements of section 515 of ...

Also from James Goodwin

James Goodwin, J.D., M.P.P., is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Center for Progressive Reform. He joined CPR in May of 2008.

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