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July 31, 2017 by Jarryd Page

Does Species Triage Make Sense for the Fish and Wildlife Service?

This post is the first of a pair focused on the challenges facing the Endangered Species Act and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 21st century. You can read the second post here.

Imagine yourself in a sinking ship. The water is rising quickly. Around you are 20 unique, precious artifacts, among the last of their kind to exist on Earth. You only have the capacity to rescue 10 pounds of these objects – if you try to take on more weight, you'll all go down. The problem is, one object alone weighs 10 pounds, while the other 19 amount to a total of 10 pounds. Do you save the big, beautiful, and majestic 10-pounder? Or do you scoop up the other 19, leaving the single large item to fall into the abyss, never to be seen again? 

Now, imagine the pounds are dollars and the artifacts are endangered species. Essentially, this is the problem facing species under threat of extinction hoping to be thrown a life raft that is Endangered Species Act (ESA) funding. With meager resources and a list of species beyond our ability to save, decision-makers are constantly faced with the difficult decision of …

July 31, 2017 by Jarryd Page
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This post is the second of a pair focused on the challenges facing the Endangered Species Act and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 21st century. You can read the first post here. 

In drafting the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA), Congress gave explicit attention and priority, and therefore funding, to individual species. Rather than approaching species conservation through a more holistic consideration of a species' importance within its ecological community, giving broader attention to biodiversity, or looking to the ability of a species to provide ecosystem services, this decision has had the effect of a creating a gap between politics and ecology. Critics of the ESA who argue the law does not go far enough have long advocated for these more comprehensive approaches. 

To date, scientists have bolstered recommendations for species conservation based in part on biodiversity and ecosystem effects. However, these have …

July 27, 2017 by David Flores
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Late last week, we shared our first take on how the Trump administration's 2017 deregulatory agenda threatens to knock the wheels off of agency efforts to protect workers, consumers, and vulnerable populations – like children and homeless families – from air pollution, flooding, and explosions in the workplace, among other hazards. After some additional research, we have also found that the administration's agenda takes aim at safeguards for victims of disasters, such as communities that face the threat of displacement or relocation caused by climate change, and at programs that enhance community resilience in the rural areas that President Trump counts among his base of support. 

Several federal agencies – including the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture, and the Interior, to name a few – play a crucial role in implementing federal climate adaptation policies. Yet, across the board at all of these agencies, their regulatory …

July 26, 2017 by Hannah Wiseman
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President Trump's first Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, released last week, aims to cut regulations across the board, but the broad swath of energy programs and regulations under the ax is particularly notable. The U.S. energy sector, finally catching up with the rest of the world, has modernized by leaps and bounds in recent years with the help of limited but targeted governmental support. But Trump's agenda would bring this all to an abrupt halt and send us skidding back into the dark ages of energy.

First, the agenda would cut the bulk of pending programming at the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This office provides critical support for energy efficiency and modern, clean, economically vital sources of energy, no small matter to our economy or our quality of life.

If energy efficiency measures were comprehensively …

July 25, 2017 by Emily Hammond
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The newest dangerous proposal filtering through Congress is H.R. 2887, the "No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017." Packaged as a prohibition on states regulating outside of their borders, the bill is a Trojan horse that usurps the states' role in the federal system and threatens their ability to protect their own citizens from harm. The House Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law is taking up the bill in a hearing today, July 25, and Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholars have submitted a letter opposing the bill. 

Poor drafting obscures impact 

The bill itself is challenging to read. It is poorly drafted and hides its true impact behind generic terminology and rabbit-hole definitions. Here is a summary of the key language – after which a concrete example helps demonstrate its meaning. 

The bill contains a prohibition: states may not …

July 24, 2017 by Katie Tracy
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When President Trump released his spring Unified Agenda last week, he made it abundantly clear that he has no interest in protecting workers from occupational injuries and diseases. The White House released the agenda amid what it called “Made in America” week, but instead of recognizing workers and advocating for safe and healthy jobs and fair wages, Trump brought manufacturers to the nation’s capital to show off their products. When it comes to working families, Trump is ignoring what should be his highest priority – ensuring that every person who leaves home for a job in the morning returns at the end of the day without injury or illness.

