GlobalWarming_wide.jpg
Oct. 3, 2018 by Melissa Powers

The Trump Administration's Acknowledgement of Climate Change Is Cynical -- and Potentially Sinister

As Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis, and Chris Mooney of The Washington Post reported on September 27, the Trump administration seems to finally be acknowledging that climate change is real. But the motivation for recognizing that reality is cynical, at best, so rather than proposing doing something – anything – about climate change, the administration concludes we shouldn't bother trying. 

Buried in a 500-page justification for a rule that would prevent California (and, by extension, other states) from regulating emissions of greenhouse gases from new vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that any regulation of greenhouse gases would be futile because climate models show that global temperatures will increase by up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit no matter how the United States behaves. 

For years, many conservatives have denied that climate change is real and that humans have caused climate change by burning fossil fuels. Even as global temperatures have climbed to unprecedented levels, ice sheets have begun to fracture, hurricanes have become stronger and wetter, and droughts and wildfires have become increasingly prevalent, conservatives have pushed back against any link between fossil fuels and our changing climate – all in service of making sure we do nothing about it. 

Donald Trump …

Oct. 1, 2018 by James Goodwin
WHouseGreySkies.jpg

Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the issuance of Executive Order 12866, but it was hardly a happy occasion. For all intents and purposes, though, the order, which governs the process by which federal agencies develop regulations under the supervision of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), is dead. Despite all the glowing praise over the years and all the exaltations of its supposed durability, its health had been in decline for several years. It was just a matter of time before something like the Trump administration came along and put the final nail in its coffin. 

The precise date of Executive Order 12866's demise was January 30, 2017. On that day, recently inaugurated President Donald Trump issued what was in effect its death warrant, Executive Order 13771

According to its defenders, Executive Order 12866 was all about promoting better regulation, and it …

Sept. 20, 2018 by Laurie Ristino
usda-bldg-wide.jpg

Donald Trump has, in a sense, made good on his promise to "drain" Washington, D.C. – but not in the way many people probably thought he would. The exodus from our nation's capital has been made up of the scientists, diplomats, and policy experts that a democracy needs to function, not the high-powered, special interest lobbyists voters likely had in mind. Meanwhile, a raft of grifters has gleefully taken a temporary perch in the executive branch. The ensuing debacles, scandals, and assaults on safeguards and agencies have made it stunningly clear how critical a competent, public interest-focused executive branch is to our country's well-being.

One recent example of Trump's war on federal agencies is Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue's surprise announcement last month that he planned to reorganize the Economic Research Service (ERS), an independent economic research agency. Perdue's announcement was a shock to ERS …

Sept. 4, 2018 by Matt Shudtz
supreme-court-sunny-wide.jpg

Today, D.C. Circuit Court Judge and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh begins his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite the disturbing lack of transparency around his service to the country during the George W. Bush administration, the show will go on.

We asked CPR's Member Scholars and staff what they would ask Judge Kavanaugh if they had the opportunity. Here are some highlights:

You Can't Put a Price on Everything

Ask a parent what they would pay to end the suffering of an asthmatic child, or a miner with black lung disease what he would pay to live life unencumbered by an oxygen tank. There is no meaningful answer – the opportunity to live a healthy life is priceless. Yet your opinion in White Stallion Energy Center v. EPA suggests that monetizing these sorts of regulatory benefits ought to be standard practice for all regulatory …

Aug. 30, 2018 by Rena Steinzor
LawBooks_wide.jpg

This op-ed originally ran in The Hill.

Tens of thousands of thoughtful — and not so thoughtful — words have been written about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s substantive positions on issues the court will face. At least one question has not been addressed, however: Is Judge Brett Kavanaugh so ideological about certain topics that he veers toward sloppiness?

As a law professor, I spend a lot of time around first-year law students, introducing them to the professional standards that define a good lawyer. My advice includes three things they must never do: ignore inconvenient language in a law to distort its meaning; rocket off on tangents that have little to do with the subject at hand; and cite one law to support a conclusion in another area to which it does not apply.

Kavanaugh has done all three things in D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals opinions …

Aug. 30, 2018 by Joel Mintz
air-pollution-power-lines-wide.jpg

This story was originally published by The Revelator.

