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Oct. 25, 2018 by Alice Kaswan

Fresno Bee Op-Ed: Trump Rolls Back Clean Car Standards as Air Quality Worsens

This op-ed originally ran in the Fresno Bee.

Cities in the San Joaquin Valley continue to land among the American Lung Association's top 10 most polluted communities in the country. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the comment period closed on the Trump administration's plans to ratchet back federal emissions standards and eliminate California's authority to run its crucial car emissions programs. Although the administration has its eyes on greenhouse gas controls, what's at stake is California's ability to transition to low- and zero-emission vehicles, a transition essential to reducing the pollutants that threaten public health in California and elsewhere in the nation.

The federal government has the primary authority to set automobile pollution standards under the Clean Air Act. But Congress — recognizing California's serious air pollution challenges — stipulated that California is entitled to a "waiver" that lets the state set stricter standards, and which gives other states the option to follow California's standards. The Trump administration's proposal threatens to withdraw the 2013 waiver that authorized the current Clean Cars program.

The Clean Cars program is critical to addressing ozone levels — or smog as it is more commonly labeled. Ozone is a significant public health hazard, contributing to asthma, cardiovascular problems, and premature …

Oct. 22, 2018 by Katie Tracy
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The Trump administration has few plans to protect workers from emerging workplace health and safety hazards, according to the regulatory agenda released by the White House on October 16. This is nothing new for this administration, which has consistently neglected to take up worker protections, instead focusing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) resources on delaying and rolling back existing safeguards

Among the rules in OSHA's crosshairs, the agency plans to revoke a requirement for employers with 250 or more employees to electronically submit detailed logs of injuries and illnesses that occur at their establishments. The electronic reporting requirement for large firms is one piece of a 2016 rule finalized just before President Obama's term ended. The 2016 rule only sought to require establishments to submit injury and illness records that employers are already required to keep on site. But Trump's OSHA is basing its rollback …

Oct. 17, 2018 by James Goodwin
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The Trump administration's Fall 2018 regulatory agenda dropped late last night, and as with previous iterations of this preview of what's to come on the regulatory front, it is chock full of numbers – at least the kinds of numbers partisan ideologues and regulated industries care about. But what these numbers don't reveal are the kinds of things a decent society cares about. Basic things like how well we are protecting the health and welfare of children, for example.

Already, we have heard President Trump and various White House officials congratulate themselves for their large number of deregulatory actions, the relatively small number of "regulatory" actions, and net cost savings to industry. These numbers are worse than misleading; they're a diversion. They're a bogus benchmark that tells us nothing about the quality of the regulations themselves or how well the Trump administration is doing in terms of fulfilling …

Oct. 10, 2018 by Joseph Tomain
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This post is the second of a pair on the Trump administration's so-called "Affordable Clean Energy" (ACE) rule. You can read the first post here on CPRBlog. 

Industry Trends

In short, energy projections demonstrate a clear trend for clean energy and away from fossil fuels. These trends, directly and negatively, affect traditional electric utilities. About the time that rooftop solar financing was being consolidated by third parties such as SolarCity and Sunrun, utilities began to worry about a "death spiral." In such a scenario, customers would install solar rooftop panels, generate some or all of their electricity, and then either reduce their utility bills or, in some instances, sell their excess electricity back to the utility. To the extent that customers left the grid, the utility would have to recoup their fixed costs from a smaller customer base, thus increasing electricity prices and forcing more customers …

Oct. 8, 2018 by Joseph Tomain
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This post is the second of a pair on the Trump administration's so-called "Affordable Clean Energy" (ACE) rule. You can read the first post here on CPRBlog. 

Industry Trends

In short, energy projections demonstrate a clear trend for clean energy and away from fossil fuels. These trends, directly and negatively, affect traditional electric utilities. About the time that rooftop solar financing was being consolidated by third parties such as SolarCity and Sunrun, utilities began to worry about a "death spiral." In such a scenario, customers would install solar rooftop panels, generate some or all of their electricity, and then either reduce their utility bills or, in some instances, sell their excess electricity back to the utility. To the extent that customers left the grid, the utility would have to recoup their fixed costs from a smaller customer base, thus increasing electricity prices and forcing more customers …

Oct. 5, 2018 by Alejandro Camacho
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This op-ed originally ran in The Hill. It was co-authored with Melissa Kelly, the staff director and attorney at the Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources (CLEANR).

The bald eagle, sea otter, timber wolf — these iconic animals and more have been saved by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). But the Trump administration doesn't seem to care about our country's natural heritage. It's using questionable arguments about the popular law in an effort to gut protections and convert our public lands into private assets.

The administration's destructive intent is apparent in the proposed revisions to the ESA by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries. These changes appear to be aimed at providing more opportunities for business interests to influence conservation decisions. Indeed, the administration has proposed to turn the law on its head by allowing consideration of economic impacts in listing decisions, restricting …

Oct. 3, 2018 by Melissa Powers
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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 …

Oct. 1, 2018 by James Goodwin
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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
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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
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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 …

CPR HOMEPAGE
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Citizen Suits, Environmental Settlements, and the Constitution: Part I