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April 21, 2020 by Brian Gumm

CPR's Verchick Notes Weakening Environmental Enforcement during Pandemic Endangers Fenceline Communities

On April 17, CPR Board President Rob Verchick joined EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine and other panelists for an American Bar Association webinar on environmental protections and enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the event, Bodine expressed "surprise" that the agency's pandemic enforcement policy was so roundly criticized, but she shouldn't have been caught off guard by those critiques.

As Verchick noted during the discussion, "The problem with [weakening monitoring and pollution reporting requirements] is that fenceline communities have no idea where to look. They have no idea if the facilities in their backyards are…taking a holiday from pollution requirements or not."

Verchick added, "Companies don't know what their competitors are doing, and so now you've got companies who might be thinking, oh, well, my competing facilities, maybe they're taking advantage of this and I must, too, because nobody knows who's taking advantage of it and who isn't."

He also pointed out the scope of the problem that EPA's policy creates, saying, "I mean, when you're talking about hundreds of thousands of facilities…you have no idea where to look [for pollution spikes]."

You can watch and listen below.

ABA Webinar with Rob Verchick

March 31, 2020 by Brian Gumm
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On March 27, the Center for Progressive Reform joined environmental justice, public health, and community advocates in calling out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for suspending enforcement of our nation's crucial environmental laws. The agency made the move as part of the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, despite mounting evidence that increased air pollution worsens COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.

Not missing the opportunity to use the crisis as an excuse to press its assault on our safeguards, the EPA said last week that it would not "seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations" for an indefinite period of time. As the coalition of groups noted, the order is broad and "relieves polluting and hazardous industries from meeting environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak, with no end date in sight."

The enforcement suspension will almost certainly lead to …

May 16, 2019 by Brian Gumm
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In April, states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed published drafts of the latest iteration of plans to reduce pollution and protect their rivers and streams. New analyses from the Center for Progressive Reform show that the plans fall far short of what is needed to restore the health and ecological integrity of the Chesapeake Bay.

The draft plans, known as Phase III watershed implementation plans (WIPs), were developed as part of the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) framework that includes all the states in the Chesapeake watershed. CPR Policy Analysts David Flores and Evan Isaacson focused on three states – Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – that are responsible for nearly 90 percent of nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake and represent more than 90 percent of the remaining pollution reductions needed to reach the final 2025 pollution reduction target.

Isaacson examined and evaluated the draft WIPs with several criteria …

March 27, 2019 by Brian Gumm
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Michigan. Minnesota. New Jersey. North Carolina. West Virginia. These are just some of the hotspots of water contamination caused by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS. Linked to a number of cancers and other illnesses, PFAS chemicals have been used in everything from nonstick cookware to stain-resistant clothing and carpets. Until recently, the substances have gone largely unregulated, exposing millions of Americans to toxic contamination.

Earlier this month, CPR Member Scholar and UC-Riverside Professor Carl Cranor spoke with UCR News about PFAS and the dangers the chemicals pose to human health and the environment.

PFAS' carbon-fluorine bonds are some of the strongest in organic chemistry. They're so stable, in fact, that PFAS have been widely referred to as "forever chemicals" because of their indestructability, said Carl Cranor, a distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside.

"These chemicals are going to be part …

Nov. 6, 2017 by Brian Gumm
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In an article just published in the Environmental Law Institute's Environmental Law Reporter, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Bob Sussman examines the tenure of Administrator Scott Pruitt thus far. I recently talked with Mr. Sussman about Pruitt's so-called "back to basics" approach at EPA, the rollbacks of environmental protections he has overseen so far, and Pruitt's numerous favors for special interests. 

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has made a big deal out of his "back to basics" mantra at the agency. What do you think he means by that, and are his actions living up to his words? 

Although Scott Pruitt's words suggest a renewed focus on the fundamentals of environmental protection – clean air, clean water, and safer chemicals – his actions tell a different story. Instead of doubling down on traditional programs safeguarding air, water, and land, Pruitt's tenure so far has …

Jan. 24, 2017 by Brian Gumm
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NEWS RELEASE: Rep. Mick Mulvaney Should Not Be Confirmed to Lead the Office of Management and Budget                                                                                                             

Today, the Senate Committees on Budget and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held confirmation hearings for Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), President Donald Trump's selection for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Mulvaney tried to assuage some of the concerns about his nomination, but his answers attempting to mask his disdain for public protections – combined with his past rhetoric and actions – show that he should not be confirmed. 

