Seven Bright Spots of 2018

by Daniel Farber | December 31, 2018

A version of this post was originally published on Legal Planet.

Yes, it was a grim year in many ways. But there actually were some bright spots. Here are just the high points.

  1. Scott Pruitt. Pruitt resigned under fire. While his successor may be more successful in some ways, the fact remains that Pruitt was a disgrace. We're better off without him. Trump was apparently unfazed by his incompetence and aversion to hard work. But the succession of scandals and investigations – about personal travel at government expense, extravagance, the top-secret phone booth in his office, and so on and so on – eventually got to be too much of a distraction that threatened to undermine Trump's own monopoly on the spotlight.
     
  2. Ryan Zinke. Yet another bad apple who was forced out. His acting replacement is equally wrong-headed and more competent but has multiple conflicts of interest that require him to recuse himself from many disputes. Which is probably a good thing.
     
  3. Judicial rulings. The Trump administration continued to have a terrible record in court on environmental issues. According to Brookings, the administration's record is now one in eighteen. Apart from losing litigation over its efforts to postpone Obama-era rules without obeying the proper procedures, the administration also lost a couple of efforts to defend Obama-era efforts, resulting in mandates that it take regulatory action.
     
  4. States. As I blogged ...

Top Ten Regulatory Policy Stories to Look Out for in 2019 (IMHO)

by James Goodwin | December 31, 2018
As I documented in my most recent post, 2018 was an active year for regulatory policy, bringing several notable controversies, milestones, and developments. For those who follow this area, 2019 promises to be just as lively and momentous. Indeed, it appears that the dynamics that spurred much of the regulatory policy-related action in 2018 – namely, the high priority that the Trump administration has placed on corrupting our system of regulatory safeguards, and the accompanying political polarization around the issue ...

CPR's 2018 Op-Eds

by Matthew Freeman | December 27, 2018
As we prepare to tie a bow on 2018, it’s worth looking back at the various op-eds CPR’s Member Scholars and staff penned over the course of the year. You can find and read every single one of them on our op-ed page. But here are some highlights for quick(er) perusal: In February, CPR’s Founding President, Tom McGarity had a piece in The American Prospect, reviewing the damage done by the GOP congressional majority by means of the Congressional Review ...

2019 Wish List for Workers’ Health and Safety

by Katie Tracy | December 26, 2018
As 2018 ends and we take stock of the developments in workers’ rights over the first half of the Trump administration, there is little forward progress to report. This administration, acting with minimal to no congressional oversight, has consistently neglected to protect America’s workers, instead rolling back and delaying numerous Obama-era regulations and safeguards, ignoring emerging hazards from climate change and new technologies, and restricting traditional inspection and enforcement in favor of self-reporting and compliance assistance.  Instead of focusing on ...

Top Ten Regulatory Policy Stories of 2018 (IMHO)

by James Goodwin | December 20, 2018
While regulatory policy developments might not lead evening news broadcasts or dominate newspaper headlines, they can have an enormous impact on our day-to-day lives. Regulatory policy has been a particular hotbed of activity during the Trump administration, which swept into office determined to undermine or corrupt the institutions responsible for keeping Americans and their environment secure against unacceptable risks of harm. So, it is no surprise that 2018 was another busy year in regulatory policy. Here are 10 of the ...

Planning for the Public Health Effects of Climate Migration

by Maxine A Burkett | December 17, 2018
This post was originally published by the Wilson Center's New Security Beat. In Alaska's arctic communities, Inuit contemplating the need to relocate have reported that the loss of sea ice would make them feel like they are lost or going crazy. Zika and other vector-borne diseases have been a concern primarily for people in the southeastern United States. Recent research on the long-range internal migration of people from the coasts to the interior suggests a broader national concern regarding "climate ...

By Fixing Congress, the Planned H.R. 1 Could Strengthen Public Protections, Too

by James Goodwin | December 13, 2018
Not long after their party regained control of the lower chamber in the midterm elections, House Democratic leaders unveiled their signature legislative action for the next Congress – a package of reform measures aimed at tackling some of the worst ethics abuses involving the Trump administration's top officials and members of Congress. Symbolically assigned the designation of H.R. 1 to underscore its status as the top legislative priority, the bill would do more than just restore the integrity of our ...

Chesapeake Bay Year in Review: A Beneath-the-Headlines Look at Some of the Biggest Restoration and Clean-up Issues

by Evan Isaacson | December 12, 2018
It's that point in the year when we take a step back and reflect on the past 12 months. This was a big year for those concerned about restoring the Chesapeake Bay, with plenty of feel-good stories about various species and ecosystems rebounding more quickly than expected. There were also more than a few headlines about record-setting rainfalls washing trash down the rivers, over dams, and coating the Bay's shores. But I am going to look beneath the headlines at ...