The regulatory agenda for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is devoid of any plans that would address the litany of significant health and safety hazards workers face on a daily basis. Rather, OSHA has cut down …

July 21, 2017 by Katie Tracy
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On Monday, July 17, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) convened a public meeting to hear input from stakeholders about how the agency might grow and strengthen its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). Given the change in administration, the announcement was no surprise. 

Growing the VPP had also been a priority of the George W. Bush administration, during which time OSHA made plans to add thousands of new participants despite having no evidence the program improved worker health and safety. Resource constraints ultimately tempered OSHA’s expansion plans, but not before the agency had damaged the VPP and eroded its integrity. With this history in mind, I attended this week’s stakeholder meeting to urge the agency to learn from the past and reevaluate the VPP’s performance and cost-effectiveness before it moves to expand it. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) or the Department of Labor (DOL …

July 20, 2017 by James Goodwin
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Early this morning, the Trump administration released its Spring 2017 Regulatory Agenda, which outlines the regulatory and deregulatory actions the administration expects to take over the next 12 months. Because it is the first of the Trump administration, this document is particularly significant. By comparing it with the last Regulatory Agenda of the Obama administration, which was released in fall of 2016, we are able to see what pending regulatory actions the Trump administration has abandoned or delayed. Only a preliminary review is necessary to confirm the harm the outlined policies would do to the nation's hard-working families and communities and how they would exacerbate social inequality throughout our country. 

Strikingly, the Spring 2017 Regulatory Agenda  also offers the first concrete evidence of how the Trump administration intends to implement its harmful "one-in, two-out" executive order, which calls upon agencies to eliminate or weaken two existing …

July 19, 2017 by Rena Steinzor
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Early in the Trump administration, news about delayed and "disappeared" rules emerged in several media outlets. Many of these delays were driven by a memo issued by Trump White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on January 20, 2017, which "froze" the implementation of rules until March 21, 2017, so that a representative of the administration could review them. Freezing rules for a limited amount of time is standard practice for newly inaugurated presidents. But the White House and agency administrators like the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Scott Pruitt soon decided to move beyond the Priebus memo to impose further delays, some as long as a year or two, so that industry-friendly changes could be crafted without having to undergo the full rigor of a rulemaking process. Many of the targeted Obama-era rules were designed to protect public health, worker and consumer safety, and the environment …

July 17, 2017 by Katie Tracy
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June 22 marked the one-year anniversary of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the first major update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since its original enactment in 1976. The measure set a one-year deadline for EPA to complete several actions to implement the law, including finalizing its procedural rules on chemical prioritization and risk evaluation and releasing key documents related to the initial ten chemicals the agency has chosen to evaluate. (See all implementation activities here.)

One of those initial ten chemicals is asbestos, as it should be, since EPA determined some 28 years ago that there's no safe level of exposure. In fact, based on this evidence, EPA attempted to phase out nearly all uses of asbestos in the United States, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ban in 1991. The court said that EPA …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
July 31, 2017

When Deciding Which Endangered Species to Prioritize, What Role Do Biodiversity and Ecosystem-Level Assessments Play?

July 31, 2017

Does Species Triage Make Sense for the Fish and Wildlife Service?

July 27, 2017

Trump's Deregulatory Agenda Is an Assault on Climate-Threatened Communities

July 26, 2017

Trump's Unified Agenda: Sending the Energy Sector Back to the Dark Ages

July 25, 2017

Pending House Bill Would Drastically Limit State Protections for Public Health, Safety, Environment

July 24, 2017

Is OSHA Out of the Worker Protection Business?

July 21, 2017

OSHA to Expand Voluntary Protection Programs without Assessing Benefits to Workers