Robert Verchick, President of the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR), summed up the concerns about Mulvaney. "The Office of Management and Budget serves several key roles within the federal government, including proposing the budgets of protective agencies and overseeing the regulatory process," Verchick said. "As an anti-government ideologue, Rep. Mick Mulvaney is wholly unqualified to serve as director of …

Dec. 13, 2016 by Brian Gumm
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President-Elect Donald Trump has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as his Interior Secretary, and former Texas governor Rick Perry as his Energy Secretary. The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has released statements on the picks.

Robert Glicksman, CPR Board Member, on Department of the Interior Secretary nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT): 

Donald Trump's selection of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as Secretary of the Interior does nothing to erase fears that the President-Elect prioritizes private extractive and developmental uses of federal lands at the expense of management in the long-term interests of the American people. 

So far, Trump's transition team has made it clear that the new administration intends to abandon the Department of the Interior's mission of protecting and preserving our nation's natural heritage for use by …

Oct. 31, 2016 by Brian Gumm
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Earlier this month, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy published a collection of essays filled with legal and policy recommendations for the next president. Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar Lisa Heinzerling closed out the publication with a piece on improving federal environmental policy, which includes recommendations for how the next president can ensure that the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) stays out of the way. 

Under the auspices of a series of executive orders, OIRA has been interfering with agency rulemaking and the development of crucial public protections for decades. From closed-door meetings with industry lobbyists to inappropriate substantive changes that overrule the judgment of agency scientists and other experts, OIRA has not done enough to support agency actions in pursuit of cleaner air and water, better protected natural resources, and safer workplaces. Instead, OIRA's record is marred by …

Oct. 12, 2016 by Brian Gumm
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NEWS RELEASE: Center for Progressive Reform Welcomes New Climate Adaptation Policy Analyst

Today, the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) announced that David Flores has joined the organization as its new policy analyst. Flores will serve alongside the group's staff and Member Scholars in their efforts to protect public health and the environment, with a particular focus on ways communities and the Chesapeake Bay region can adapt to climate change in a fair, just, inclusive manner. 

"I'm excited to welcome David Flores to our team," said Matthew Shudtz, executive director of CPR. "CPR is embarking on several new, exciting projects related to climate change and adaptation strategies, and David has a keen sense of how CPR can succeed in this crucial area of work. He's a smart analyst and a strategic advocate – the perfect person to work alongside our Member Scholars and our allies to …

Sept. 13, 2016 by Brian Gumm
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Every year, Thomson Reuters and West Publishing compile a set of significant and influential articles from a number of legal scholars who focus on land use and environmental law. The Land Use & Environment Law Review represents some of the best scholarship on these issues, and peer reviewers recently included five pieces on environmental law published in 2014 and 2015. 

Among the selected articles are two from CPR Member Scholar Hannah Wiseman, Professor at Florida State University College of Law, and one from Member Scholar Alejandro Camacho, Professor at the UC-Irvine School of Law. 

The reviewers also designated a longer list of authors and articles as finalists, and CPR Member Scholars were well represented. Robin Kundis Craig, Daniel Farber, Robert Glicksman, Dave Owen, Amy Sinden, and Wendy Wagner all had articles included on the finalist list. 

You can find both lists and links to the scholars' articles …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
April 21, 2020

CPR's Verchick Notes Weakening Environmental Enforcement during Pandemic Endangers Fenceline Communities

March 31, 2020

CPR Joins Advocates in Blasting EPA's Free Pass for Polluters

May 16, 2019

Chesapeake Bay State Plans to Protect Watershed, Reduce Pollution Fall Short

March 27, 2019

CPR's Cranor Talks PFAS, Drinking Water, and Corporate Accountability

Nov. 6, 2017

Is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Focused on Getting 'Back to Basics' or Slashing and Burning Our Environmental Protections?

Jan. 24, 2017

CPR Statement: Rep. Mick Mulvaney Should Not Be Confirmed to Lead the Office of Management and Budget

Dec. 13, 2016

CPR Statements: Trump Picks for EPA, Interior, Energy Chart the Wrong Course for Our Health, Our Environment, and Our Energy Policies