April 7, 2010 by Matthew Freeman

Massey's Don Blankenship is No Average Global Warming Denier; He's Also Operating an Unsafe Coal Mine

About a year ago in this space, I wrote a piece taking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to task for its unhinged reaction to the Environmental Protection Agency’s then-nascent efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. As an example of the bombast, I included a link to a speech made by Chamber board member Don Blankenship, head of Massey Energy, in which he denied climate change, compared those who disagree with him with Osama Bin Laden and called them communists and atheists, accused environmentalists of “taking over the world,” and much more.

Apparently, such outrageous rhetoric doesn’t disqualify someone from being on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You know what else doesn’t disqualify a coal industry honcho ? Operating a dangerous mine. It was in a Massey mine that 25 coal miners died earlier this week, after a methane explosion – the same mine, ThinkProgress notes, that had been cited for more than 3,000 safety violations in the last 15 years. Fifty-three of those violations were issued this past March. 

The anti-regulatory crowd is fond of asserting that, left to their own devices, markets are self-correcting, and that abuses will be punished in the …

March 2, 2010 by Matthew Freeman

Ordinarily, if an organization with the word “recycling” in its name said unkind things about the Center for Progressive Reform, I’d worry. But the other week, we got dinged by a newly launched outfit called “Citizens for Recycling First,” and I’m thinking it’s a badge of honor.

Before proceeding, let’s dwell for a moment on the mental images the group’s name conjures up. I’m thinking about plastic bins with recycling logos on their sides, filled by conscientious Americans with soup cans, beer bottles, and aluminum foil.

Perhaps you pull up a different mental image. But whatever it is, I’m pretty sure it’s not a big hole in the ground with toxic coal ash in it. That little bit of misdirection is probably just what the marketing types of the coal and coal ash industry had in mind when this …

Feb. 23, 2010 by Matthew Freeman

The Obama Administration struck a blow for transparency last week with the launch of an online dashboard allowing users to keep track of what the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is working on. Good for OIRA for making such information so readily available. CPR plans to put it to good use. 

This month we began an initiative of our own, CPR’s Eye on OIRA project. As the name suggests, we plan to keep careful tabs on what OIRA’s doing, what regs it has before it, how long they’ve been there, which lobbyists are meeting with which OIRA staff, whether OIRA is sticking to its deadlines, and what the end result of OIRA’s involvement turns out to be. The hard truth is that, even in the Obama Administration, OIRA is where industry focuses its efforts to weaken needed regulations. OIRA seems …

Dec. 12, 2009 by Matthew Freeman


Dec. 12, 2009 by Matthew Freeman

The tagline that the producers of Food, Inc. are using to promote their Academy Award-winning documentary is “You’ll never look at dinner the same way.” They’re quite right. The film airs on many PBS stations this evening (and on others throughout the course of the next week). See for yourself.

I came to it expecting that I’d end up feeling guilty about being part of the industry-consumer web that subjects farm animals to “nasty, brutish and short” lives, before slaughtering them for hamburger. I did feel guilty, and still do, days later. But more than that, you come away from Food, Inc. convinced that in the interest of maximizing profits for the food industry, we’ve introduced hazards into the food we eat, created an obesity problem, and allowed mega-corporations to run roughshod over family farmers.
I won’t spoil the story, but the …

Dec. 12, 2009 by Matthew Freeman

CPR President Rena Steinzor had an op-ed in The Hill yesterday, dismantling right wing arguments about "excessive" regulation, and shaming the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for sitting on rules long past their required deadlines.

Noting just some of the now-taken-for-granted results of safeguards that were regulated into existence -- things like clean tap water, safe and effective drugs, and safety belts in automobiles, she points out that opponents of regulation are working hard to turn back the clock, producing proposal after proposal to further hamstring enforcement of laws like the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and more. She dismisses the right wing's argument that there's some sort of tsunami of regulation coming from the Obama Administration, noting that fewer regs were adopted in 2012 than in any single year of the Bush Administration.  And …

Nov. 10, 2009 by Matthew Freeman

New in movie theaters this past weekend was a horror flick called, “The Box,” starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a couple given a disturbing choice. They are presented with a mysterious box, equipped with a button. If they press the button, they’ll get $1 million, but someone they do not know will die.

The premise is striking, but it’s not quite so fictional as we’d like to think. Every day in the United States and across the globe, manufacturers produce products that cause unnecessary injury and death. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but there it is. Our lives are full of products that increase our risk of cancer or other deadly diseases – not just cigarettes, the harm from which is widely known and understood, but other products, including certain nonstick cookware, some kinds of paint, discarded computers and more. Manufacturers use …

Nov. 2, 2009 by Matthew Freeman

A little bragging is in order this morning. Last week, CPR Member Scholars Tom McGarity and Wendy Wagner won the University of Texas’s Hamilton Book Author Award for their book, Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research. The award is given to the author(s) of what is judged the best book by University of Texas faculty in the previous year.

Published by Harvard University Press, Bending Science takes a hard look at the ways and extent to which scientific data are misused and abused in regulatory and tort law, focusing in on misdeeds by corporations, plaintiff attorneys, think tanks, and government agencies. Using case studies, the authors dissect the techniques by which perpetrators create research tailored to their commercial or political needs, conceal unwelcome data, spin public perception about matters of science, discredit legitimate but “inconvenient” research, and bully the scientists who produce …

Oct. 30, 2009 by Matthew Freeman

One of the great political communications successes of the past 30 years has been the right wing’s relentless assault on the American regulatory system. Think of the words and images that have come to be associated with “regulation” in that time: red tape, bureaucrats, green eye shades, piles of paper stretching to the ceiling, and more. And the approach has worked – remarkably well, in fact, given the compelling imagery on the other side of the ledger:  children left to play in unregulated polluted waterways, power plants belching smoke into the air we breathe, foods that poison and drugs that induce heart attacks. Imagine if the producers of campaign commercials decided to dig into that Pandora’s Box of images!

Most of the attention that the regulatory system draws focuses on individual skirmishes – a fight over how and to what extent to regulate mercury, for example. Many …

Sept. 6, 2009 by Matthew Freeman

CPR's Dan Rohlf had an op-ed in The Oregonian on Friday, taking the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to task.  Faced with news that the nation's largest emitter of mercury pollution is a cement plant in the state, DEQ moved quickly to...defend the polluter.  Rohlf writes:

The biggest mercury polluter in the entire United States is a cement factory in eastern Oregon. This fact has not escaped notice of the state's environmental watchdog, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.  The very day the federal government released a disturbing report on mercury's widespread threat, DEQ officials announced that the agency would work hard to make sure that the cement company could continue to release mercury at a level 60 times greater than new federal emissions limits.

 Huh?  While it may be hard to believe, the agency that describes its job as "to protect …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Oct. 30, 2020

Thanks for the Journey!

Sept. 9, 2020

They Can't Breathe!

Sept. 1, 2020

Trump Deregulation Ignores Both Science and Law

June 1, 2020

CPR Will Stand with Those Who Cannot Breathe

May 8, 2020

When 'Essential' Means 'Expendable': Connecting the Dots Between Back-to-Work Orders and Spread of Coronavirus

May 7, 2020

McGarity Op-Ed: Beware Mitch McConnell's Liability Shield!

May 6, 2020

Boston Globe Op-ed: Amidst COVID-19, Hospital Siting Decisions Have Equity Implications