The EPA announced this morning that it has finalized numeric nutrient criteria for Florida waters -- specific limits on the amounts of nutrient pollutants allowed in the state's water bodies. These criteria will in turn limit discharges by point and non-point sources. Currently, nutrient limits are set only by "narrative" water quality standards -- which have little teeth.
The EPA agreed last year to set the limits following a consent decree reached after a coalition of environmental groups sued the agency. Yee Huang explained in this space why the plan could be a huge step toward cleaning Florida's waters, and could help set a precedent for other states.
Affected industries and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have lobbied hard against the EPA plan. The White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs hosted a meeting on the issue back in January, and another meeting in late October (Greenwire reported a second recent meeting, with environmental groups, though it is not currently listed on the OIRA website).
The EPA went ahead with announcing the plan today. It did say that the standards won't take effect for 15 months, and it will "work closely with the state to determine …
In a post the other week, Celeste Monforton at The Pump Handle gives a great example of health/safety protection being evaluated the wrong way ("Contractor racks up mine safety violations and unpaid penalties, also wins safety awards.") Monforton points to a large construction company that seems to be collecting safety awards while simultaneously being cited for numerous safety violations (and in January, an employee was killed at a work site).
Sure, whether workers sustain an injury is something to pay attention to, no doubt. But, with some employers' policies that discourage injury reporting, workers' reticence about telling their boss about a chronic work-related health problems, or workers' comp rules that compel workers to return to work before they are fully healed, lost-time injury rates alone don't cut it.
Laws like the Occupational Safety and Health Act set out goals; to what extent are …
Tomorrow, Thursday, the American Constitution Society will host a midday panel discussion about the issues and ideas presented in Regulating from Nowhere: Environmental Law and the Search for Objectivity, by CPR Member Scholar Douglas A. Kysar. The panel includes CPR Board Member Amy Sinden.
Drawing insight from a diverse array of sources, including moral philosophy, political theory, cognitive psychology, ecology, and science and technology studies, Kysar offers a new theoretical basis for understanding environmental law and policy. He exposes a critical flaw in the dominant policy paradigm of risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis, which asks policymakers to, in essence, “regulate from nowhere.”
The event is free and open to the public. Details are here. Please join us!
CPR Member Scholar Daniel Farber and Richard Frank, both of BerkeleyLaw, have an op-ed in the LA Times today on Proposition 23, the ballot initiative that would suspsend California's climate law, AB 32. They argue:
For California to retreat on the climate issue now would send a defeatist message nationally and worldwide. It's true that other climate measures would remain on the books, but suspending AB 32 would be like benching a football team's quarterback while leaving the other players leaderless on the field.
A new CPR white paper today argues that the BP oil spill and its attendant environmental and economic harm were entirely preventable, and indeed, would have been avoided had government regulators over the years been pushed and empowered by determined leadership and given sufficient resources to enforce the law.
The paper, Regulatory Blowout: How Regulatory Failures Made the BP Disaster Possible, and How the System Can Be Fixed to Avoid a Recurrence (press release), examines the performance of multiple regulatory agencies, most conspicuously, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), since reorganized and rebranded as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE).
Among the recommendations:
Two items of note tomorrow in the Chesapeake Bay realm:
We’ll be keeping an eye on them and have more on these items tomorrow.
The toxic drywall issue has been relatively quiet in the press for some time now. Some guy in Manatee County FL looks to be trying to flip a few contaminated houses (unclear how much he's repairing them). Habitat for Humanity had a drywall problem in New Orleans. No real big announcements from CPSC of late.
The Times came back to the drywall issue on Saturday, though, and found that the situation remains fairly bleak for many affected homeowners:
But so far the relief has been negligible. Most insurance companies have yet to pay a dime. Only a handful of home builders have stepped forward to replace the tainted drywall. Help offered by the government — like encouraging lenders to suspend mortgage payments and reducing property taxes on damaged homes — has not addressed the core problem of replacing the drywall. And Chinese manufacturers have argued that United States …