The New WOTUS Proposed Rule and the Myths of Clean Water Act Federalism

by Dave Owen | December 11, 2018
Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog. This morning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA released a proposed new rule that would change the agencies' shared definition of "waters of the United States." That phrase defines the geographic scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.  The proposed rule would narrow the scope of federal jurisdiction, primarily in two ways.  First, it would eliminate jurisdiction for "ephemeral" streams – that is, streams where water flows only during ...

Two Years and Counting: Looking Forward

by Daniel Farber | December 10, 2018
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. In terms of regulatory policy, the second half of Trump's term is shaping up to look a lot like Obama's final two years in office. Congress won't be doing much to advance Trump's environment and energy agenda, as was the case with Obama. So, like Obama, Trump's focus will be on administrative action, particularly regulatory initiatives (or deregulatory ones, in Trump's case). The big question is how these efforts will fare in court. I want to ...

Two Years and Counting: A Historical Perspective

by Daniel Farber | December 06, 2018
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. This is the second of three posts assessing the first two years of the Trump administration. You can read the first post here. We all seem to be subscribed to the "All Trump News, All the Time" newsfeed. It may be helpful to step back a bit and compare Trump with his last Republican predecessor, George W. Bush. How do the two stack up? Bush and Trump were very different in character and style, but their ...

Two Years and Counting: Trump at Mid-Term

by Daniel Farber | December 03, 2018
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. In September 2017 – that seems so long ago! – Eric Biber and I released a report assessing the state of play in environmental issues 200 days into the Trump administration, based on an earlier series of blog posts. As we end Trump's second year, it's time to bring that assessment up to date. This is the first of three posts examining what Trump has done (and hasn't done) in terms of environment and energy. For ...

Opinion Analysis: Frogs and Humans Live to Fight Another Day

by Lisa Heinzerling | November 30, 2018
This post was originally published on SCOTUSblog. It is republished here under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US). In a mixed-bag ruling, a unanimous Supreme Court returned Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to decide several questions not answered on the first go-round. Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion for the court appears calculated to decide just enough to justify shipping the case back to the lower court. ...

Legal Scholars File Brief Supporting National Monuments Case against Trump

by Sarah Krakoff | November 26, 2018
In 2017, President Trump signed a proclamation reducing by about 85 percent the size of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, a large landscape of pristine red rock canyons and culturally and historically significant Native American sites. He claimed that he had the authority to shrink this and any other national monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and had previously ordered the Department of the Interior to review additional monuments whose designations stretch back decades. But does federal law really ...

Federalism 'Collisions' in Energy Policy

by Alexandra Klass | November 20, 2018
Originally published in The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission. Like many areas of law, energy policy in the United States is both national and local. The boundary lines delineating federal and state authority are not always clear, leading to tension and disagreement between federal and state authorities. When tensions get too high, Congress can, and often has, stepped in to override state control in order to promote national interests. But when Congress faces partisan gridlock, an increasing number of disputes are ...

Message for State Climate Policy: Lead with a Vision, Not a Tax

by Alice Kaswan | November 19, 2018
Washington State has continued to try – unsuccessfully – to pass a carbon tax, with the latest effort, Initiative 1631, losing on November 6. The state's effort to control carbon is laudable, but Washington and other states contemplating how to fill the growing federal climate policy void should consider leading with a vision for a clean energy transition rather than a politically challenging "price." An overarching vision for a low-carbon future and a public decision-making process for achieving that future ...

Farm Bill 2018 -- Where Are We Going Post-Midterms?

by Laurie Ristino | November 16, 2018
The midterm elections are over, and most of the races have been decided. The outcome will have consequences for a wide variety of policies and legislation, including the 2018 Farm Bill. So what's the status of the bill? What are its prospects for passage during what remains of the 115th Congress? And how will the current and near-future political landscape impact the legislation's conservation provisions? To answer these questions and more, I moderated a recent Center for Progressive Reform webinar ...

Designing Law to Prevent Runaway Climate Change

by Melissa Powers | November 15, 2018
This post is part of a series of essays from the Environmental Law Collaborative on the theme "Environmental Law. Disrupted." It was originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog. "Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets." If that's so, our climate and energy laws have been perfectly designed to fall short. They will not avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change or enable a swift transition to a zero-carbon energy system because they have not been ...
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