WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg
Oct. 30, 2009 by Ben Somberg

SuperFreakonomics and Superficial Facts: A Defense of the ADA

This guest post is written by Thomas Tolin, Assistant Professor of Economics at West Chester University, and Martin Patwell, Director of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities at WCU.

In the recently published SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance the authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, make the following claim: (p. 138-139)

As we wrote earlier, the law of unintended consequences is among the most potent laws in existence… Consider the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was intended to safeguard disabled workers from discrimination. A noble intention, yes? Absolutely--but the data convincingly show that the net result was fewer jobs for Americans with disabilities. Why? After the ADA became law, employers were so worried they wouldn’t be able to discipline or fire bad workers who had a disability that they avoided hiring such workers in the first place.

We reject this argument. It is a simplification of the literature that undermines civil rights legislation for individuals with disabilities.

The starting point for this narrative is an article by Tom DeLeire (Journal of Human Resources, 2000). DeLeire concludes that following passage of the ADA there was a 7 …

Oct. 29, 2009 by Ben Somberg
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

Today the Consumer Product Safety Comission released three draft reports on its findings so far regarding contaminated Chinese drywall.

Here's how the Sarasota Herald-Tribune puts the development:

In what is sure to inflame lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the federal government issued a report on Thursday about Chinese drywall that stopped short of linking the material to health problems, foul smells or corrosion reported by homeowners.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and others have been analyzing the drywall and said they need more time to complete that work.

Explains CPSC's email update:

Basically, the combined federal task force investigating the issue has found elevated levels of two elements in some Chinese-made drywall: sulfur and strontium. We are conducting additional scientific tests to find the connection between these elevated levels and any reported health symptoms or corrosion effects. The results of …

Oct. 27, 2009 by Ben Somberg
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

Super Freakonomics, which came out last week, has been critiqued thoroughly (UCS has a good library of their own critiques and links to others) for its embrace of geoengineering as the cheap fix to that problem called global warming, and the book's methods generally have also been critiqued as lacking.

But yesterday brought a new whopper from co-author Steven Levitt, on the Diane Rehm Show:

"Of course, ocean acidification is an import issue. Now, there are ways to deal with ocean acidification, right, it's actually, that's actually, we know exactly how to un-acidifiy the oceans, is to pour a bunch of base into it, so, so if that turns out to be an incredibly big problem, then we can deal with that."

The interview is here; the quote is at 20:15 in the audio. (Update: the specific audio clip is here)

Well, problem …

Oct. 22, 2009 by Ben Somberg
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

CPR President Rena Steinzor and board member Robert Glicksman sent a letter today to White House Science Adviser John Holdren and OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein regarding OMB's role in EPA science decisions. The letter concerns two recent episodes involving OMB that we wrote about this week: one regarding the EPA's Endocrine Disrputor Screening Program (EDSP) and the other regarding the agency's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). From the letter:

Both of these episodes pre-date Professor Sunstein’s confirmation and may well be the product of staff steeped in the culture of OMB regulatory review under the Bush Administration. The episodes represent a direct assault on scientific integrity because they involve attempts to reverse conclusions by agency experts at the behest of regulated industries whose central objections were rooted in concerns about potential future compliance costs, not the accuracy of EPA’s science. Compounding the offensiveness of this …

Oct. 15, 2009 by Ben Somberg
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

The EPA today released a 15-page Clean Water Act Enforcement Action Plan prepared by the agency's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Back in early July, Lisa Jackson had directed the enforcmeent office to develop a plan, and to "report back to me within 90 days with your recommendations." The EPA seems to be saying the plan released today is the final ("EPA Administrator Announces Plan to Retool and Reinvigorate Clean Water Enforcement Program.")

The announcement came as the House Transportatoin and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing this morning on CWA enforcement, including testimony from Jackson and various stakeholders.

We'll have more on this later.

Oct. 9, 2009 by Ben Somberg
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

I thought that the Alan Carlin story -- the 'suppressed' climate change skeptic at EPA -- was over.

After the initial debunkings, the story kept going, but then I thought the NYT really put it to rest in late September. Apparently not for everyone.

Carlin, many have noted, is an economist at EPA, not a climate scientist. He has one Ph.D. - in economics. But that's no matter. The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel wanted more on the story, and wrote this. Strassel refers to Carlin as a "career EPA scientist." What a scoop!

Oct. 9, 2009 by Ben Somberg
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

Congratulations to CPR Member Scholar and board member Rob Verchick! Rob has been appointed to the position of Deputy Associate Administrator in the EPA's Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation (OPEI).

Sept. 30, 2009 by Ben Somberg
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

The full 821-page bill is up here.

That's not to be confused with the 801-page pre-draft everyone was checking out yesterday, or the 684-page one earlier yesterday.

They’ve also got a section-by-section outline of the bill.

We'll have much more soon.

Sept. 29, 2009 by Ben Somberg
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

Much of the battle to preserve and protect water resources happens at the state and local levels – in any number of policy choices advocated and made by individuals, organizations, companies, and governments. In recent years, water activists have begun to deploy a new tool geared to shape these decisions. Long-established in legal jurisprudence, the public trust doctrine holds that certain natural resources belong to all and cannot be privately owned or controlled because of their intrinsic value to each individual and society.

Restoring The Trust: Water Resources & The Public Trust Doctrine, A Manual For Advocates, by CPR Member Scholar Alexandra Klass and Policy Analyst Yee Huang, explores the specific application of the public trust doctrine to the protection of surface water and groundwater resources. The Manual introduces water and environmental advocates to both the opportunities and limitations of applying the doctrine to water protection efforts and …

Sept. 28, 2009 by Ben Somberg
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

This just in: trying to stop climate change will cost the world about $50 trillion a year, but the impacts of climate change will only cost about $1 trillion a year, so the choice is clear! That's the thesis of Bjorn Lomborg's op-ed in Monday's Washington Post.

Presumably the flooding of much of Bangladesh doesn't count for much, since those lives are totally worth less than ours, etc.

Update: For more on this, see Joe Romm and Miles Grant.

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
April 4, 2013

Simpler Government, or Secret and Unaccountable Government?

April 1, 2013

Who Will Run the EPA?

March 13, 2013

Mancini 'Leads' OIRA as Deputy Administrator

March 11, 2013

There is Now No OIRA Administrator

Feb. 28, 2013

Robert Glicksman Testifies in House Hearing on Regulatory Policy

Jan. 11, 2013

CPR Report: Rise in Contract Labor Brings New Worker Safety Threats, Demands New Government Policies in Several Dangerous Industries

Nov. 26, 2012

Noah Sachs Op-Ed: Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act Would Further Politicize Rulemaking