The second segment of last night's Daily Show interview with David Axelrod featured a couple minutes on the broken regulatory system and questions of trust in government competence in the wake of the BP disaster.
Axelrod: "I think we've tested the proposition of what no regulation means, and what you get is .. the leak, the mine disaster in West Virginia, and you get an economic crisis."
OSHA’s pending rule on construction crane and derrick safety cleared OIRA review yesterday.
The cranes rule has been a long, long time in the making and was featured as a case study in our white paper last year on the Costs of Regulatory Delay. It’s good news that this life-saving rule is finally almost set.
Update: Celeste Monforton has more on this at The Pump Handle:
First, OIRA has completed its review of OSHA's final rule on cranes and derricks. The notation on the regs.gov website says "consistent with change," a phrase that has meaning only to those who have the secret decoder ring. Because the internal deliberations between OMB and the affected agency are considered confidential, (a policy dating back to OIRA's creation under President Reagan) we don't know whether the "change" required by OMB are good, bad or indifferent …
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is getting more and more attention. Here's some of the reporting out this week.
The latest from ProPublica and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
At least a half-dozen homebuilders, installers and environmental consultants knew as early as 2006 that foul smells were coming from drywall imported from China – but they didn’t share their early concerns with the public, even when homeowners began complaining about the drywall in 2008.
ProPublica teamed with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to put out an important investigative piece on drywall a few days ago -- "Tainted Chinese Drywall Concerns Went Unreported for Two Years."
The article, by Joaquin Sapien and Aaron Kessler, reports that:
A leading East Coast homebuilder learned four years ago that the Chinese-manufactured drywall it had installed in several Florida homes was emitting foul odors, according to documents obtained by ProPublica and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The company, WCI Communities, was so concerned that it started planning to tear out the material and rebuild the houses. But it never disclosed the problem to the bulk of its customers or to government authorities.
The evidence comes mainly through a series of emails between several companies in the building process. The article said the documents were from ongoing lawsuits; subsequent articles have said explicitly that the documents have been released by Victor Diaz …
The Albany Times Union had a nifty, if depressing, scoop over the weekend in "Paterson bottling up mercury ban at plant":
Efforts by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to ban mercury-tainted coal fly ash used by a Ravena cement plant have been bottled up for more than 19 months in a special regulations review office of Gov. David Paterson.
The DEC request to yank permission from Lafarge North America for ash use at its Route 9W plant has been sitting in the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform since October 2008, according to records obtained under the state Freedom of Information Act by the Times Union.
This isn't the first time we've heard about questionable regulatory review maneuvers in the Paterson administration; last August, the governor issued an executive order seeking to "eliminate unnecessary regulatory requirements" by "removing needless and excessive rules." Here in …
CPR Member Scholar Holly Doremus and fellow UC Berkeley School of Law Professor Eric Biber have penned an op-ed in today's LA Times arguing that the Administration's plan to split the Minerals Management Service in two in response to the BP oil spill disaster falls short of what's needed.
Write Doremus and Biber:
The political pressure to prioritize rapid development over safety won't evaporate if the MMS is split. The new safety agency would still be under the supervision of the Department of Interior, where it would have to compete with its bureaucratic sibling. Environmental and safety interests have been losing that competition for years. Giving them a new name and logo won't automatically change that outcome.
Second, environmental protection is not just a matter of enforcing a clear set of regulations as wells are being drilled or operated. The key environmental …
CPR President Rena Steinzor has issued this statement on today's coal ash news. She says:
Because EPA is actively considering these two very different approaches, it has not actually proposed anything from a regulatory perspective. The EPA will almost certainly have to go back and get another round of public comment before making a final decision, which is not what Jackson wanted when she walked into OIRA’s door. ... The White House has met with industry representatives on this issue literally dozens of times, and it's no surprise those meetings netted a delay. The administration could and should have moved ahead months ago with one strong proposal to tackle toxic coal ash.