blm-pixabay-wide.jpg
Aug. 12, 2020 by Sidney Shapiro

Administrative Procedures and Racism

This post was originally published by the Yale Journal on Regulation's Notice & Comment blog. Reprinted with permission.

In 1958, civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Andrew Young, met in New York with Reverend Everett Parker, who was the Director of the Office of Communications of the United Church of Christ. The Office was an advocacy arm of the church, whose members’ commitment to civil rights dated back to colonial times. The civil rights leaders sought the Office’s assistance because of their concern about the biased coverage of the civil rights movement by Southern television stations. After years of litigation, the meeting led to two decisions in the D.C. Circuit (United Church of Christ I & United Church of Christ II) that blocked efforts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to relicense WLBT, a Jacksonville, Mississippi television station, which had engaged in news and other programming that were plainly racist.

The cases are remembered today, if they are remembered at all, for a pathbreaking holding that television viewers had a statutory right to intervene in FCC’s license hearings, an issue that the court treated as standing. But they are important for another …

June 1, 2020 by Matt Shudtz, David Flores, Matthew Freeman, James Goodwin, Brian Gumm, Catherine Jones, Darya Minovi, Katlyn Schmitt, Katie Tracy, Robert Verchick, Robert Glicksman, Alice Kaswan, Thomas McGarity, Joel Mintz, Sidney Shapiro, Amy Sinden
george-floyd-murder-protest-dc-01-wide.jpg

Staff and Board members of the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) denounce the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Memorial Day. We stand with the peaceful protestors calling for radical, systemic reforms to root out racism from our society and all levels of our governing institutions and the policies they administer.

CPR Member Scholars and staff are dedicated to listening to and working alongside Black communities and non-Black people of color to call out racism and injustice and demand immediate and long-lasting change. Racism and bigotry cannot continue in the United States if our nation is to live up to its creed of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

CPR's vision is thriving communities and a resilient planet. That ideal animates all of our work, but systemic sources of inequality and injustice stand as massive barriers to the realization …

March 25, 2020 by Sidney Shapiro, Liz Fisher
coronavirus3-pixabay-wide.jpg

Whatever one's political views, the end goal regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) is the same – to minimize the number of people dying and suffering from severe disease. As commentators have repeatedly noted, we need genuine expertise for that. Beyond involving scientists and physicians in decision-making, there are three steps in determining what that expertise should look like and how we tap into it most effectively.

First, the experts can inform decision-making, even if uncertainty will remain. While we can all agree on the end point – no one dying – how to get there is not clear, even to the experts. Rigorous expert judgment and a respect for science are therefore required. Expertise is developed not just from professional training, but from experience in using that training over and over, building up a store of experience that makes one a better expert.

Ultimately, however, the choices in uncertain situations are …

Oct. 18, 2018 by Martha McCluskey, Sidney Shapiro
FloodedCity_wide.jpg

This op-ed originally ran in The Hill. 

While hurricanes like Florence are technically “natural” disasters, the Carolinas are experiencing the ways that the distinctly human-made problems of social and economic inequality reinforce and aggravate storm damage. Exhibit A is the catastrophic breaches and spills from the enormous manure “lagoons” located on North Carolina’s many factory-scale hog farms.

In the industry, these farms are known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, but nobody with a nose passing within a few miles of one would say that food is the thing in large concentrations. Torrential rainfall and floodwaters from Florence caused dozens of lagoons to overflow, releasing a toxic stew of contaminants harmful to human and ecological health, including E. coli and other bacteria.

The residents of the surrounding communities put most directly at risk are disproportionately poor or people of color. These communities have long suffered …

Oct. 2, 2018 by Sidney Shapiro, Robert Verchick
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

Originally published in The Regulatory Review as part of a series on social justice and the green economy. Reprinted with permission.

The reactions to our article, Inequality, Social Resilience, and the Green Economy, have a clear message: We, environmentalists, have our work cut out for us.

We wrote our article to start an overdue conversation about environmental policy and social and economic well-being, and we thank our commentators for joining us in starting this conservation. In response, we would note that, although protecting the environment and achieving justice has never been easy, the United States has made progress over time. We are persuaded, despite the caveats our commentators have identified, that the country can do so again.

