pfja-main-banner.png
Dec. 8, 2020 by Laurie Ristino

Democracy Is Fragile. Help Us Protect It.

Editor’s note: This post is part of the Center for Progressive Reform’s Policy for a Just America initiative. Learn more on CPR's website.

At long last, we’ve reached “safe harbor” day, when states must resolve election-related disputes. Under federal law, Congress must count votes from states that meet today’s deadline. Donald Trump is essentially out of time to steal a second term; our democracy, it appears, will survive, at least for now.

Like many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about the election — and what Trump’s relentless efforts to undermine it mean for our country. I’ve been thinking about the last one, too, when Trump took the helm of our country after a campaign of lies and hate — even though he received nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent.

I’ve been reflecting on other moments when our democracy seemed in peril, historic events locked in time and place because they define time and place. These “flashbulb memories” remind me that democracy is not as secure as I wish it were.

In March of 1981, I was training with my high school track team. The weather was stormy, so, our coach …

Dec. 7, 2020 by Bill Funk
ChesBaySunset_wide.jpg

This post was originally published by the Yale Journal on Regulation's Notice & Comment blog. Reprinted with permission.

Every President since Jimmy Carter has called on agencies to make retrospective reviews of their regulations. President Clinton’s Executive Order 12866 required agencies to create a program of periodic review of existing significant regulations. More recently both Presidents Obama in E.O. 13563 and Trump in E.O. 13771 likewise have required agencies to engage in retrospective reviews. Numerous commentators, not the least of which is Professor and former OIRA director Cass Sunstein, have extolled the potential value of retrospective reviews. And the Administrative Conference of the United States has issued recommendations providing support for agencies to review their existing regulations. Indeed, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires agencies to make a retrospective review of 10-year-old regulations that “have a significant economic impact upon a substantial number …

Nov. 20, 2020 by Daniel Farber
climate-march.jpg

This post was originally published on Legal Planet. Reprinted with permission.

Without a Democratic majority in the Senate, President Biden will have to rely on administrative action to do the heavy lifting. It's clear that EPA has a central role to play in climate policy, but EPA does not stand alone. Other agencies also have important roles to play. Fortunately, the Biden transition team seems to have come to this realization.

A multi-agency approach is especially important because bold actions by EPA will face a skeptical audience in the 6-3 conservative Supreme Court. Thus, a diverse portfolio with many different actions from many agencies is prudent. Moreover, EPA is much more in the political spotlight, so any bold action on its part is sure to be met with a political firestorm. Other agencies may fly more under the radar.

The final reason for multi-agency action is that …

Nov. 18, 2020 by James Goodwin, Amy Sinden
environmental-justice-clean-water-flickr-cc.jpg

After taking their oaths of office in January, newly minted President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will face a number of daunting challenges: the ongoing pandemic and economic downturn; structural racial and ethnic injustice; widening economic inequality; inadequate access to affordable health care; and climate change. And Congress, facing the prospect of divided control, is unlikely to respond with robust legislative solutions that the American people expect and deserve.

The good news is that Biden and Harris will be able to meet these challenges head on by revitalizing governance and making effective use of the federal regulatory system. Better still, they can do so in a way that delivers justice and equity for all Americans.

Using the regulatory system as a policy tool is not easy under ideal circumstances, let alone during difficult times like these. For the last four years, the Trump administration has …

Nov. 4, 2020 by Laurie Ristino
voting-01-wide.jpg

American democracy, if it is to mean anything, demands that all eligible voters get to exercise their right to vote and that their votes actually be counted. We have watched with alarm as the former principle has come under unilateral attack from one political party for self-serving reasons in recent weeks. We are outraged to see the president attack the latter.

CPR is committed to meaningful public participation in all of America’s democratic institutions. We believe such participation is essential for ensuring more just and effective policies, but also for imbuing those policies with legitimacy and public confidence. Public participation is critical to empowering all Americans to have their say in our centuries-long project of forming a more perfect union.

As of early this afternoon, the presidential election is still undecided. Millions of votes in states that will ultimately determine the outcome remain uncounted. We join …

Nov. 4, 2020 by David Flores
cpr-roanoke-climate-strike-wide.jpg

The Virginia General Assembly has wrapped a special legislative session to reform the Commonwealth’s budget. The story Virginians often hear is that lawmakers were busy pursuing social justice, spurred on by COVID-driven economic hardships and a historic demand for reforms. However, this story belies the fact that the Assembly failed to pass the meaningful social justice reforms called for by working-class Virginians, while giving away half a billion dollars in customer overcharges to Dominion Energy’s shareholders.

