June 14, 2017 by David Flores

As Waters Rise, Trump Wants to Cut Coastal Protection Efforts Off at the Knees

On Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will appear before a House Appropriations subcommittee to explain how he plans to square the Trump administration's proposed 31-percent cut to EPA's budget with its statutory obligations to protect the environment. Spoiler alert: There's no plan. The proposition – implementing and enforcing safeguards related to water, air, and hazardous materials while cutting a quarter of the agency's workforce – is preposterous. 

Some House members are likely to press Pruitt on a signature issue, his disingenuous climate denialism and transparent effort to maximize profits for coal, oil, and gas producers at the expense of the environment and public health. Minimizing climate change and mitigating its effects won't come cheaply at this point, but it would be far less costly than the potential future costs of climate disaster. Just last week, researchers at Princeton and Rutgers projected a median 40-fold increase in coastal flooding events in the 100-year flood zone by 2050. This includes areas like Seattle, Charleston, Washington DC, and Trump's beloved Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. 

So if Trump and Pruitt have their way, stalling efforts to slow greenhouse gas emissions, what then will this administration do to …

June 13, 2017 by Matt Shudtz

To call the timing coincidental doesn't give House Republicans enough credit. Tomorrow, while the fallout from Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony about his connections to Russia dominates most Capitol Hill news coverage, the House will vote on H.R. 1215, a bill designed to strip injured patients of their day in court. Last week, the same legislators voted to undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the cover of James Comey's testimony about President Trump's ham-fisted attempts to interfere in the FBI's Russia investigations.

Russia is not the story here. A foreign government's interference in our elections is certainly a scintillating and important topic, but in the time it takes our many investigators to sort it all out, patients and consumers in the U.S. stand to lose protections just as fundamental to our self-determination as a secure, trustworthy voting system that …

June 12, 2017 by Matt Shudtz

Susan Bodine, an attorney with significant experience on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is President Trump's nominee to lead the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) at the agency. She is likely to get a friendly audience tomorrow when she appears before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to answer questions about the future of OECA. After all, she's worked closely with everyone on the panel, and there remain some aspects of federal policymaking that still proceed in a ceremonious fashion, even in Trump's America.

But were it not for a scheduling overlap with Attorney General Jeff Sessions' much anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, citizens and communities around the country might have focused more attention on Bodine's hearing. Her future office is where the rubber hits the road regarding the environmental and public …

June 8, 2017 by Carl Cranor

This op-ed originally ran in the Los Angeles Times.

Miners carried canaries into coal mines; if the canary died, it was an early warning of the presence of toxic gases that could also asphyxiate humans or explode. The Trump administration has decided to use children and farmworkers as 21st century canaries, continuing their exposure to a pesticide named chlorpyrifos that has been linked to serious health concerns.

The toxicity of this commonly used pesticide was demonstrated in early May when chlorpyrifos sprayed on a Bakersfield orchard drifted into a neighboring cabbage field, sickening a dozen farmworkers. One was hospitalized.

This is the same chemical that Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, refused to ban in March, despite the advice of EPA scientists.

In November 2016, EPA scientists reported that residues of chlorpyrifos on food crops exceed the federal safety standards for pesticides. Their …

June 7, 2017 by David Flores

President Trump's historic retreat from the Paris climate accord last week is just the latest installment in the story of how his administration's anti-science and anti-protections policies with respect to climate change could do grave harm to many aspects of American life. His proposed budget is likely to be the next chapter. 

While Trump sees the issue through coal-colored lenses, it's clear to anyone paying attention to actual science that that the impacts of climate change have and will continue to cause serious problems for the nation's agricultural sector. Climate and agricultural scientists are observing and projecting worsening drought, more intense rainfall, more and worsening heatwaves, and shifting populations of invasive species and agricultural pests. The result for farmers will be smaller crop yields and higher operating costs. 

Many of these changes have already been documented. For example, the multi-year California drought was …

June 6, 2017 by Robert Verchick

Tomorrow, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will examine and likely vote on President's Trump's selection for Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). OIRA is the most important government office most Americans have never heard of. It is the depot through which all regulatory freight must pass, the place where ideas go to be sorted, weighed, green-lighted, or buried. It's the ganglia of the president's bureaucratic brain. At the center of those fluttering gray cells, if Trump gets his way, will be Neomi Rao.

Rao comes to the position with scant management experience and little in the way of a record. But as a professor at George Mason's Antonin Scalia Law School, she has managed to raise serious questions about how she would evaluate the health and environmental protections we all rely on.

Following Rao …

June 1, 2017 by James Goodwin

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 broad aspirational goals, members of Congress avoid the politically fraught task of actually specifying the changes required to achieve their goals. Nonetheless, legislators still get credit from voters for taking this highly visible, if not particularly bold, action. That is Win Number 1.

Later, it is not Congress, but the federal agencies that end up bearing the brunt of outrage when they …

June 1, 2017 by

The President’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement is a tragedy born of his failure to appreciate the vital importance of U.S. leadership in the world. It’s particularly regrettable coming as it does on the heels of his performance in Europe last week, during which his refusal to embrace the fundamental underpinnings of NATO rocked the alliance.

By abandoning the Paris Agreement, Trump continues on a reckless path of pretending that the dire threat posed by climate change is no more lasting than a tweet. It’s one thing to campaign on a know-nothing platform on climate change that denies scientific reality, and another altogether to govern that way. If ever there was a moment for Donald Trump to listen to the consensus of scientists and 195 parties to the Paris Agreement, this was it, and he failed.

When George …

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