In his first 19 months in office, Donald Trump has repeatedly defied established presidential norms — so flagrantly that it almost obscures the many ways he's changed national policies for the worse. But despite all the scandals and mean-spirited tweets, it's likely that his most enduring impact will be his administration's systematic, reckless dismantling of ongoing efforts to curtail human-caused climate change.

The miseries of global climate disruption are already upon us. During the current decade, the world has experienced record heat waves, as well as intermittent periods of extraordinary cold, devastating floods, prolonged droughts, dangerous wildfires and large and powerful hurricanes. Despite these alarm bells and urgent warnings from scientists around the globe, the volume of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by human activity has continued to rise each year.

One clear example of …

Aug. 29, 2018 by Alice Kaswan
CoalPlant_mercury_wide.jpg

For disadvantaged communities, the so-called Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE) falls far short of the protections and opportunities included in the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration rule that the Trump EPA is now attempting to repeal and replace.

One of the Clean Power Plan's (CPP) essential features was its recognition that the electricity sector operates as an interconnected system. Because of its system-wide approach, the CPP could achieve significant reductions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants by encouraging utilities to shift from pollution-intensive coal to less-polluting alternatives, including natural gas and renewables. In contrast, the ACE rule focuses narrowly on coal-fired power plants, considering only facility-specific "heat-rate improvements," thus sacrificing a host of other ways to both conserve energy and prevent pollution. The proposed rule also fails to prompt states to engage in the more comprehensive and longer-term planning that is necessary to achieve significant …

Aug. 28, 2018 by Daniel Farber
power-plant-power-lines-wide.jpg

Cross-posted from LegalPlanet.

You've already heard a lot about Trump's pro-coal ACE rule. You're likely to keep hearing about it, off and on, throughout the next couple of years, and maybe longer. I've set out a rough timetable below, and at the end I discuss some implications.

Step 1: The Rulemaking 

Aug. 2018 Notice of proposed rule issued (clock for comments starts with publication in the Federal Register)

Oct.-Nov. 2018 Comment period closes (60 days after clock starts, unless there are extensions)

Feb.-March 2019 EPA issues final rule (based on time between the advance notice of proposed rule and the actual proposal; could be longer)

Step 2: Judicial Review

Aug.-Sept. 2019 Oral argument in D.C. Cir. (based on scheduling in Clean Power Plan case for three-judge panel argument) The big issue in the case will be whether EPA is limited, as the Trump …

Aug. 15, 2018 by James Goodwin
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

Earlier this week, 19 Member Scholars with the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that provide a detailed legal and policy critique of the agency's "benefits-busting" rulemaking. 

Since early July, EPA has been accepting feedback on an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) that could lead to a complete overhaul of how the agency performs cost-benefit analysis on its environmental and public health rules. Consistent with other anti-safeguard moves the Trump EPA has made, this overhaul would further rig an already rigged system for conducting these analyses. The plainly intended result would be to make it harder to justify needed public protections by putting an industry-friendly thumb on the scale. 

As the CPR Member Scholars explain, the real danger is that EPA could try to use this rulemaking to institute a one-size-fits-all "supermandate" requiring all agency decision-making to be conducted …

Aug. 14, 2018 by Katie Tracy
Accident_Workplace_wide.jpg

The Trump administration has aggressively sought to undermine public safeguards since taking office, all under the guise of making America great (again?). Nowhere has this been more evident than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where Trump appointees have sought to attack most every standard adopted during the Obama era, as well as long-standing analytical procedures (see here and here) designed to ensure any new standards are evidence-based and scientifically sound. These attacks do not stop at EPA, however. Trump has also undermined worker protections at every turn. 

At the end of July, Trump's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed to roll back an Obama-era rule finalized in May 2016 to improve tracking of worker injuries and illnesses by requiring employers to electronically submit certain records to the agency. The final rule did not ask employers to document additional information than is already required under existing recordkeeping …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
May 4, 2022

Clarifying the Congressional Review Act

April 25, 2022

Biden Undoes NEPA Rollback

July 20, 2021

The Specter of Dictatorship Behind the Unitary Executive Theory

March 2, 2021

Recalculating the Cost of Climate Change

Feb. 23, 2021

The Hill Op-ed: Biden Has the Power to Restore Good Governance

Jan. 25, 2021

The Controversial Congressional Review Act

Jan. 20, 2021

The Era of 'Small Government' Must End: Reflections on the Capitol Insurrection