Sept. 21, 2011 by Rena Steinzor

Landry Calls Civil Servants the 'Gestapo.' Who Should Apologize?

In a dispiriting reminder that the more things change, the more they remain the same, Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) plucked a page from former Rep. Tom Delay’s playbook, denouncing federal civil servants as “the Gestapo” because when he popped into a local office unannounced and without an appointment last week, staff kept him waiting for 20 minutes. When federal deepwater drilling permit chief Michael Bromwich objected to Landry’s appalling rhetoric, the Representative doubled down on idiotic and demanded that Bromwich apologize. Both Landry’s campaign and his congressional websites featured his pugnacious reiteration of the comment when checked immediately before this blog was posted.

First things first. I am a Jew. The extended family on my maternal grandmother’s side was wiped out by the Nazis. I had a typical upbringing for those born within a couple of decades of the Holocaust: the horror was deeply embedded in our memory and our emotional framework. I think most any Jew of our age—actually, of any age—cringes and feels like someone has walked over her ancestors’ graves when any person in public life bandies words like Gestapo and Nazi about. Louisiana most certainly has a Jewish population, and …

Sept. 20, 2011 by Peter Jenkins

Guest blogger Peter T. Jenkins is a lawyer and consultant working with the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS), committed to preventing further harm from invasive, non-native plants and animals. He is Executive Director of the Center for Invasive Species Prevention (CISP).

If the federal government cannot regulate huge constrictor snakes that have already invaded twice in Florida, are preying on Endangered Species Act-listed species, can readily invade in other States and have killed more than a dozen people in recent decades, then what can it regulate? This all came to a head in Congress last week.

On Tuesday of last week, the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species learned from a friendly Capitol Hill source that the following day the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, under Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), was going to highlight this issue of regulating invasive snakes as part of …

Sept. 19, 2011 by Rena Steinzor

I regret to report that CPR is losing its outstanding executive director, Shana Jones.  Shana’s tenure has produced a true CPR success story, when the organization stabilized on the funding front and its staff began steady growth.  When Shana joined us, CPR staff was half its current size.  In great measure because of her steady hand at the tiller, we’ve developed in almost every significant way since then. Our budget and staff are bigger, our profile is higher, our mission is better defined, and, if you’ll pardon the hint of immodesty, we think we’ve made a difference on some important policy issues during her tenure. We’ll miss Shana when she leaves us early next year.

In the meantime, we’re in search of a similarly energetic and accomplished executive director. The job description is here. We encourage readers of CPRBlog to circulate …

Sept. 14, 2011 by David Driesen

Cross-posted from RegBlog.

As Stuart Shapiro recently pointed out in a RegBlog post, President Obama himself made the decision a week ago to withdraw the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). Presidents have occasionally acted to resolve disputes between the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and EPA before, but typically OIRA acts in the President’s name without knowing exactly what he thinks about the regulatory details that OIRA negotiates with EPA. Stuart Shapiro also correctly points out that the President’s substitution of his general policy judgment for a judgment of an agency charged by Congress with the responsibility to implement a statute’s policy has implications for administrative law.

Obama’s withdrawal of the ozone NAAQS shows why these implications should trouble everybody, even those who do not like the Clean Air …

Sept. 13, 2011 by Ben Somberg

Senator Susan Collins announced last week the “Regulatory Time-Out Act” (S. 1538), which would put a one-year moratorium on most “economically significant” regulations. On Monday, she said she had 16 other Senators on board – all Republicans. So while I’m not under any illusion this is going anywhere, one point jumped out at me for discussion.

One of Senator Collins’ top targets in the past year has been the boiler MACT rule, which would require certain facilities to reduce their emissions of mercury, soot, lead and other pollutants that harm our health. At first glance, it appears this bill would serve to delay the boiler MACT rule even further than it already has been. (How a 12-month delay, starting presumably sometime during the current 10-month delay, adds up to being the exact right fix is anyone’s guess, and it’s also not clear how this would …

Sept. 12, 2011 by Daniel Farber

Cross-posted from Legal Planet.

