March 6, 2017 by Matthew Freeman

Catching Up on CPR's Recent Op-Edery

Unless you regularly read newspapers from markets ranging from Baltimore to Houston to the San Francisco Bay area, chances are that you missed some of the op-eds that CPR’s scholars and staff published in the nation’s newspapers in February. We post links on our website, of course; you can find them on the various issue pages, as well as on our op-eds page. But we thought CPRBlog readers might appreciate a quick rundown from last month, so here goes:

  • In a February 2 piece in the Houston Chronicle, CPR’s Tom McGarity warned about the dangers of the Regulatory Accountability Act, which had recently zipped through the House of Representatives. He wrote, “The proponents of the bill insist that it will improve federal regulation, but the real purpose and effect of the bill is to stall the overall process­ making it harder for federal agencies to adopt rules that prevent companies from harming their workers, their customers and their neighbors.”  
  • Two days later, McGarity was in the Waco Tribune, writing about the House GOP’s pending use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to undo a regulation adopted in the wake of the West, Texas, chemical explosion that …

March 6, 2017 by Dave Owen

Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog by CPR Member Scholar Dave Owen.

Last Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order directing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on a new rule defining the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The rule, if and when it is finalized, would replace the "Clean Water Rule" released by EPA and the Corps during the summer of 2015. Much of the political rhetoric surrounding the Clean Water Rule has suggested that the 2015 rule was responsible for massive economic impacts and that removing it will be a source of economic relief. President Trump's own remarks, for example, were riddled with such complaints. But for several years, I've been researching the implementation of federal stream and wetland protections (the results of those inquiries appear in just-published articles here and here and in an earlier …

March 3, 2017 by James Goodwin

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: "Each Regulatory Reform Task Force shall attempt to identify regulations that . . . are inconsistent with the requirements of section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2001 (44 U.S.C. 3516 note)." I know my eyes glazed over the first time I read it. But it's worth a careful look at what that obscure legal citation refers to and what its inclusion could mean for existing regulatory safeguards. 

First things first, though. Trump's February 24 order – in a depressingly hilarious twist of irony – sets out to …

March 2, 2017 by Lesley McAllister

Originally published on Environmental Law Prof Blog by CPR Member Scholar Lesley McAllister.

Did you know that as of July 2016, we have a new federal law mandating that genetically engineered food be labeled? It is true – see 7 U.S.C. § 1639(b)(2)(D) (Jul. 29, 2016). So when, you might ask, will you be able to know which of all those foods we buy at the grocery store are produced with GMOs?

It could be a very long wait. For one thing, the law – the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard – didn't actually mandate a label that directly states that the food is a GE food. Rather, Congress left open the possibility that USDA allow scannable QR codes instead of on-package labeling as the means of disclosure. Congress charged the USDA with completing a study within one year (i.e. by July 2017) regarding …

March 2, 2017 by Robert Glicksman

In his first speech upon assuming his duties as EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt informed the agency's employees that "regulators exist to give certainty to those that they regulate." No, Mr. Pruitt, they do not. Regulators and the regulations they are responsible for adopting and enforcing exist to protect the public interest. In particular, they exist to correct market failures, such as the refusal of polluting industries to internalize the costs of the harm they do to public health and the environment. 

Of course, well-constructed regulations will also create certainty, and regulated entities typically prefer such certainty so they are able to understand their responsibilities and plan for compliance. Sometimes, they are even willing to support tougher regulations (especially if there is only one set to worry about) instead of having to accommodate multiple sets of rules. 

Regulations can even benefit the regulated community in many ways …

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