With the climate and COVID crises at the fore, state and local environmental regulation and decision-making has taken on greater weight. As CPR Policy Analyst Katlyn Schmitt points out in a new paper, there is still some low-hanging fruit to be picked before Virginians can be equitably served by and participate in the Commonwealth’s environmental decision-making process.

For one, public notice and comment procedures for proposed environmental rules …

Oct. 30, 2020 by Matthew Freeman
Forest_Trail_wide.jpg

Seventeen years ago, I had lunch at a suburban diner with Rena Steinzor, then a stranger to me, now an old friend. She'd found me through a colleague at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who'd suggested to her that I might be able to work with her and the other founding members of what was then the Center for Progressive Regulation as they sought to add some media know-how to their fledgling organization. If you've ever met Rena, you might know that her full-court press is second only to LBJ's. I took the gig, coming on board as a consultant, and have been here ever since.

Today, I take my leave after 17 terrific years. During that time, the organization has grown to be a true player on the issues we care about, producing smart, hard-hitting, idea-rich reports that create powerful intellectual ammunition for the progressive …

Oct. 29, 2020 by James Goodwin
RegPolicyCollage_wide.JPG

This week, I’m posting a new web article documenting the arbitrariness and subjectivity that cost-benefit analysis injects into regulatory decision-making, the latest installment in CPR’s Beyond 12866 initiative. Specifically, the piece explains how cost-benefit analysis deploys a wide variety of methodological techniques that can be clumsy, unscientific, ethically dubious, and, too often, downright absurd. As a result, the “information” that cost-benefit analysis generates is so lacking in credibility and rigor that it is arguably worse than useless. In many cases, agency decision-makers would be better off if the analysis had never been performed at all.

It is particularly important to understand the inescapable subjectivity and irrationality of cost-benefit analysis, since defenders of the methodology like to claim that it is necessary to ensure that objectivity and rationality guide regulatory decision-making. The web article offers several recent case studies unequivocally demonstrating how cost-benefit analysis consistently fails …

Oct. 28, 2020 by Darya Minovi
toxic-warning-sign.jpg

If you want to know what the world will look like as the climate crisis ramps up, you don't need a crystal ball. In fact, you need look no further than the past few months of 2020. Western states are fighting record-breaking wildfires, major flooding has plagued the Midwest, and we are in the midst of a historic hurricane season. This year marked the second time in history that the National Hurricane Center ran out of “human names” for tropical storms. They are now using the Greek alphabet, with Hurricane Zeta currently on its way to the Gulf Coast.

On October 20, CPR convened a group of researchers, advocates, and community organizers to discuss how the increasing frequency of extreme weather may impact coastal communities, especially those near hazardous industrial facilities vulnerable to damage. In the event of a power outage or flood, for example, these facilities …

Oct. 22, 2020 by Katlyn Schmitt
ches-bay-home_wide.jpg

Earlier this month, Congress overwhelmingly passed America's Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE). The legislation's dozen-plus conservation initiatives include reauthorizations for important programs that help protect the Chesapeake Bay and wetlands across the country.

Among other provisions, the legislative package authorizes $92 million in annual funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program through 2025, a $7 million annual increase. The program provides funding for states, local governments, and other partners to take measures that improve Bay water quality, and it also helps coordinate restoration efforts in the watershed. While Congress has appropriated funds to the program every year since it was created in 1987, its authorization expired in 2005. This reauthorization and increase in funding are a good sign for the future of Bay cleanup efforts, provided, of course, that Congress follows through with appropriations at the authorized level.

ACE also established a …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Jan. 19, 2021

Rethinking Presidential Administration

Jan. 14, 2021

CPR Welcomes New Executive Director Minor Sinclair

Jan. 13, 2021

Next Steps to Save the Global Environment

Jan. 12, 2021

Study Finds Significant Flaws with Trump Waters of the United States Rule, Provides Legal Support for Biden Replacement

Jan. 11, 2021

The Hill Op-ed -- From Rhetoric to Reality: Achieving Climate Justice

Jan. 8, 2021

Andrew Wheeler's Trojan Horse for Clean Air Act Regulation

Jan. 7, 2021

Incoming Biden Administration Should Repeal Harmful EPA Censored Science Rule