Michael P. Vandenbergh warns of the political danger of tying the environmental agenda to social well-being in our current political state, and we agree with this warning for all of …

Sept. 24, 2018 by Sidney Shapiro, Robert Verchick
wind-solar-wide.jpg

Originally published in The Regulatory Review as part of a series on social justice and the green economy. Reprinted with permission.

A green economy will generate thousands of new jobs — many more than will be lost to regulations on carbon pollution. But a green economy may also increase wealth inequality in some parts of the United States because people who lose jobs to carbon controls are not the same as those who will get them when the green economy blooms. For example, the kiln operator laid off from a cement plant in Virginia will probably not end up installing rooftop solar panels New Mexico. And based on the demographics of today's fossil fuel industry, job losses due to environmental regulations will likely affect whites, Hispanics, and African-Americans in significant numbers.

Nevertheless, when regulatory advocates have responded in the past to critics who thunder against "job-killing" regulation, they …

Sept. 5, 2018 by Sidney Shapiro
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

This is the first in a series of posts from CPR's new From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report and provides a preview of the preface and executive summary. From September 6-26, CPR will post a new chapter from the report each weekday on CPRBlog. The full report, including a downloadable PDF, will also be available on CPR's website.

Preface: An Ounce of Prevention

The story is now familiar. An area of the United States is battered by a superstorm, hurricane, or other climate disaster, resulting in a calamity for the people who live and work there. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers emergency assistance, but since it is not enough to address the harms that occurred, Congress acts to provide hundreds of millions of dollars of additional assistance. 

But imagine a counter-narrative, with a significantly better outcome. In that story, we …

April 5, 2017 by Sidney Shapiro
pig-farm-wide.jpg

This op-ed originally ran in the Raleigh News & Observer.

The civil justice system in North Carolina exists to protect people and their property from unreasonable actions by others. One of the longest standing causes of action in civil courts is for nuisance claims, which allow you to bring suit when your neighbor creates a condition on their property that interferes with your ability to use and enjoy your property, such as excessive noise, poorly stored garbage that might attract vermin or foul odors.

Yet, House Bill 467, which is being fast-tracked through the legislature, would prevent hundreds of rural landowners from recovering more than token damages even if a court were to decide that the corporations responsible for factory farming have committed just such a nuisance.

Nuisance suits are already limited to addressing conditions that are unreasonable for the area where they occur. They also protect …

July 7, 2016 by Sidney Shapiro
usda-bldg-wide.jpg

Originally published on RegBlog by CPR Member Scholar Sidney Shapiro.

Although it is well known that regulatory capture can subvert the public interest, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are two forms of capture that can affect the performance of regulatory agencies.

The "old capture"—which is what most of us think of when we think of regulatory capture—occurs when regulators become so co-opted by the regulated entities or special interests they are supposed to regulate that they end up working to advance those interests instead of the public interest articulated in their statutory mission. In the "new capture," regulators attempt to serve the public interest, but they are stymied by procedural requirements that have gummed up the regulatory process and by deep budget cuts that make it more difficult to comply with those requirements. Both forms of capture subvert the public interest, but it …

March 14, 2016 by Sidney Shapiro
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

I was recently a panelist at a Senate workshop on regulatory capture sponsored by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). In an earlier post about this event, I wrote about the potential of enhanced transparency to reduce regulatory capture, which I discussed at the workshop. Conservative commentators at the workshop argued that agencies are captured by public interest groups as well as by regulated entities. They contended that Congress should thus pass the REINs Act to reduce capture from both types of regulatory stakeholders. Of course, their fears of public interest capture are greatly overblown, as the potential for these groups to capture agencies is far more hypothetical than real. But the real problem is that the REINS Act, if it became law, would increase regulatory capture, not decrease it.  

My earlier post explained that the imposition of budget cuts by Congress on regulatory agencies …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Aug. 12, 2020

Administrative Procedures and Racism

June 1, 2020

CPR Will Stand with Those Who Cannot Breathe

March 25, 2020

Three Steps for an Expert Response to COVID-19

Oct. 18, 2018

The Hill Op-Ed: As Hurricanes Expose Inequalities, Civil Courts May Be 'Great Equalizer'

Oct. 2, 2018

Environmental Justice Is Worth Fighting For

Sept. 24, 2018

Regulating the Green Economy

Sept. 5, 2018

From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery