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June 17, 2011 by Matthew Freeman

Administration Pandering to Anti-Regulatory Business Leaders Gets Cold Shoulder

The Washington Post reports today on the White House’s latest failed effort to extract political gain from the President’s misguided “regulatory look-back,” led with disturbing enthusiasm by Cass Sunstein, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The story tells us a lot about the thinking of the man who controls access to the President, and also lays bare a failing of the way the media covers regulatory issues.

According to the Post, White House chief of staff William M. Daley appeared Thursday before a National Association of Manufacturers gathering hoping to “make nice with corporate America.” But instead, he endured a series of hostile questions from the audience of manufacturing executives eager for looser regulation of their industries.

Daley served up the President’s regulatory look-back as evidence of the Administration’s willingness to weaken regulation in order to please industry – and perhaps the occasional independent voter. But the titans of industry were having none of it. Quotes the Post:

“We think there’s a thin facade by the administration to say the right things, but they don’t come close to doing things,” said Barney T. Bishop III, chief executive of the business …

April 29, 2011 by Matthew Freeman
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Robert R.M. Verchick recently completed a two-year stint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and returned to his work at Loyola University in New Orleans, and, happily, to the rolls of active CPR Member Scholars. While at EPA, he published Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World, and just a few days after returning to CPR, he's published two op-eds on disaster preparedness and recovery.

In the Christian Science Monitor on April 13, he asked whether Japan's recovery from the recent tsunami and nuclear disaster would be "heavy-handed or hands-off"? He goes on to contrast the recovery efforts in Japan after a 1995 earthquake laid waste to the city of Kobe with the ongoing post-Katrina recovery in Verchick's home town of New Orleans. In Kobe, Verchick says, strong-willed Mayor Kazutoshi Sasayama developed a master plan for reconstructing the city, and pursued …

April 21, 2011 by Matthew Freeman
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Right about this time a year ago, Americans were learning about a massive explosion aboard an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico called the Deepwater Horizon that had occurred the day before. Video footage of the flame-engulfed rig began splashing across television screens, and we were told that 11 workers on the rig were “missing.” (In fact, those workers had been killed.)

Also unclear or unrevealed was the extent of the environmental harm that was being done. In the day-after stories, BP and the federal government expressed the view that pollution was not much of a concern. Here’s what the New York Times article said,

Officials said the pollution was considered minimal so far because most of the oil and gas was being burned up in the fire. “But that does have the potential to change,” said David Rainey, the vice president …

April 13, 2011 by Matthew Freeman
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CPR Member Scholar John Echeverria was on Capitol Hill yesterday, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution. His topic was a proposed bill from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to impose federal limits on state and local use of eminent domain – the authority to condemn private property so that it can be used for public purposes. The subject became particularly controversial in 2005 when the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Kelo vs. City of New London, upholding the city’s condemnation of private property so that it could be sold and developed by a private developer whose project the city had concluded served the public interest of economic development.

Sensenbrenner’s bill, H.R.1433, the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2011, would suspend federal economic development funds for states that condemn property for purposes of economic development. That’d be a …

April 7, 2011 by Matthew Freeman
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This afternoon at 1:00 p.m., the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will check one more box in the House GOP's ongoing effort to demonstrate its appreciation to the corporate interests that helped elect them, by holding a hearing on a proposal disingenuously called the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011, or as they acronym-ize it, the TRAIN Act.

As the name does not at all suggest, it’s a bill about undercutting environmental regulations that inconvenience the energy industry. The idea is to create a sort of non-environmentally minded Star Chamber to review the full slate of Clean Air Act and coal ash regulations, for the purpose of concluding that they cost too much. That’s not quite how they phrase it, of course, but that is the purpose.

Here’s an …

March 25, 2011 by Matthew Freeman
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One hundred years ago today, 146 people perished in one of the nation’s worst workplace tragedies – the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in the heart of New York City. The story is gruesome, and each detail of exactly how so many people were trapped in a burning building was, and remains, a reminder of what can happen when worker safety is sacrificed in the name of profit.

Here’s the barest sketch. The Triangle Waist Factory in lower Manhattan relied on cheap, exploitable labor to produce women’s blouses – shirtwaists, as they were known. The factory occupied the 8th, 9th and 10th floors of a building at 29 Washington Place, and its employees were mostly young immigrant women, some as young as 14. They’d come to the United States for a better life, and found themselves working more than 50 hours a week …

Feb. 11, 2011 by Matthew Freeman
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On last night’s PBS NewsHour, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, took a shot at CPR’s Sidney Shapiro, who was the lone witness that Committee Democrats were allowed to invite to testify at yesterday’s  hearing on the costs of regulation. Issa badly mischaracterized Shapiro’s testimony, saying:

The minority chose a witness. Mr. Shapiro spoke on behalf of his views, which were, in a nutshell -- and he reiterated them -- that he sees no reason to have a cost-vs.-benefit analysis. He thinks it's futile, meaning that no matter how much it costs, go ahead and do regulations. I would hope that, instead of the progressive witness that they had, that they would have sensible groups that see an advantage to environmental progress, while at the same time getting business progress, that win-win that we often look …

Feb. 10, 2011 by Matthew Freeman
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This morning, CPR Member Scholar Sidney Shapiro will testify before Rep. Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the economic value of regulation.  He'll be a lone voice on the roster of witnesses.  The hearing will have two panels of witnesses.  The first will feature five industry representatives, and the second will feature two representatives of right-wing think tanks (Heritage and Mercatus), one leader of a nonprofit that advocates for small businesses, and Shapiro.  That would be eight witnesses who may be expected to support Issa's witch hunt for burdensome regulations, versus one defender of efforts to actually enforce the laws Congress has passed to protect health, safety, the environment, workplace safety, consumer rights and more.

Shapiro's may be a lone voice, but it'll be a clear one.  And Shapiro's testimony will cover a fair amount of territory.  Among …

Feb. 10, 2011 by Matthew Freeman
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CPR Member Scholar Noah Sachs has a piece on The New Republic's website dismantling the GOP House majority's favority piece of anti-regulatory legislation, the REINS Act.  The proposal would block all regulations from taking effect unless they are specifically approved by both houses of Congress within 70 days of submission and then signed into effect by the President. He writes:

Last year, the Office of Management and Budget concluded that the annual cost of major rules issued between FY 1999 and 2009 was $43 to $55 billion, while the annual societal benefits of those same regulations ranged from $128 billion to $616 billion—an excellent return on investment by any standard. To see why the REINS Act would jeopardize these benefits, take a look under the hood. The bill would apply to any agency regulation with an expected annual economic impact of $100 million or …

Feb. 10, 2011 by Matthew Freeman
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We'll be live-tweeting today's hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  Follow @CPRBlog.

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