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Aug. 30, 2018 by Rena Steinzor

The Hill Op-Ed: Brett Kavanaugh's Opportunistic Corner Cutting

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 of significance and his colleagues have rightly called him out for this professionally dubious behavior. The three examples have to do with administrative law, his specialty, and an area where he will try to lead the Supreme Court if confirmed.

Read the full op-ed in The Hill.

Aug. 30, 2018 by Joel Mintz
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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 …

Aug. 9, 2018 by Joel Mintz
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This op-ed originally ran in The Hill.

Federal laws and regulations play a crucial role determining the quality of our air, water, and natural resources. Well-researched and scientifically supported rules can bring enormous benefits to the American people, but regulatory rollbacks for little more than deregulation's sake can cause great harm.

One example of the potential damage that a poorly crafted regulation may cause is the new proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to roll back a requirement that automobile manufacturers improve vehicle fuel efficiency in the first half of the 2020s. With the rise of wind and solar energy, and the ongoing shift from coal-fired to natural-gas-fired power plants, motor vehicles are now the leading U.S. source of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change — along with other harmful air pollutants. If left in place, the …

Aug. 6, 2018 by Daniel Farber
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Cross-posted from LegalPlanet.

Trump is proposing to gut CO2 standards for cars, freezing 2020 CAFE fuel-efficiency standards in place for years to come. Without the freeze, the standards would automatically ramp up. He also wants to eliminate California's ability to set its own standards, which many other states have opted to adopt. Here are seven key questions about Trump's proposed rollback and some answers.

Do the car companies really want this?

A: Not so much. It's not that they love being regulated. But the big downside for the car companies is regulatory uncertainty. Putting out a new car model costs $1-6 billion and takes 2½ to 3 years. Trump's rollback is going to be tied up in court for at least a year, maybe two, even assuming it's ultimately upheld. In the meantime, manufacturers won't be able to plan for post-2020 models. The manufacturers don't need this …

Aug. 2, 2018 by Joel Mintz
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This op-ed originally ran in the Miami Herald.

The forced resignation of Scott Pruitt as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brought celebration and relief in many quarters. Pruitt was a walking scandal machine who generated an endless stream of headlines about spending abuses, cozy relationships with industry lobbyists, first-class travel at government expense, and aides asked to perform personal tasks, including buying lotions and mattresses and unsuccessfully helping his wife land a Chick-fil-A franchise.

Of more lasting consequence, he loyally adhered to the extreme, anti-environmental policies of his boss, President Trump. So, while Pruitt's departure was good news for anyone who's serious about public corruption, it remains to be seen whether it will have any impact on environmental policy.

Pruitt initiated a massive rollback of EPA regulations. He openly questioned the well-established science of climate change, and he presided over the dismantling of …

Aug. 1, 2018 by Matt Shudtz
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Andrew Wheeler will be on the hot seat today when he heads to Capitol Hill for his first appearance before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as Acting Administrator of the EPA. Senators initially scheduled the hearing when Scott Pruitt was Administrator and his ethical problems had reached such epic proportions that his party's support was starting to erode.

With Pruitt out and Wheeler in, today's hearing has the potential to be more about environmental policy than conflicts of interest and failures of management – a welcome change. We will be following closely to see if Andrew Wheeler will be as committed to these four retrograde policies as Scott Pruitt was:

The one-two punch of Pruitt's proposals to censor science and warp environmental economics. It is no wonder morale at EPA plummeted. There was a time when a person could make a career at EPA by building …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Oct. 5, 2020

We Need to Better Protect Communities from the Climate Crisis, COVID-19, and Wildfires

Sept. 24, 2020

Citizen Suits Are Good for the Regulatory System, and We Need More of Them

Sept. 22, 2020

Fighting Global Warming in a Chilly Judicial Climate

Sept. 17, 2020

Pandemic Spawns Dangerous Relaxation of Environmental Regulations

Sept. 16, 2020

The Pandemic's Toll on Science

Sept. 15, 2020

Citizen Suits, Environmental Settlements, and the Constitution: Part II

Sept. 14, 2020

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