A current conservative refrain is the regulatory uncertainty is holding back the economy.  Consider an editorial entitled “Obama’s regulatory flood is drowning economic growth”:

Businesses large and small face more uncertainty today about the federal regulatory environment than at any point since the New Deal . . . . Seeing this tsunami of red tape flooding out of Washington, company owners and executives wisely opt to delay new hires and investments until they have a clearer idea how much their already huge compliance costs will increase and how the markets will be warped by changes mandated by the bureaucrats.

Of course, it sounds better to talk about “regulatory uncertainty” than just to say that businesses hate the idea that they’ll have to cut pollution or give more information to consumers.  In any event, there’s so much wrong with the “uncertainty” argument that it’s …

Sept. 8, 2011 by Lena Pons

In May 2010, EPA sent a draft “Chemicals of Concern” list, including bisphenol A (BPA) and five other chemicals, to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review. The proposed list would be the first time EPA has used its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to publish such a list of chemicals that “may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.” Today marks one year since OIRA exceeded the 120-day deadline for completing its review of EPA’s proposed chemicals of concern list.

The proposed list has met with fierce industry resistance, even though being added to the list only requires some minor additional reporting requirements.  Between Jun. 2010 and Jan. 2011, OIRA hosted eight meetings to discuss the proposed list. Of those meetings, seven were with industry groups and trade associations including ExxonMobil, Dow …

Sept. 8, 2011 by Rena Steinzor

From what we hear, EPA is not a happy place these days, and we don’t wonder why. Never did a hard-pressed staff deserve so much guff, less. Politico reported that the White House is treating Lisa Jackson with kid gloves, hoping against hope that she won’t up and quit on them over the outrageous White House trashing of the efforts to update an outmoded, unhealthy, and legally indefensible 1997 ozone standard. Good thinking for a change. With the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sending e-mails to 1.3 million members and online activists declaring that the White House “threw you overboard,” it’s way past time for the President, his Chief of Staff, and regulatory czar Cass Sunstein to remember they are Democrats, not soldiers in the Boehner army.

Obviously, no one knows what Jackson will do and the decision is both a personal and …

Sept. 6, 2011 by Thomas McGarity

Last Friday, President Obama ordered EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw EPA’s new ambient air quality standard for ground level ozone (smog). The order came in a letter from Cass Sunstein, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget. 

The order does not pretend to be based on science. Indeed, it flies in the face of the available science on the human health effects of ozone as determined on at least two occasions by EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). The White House acknowledges – even touts – that the order is based on economic considerations (President Obama wrote in a statement Friday that “I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that …

Sept. 2, 2011 by Victor Flatt

Today’s decision of the Obama administration to withdraw new ozone rules is not only bad policy, it is also illegal. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to revisit its National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) every five years to ensure that they are adequate to protect the public health and safety. In 2006, the Bush Administration revisited the rules as required, but proposed a new standard of .75 P.P.M., which was far above the unanimous recommendations of the scientists who said somewhere between .60 and .70 P.P.M. was necessary to protect the public health. A lawsuit followed, and in response the Obama administration re-opened the rulemaking. This delayed a legal decision which most assuredly would have over-turned the 2008 final rules.

The Obama EPA proposed the more rigorous standards that could be supported by the science of 2006. In truth, new …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Sept. 29, 2011

Auto Dealers Group Wrong About How EPA Considers Costs in Vehicle Efficiency Standards

Sept. 28, 2011

API's Request for Delay on Greenhouse Gas Reg is a True Pitch in the Dirt

Sept. 27, 2011

Looking Back at the Ozone Retreat: A Step Back for the Obama Administration on Science Integrity

Sept. 27, 2011

Top Regulatory Opponents Tout Story Claiming EPA Wants to Make 230,000 New Hires; Turns Out Agency Was Arguing Specifically Against It

Sept. 26, 2011

Robert Adler Op-ed in Salt Lake Tribune Points to Utahn's Desires for Clean Environment and Healthy Economy

Sept. 26, 2011

Big Win for Children's Health in Second Circuit Risk Assessment Decision

Sept. 23, 2011

The Regulatory Accountability Act: Putting the Screws to Health, Safety and Environmental Regulation