This op-ed was originally published in The Virginia Mercury.
The U.S. Senate faces a long to-do list when it reconvenes next month.
U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Fairfax, wants to be sure an important but fairly obscure environmental health bill makes the list.
It passed the House in July, thanks in part to Democratic members of our congressional delegation, and now awaits action in the upper chamber. “The Senate must take action,” Connolly told me by email.
The legislation would regulate and clean up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of toxins linked to cancer, infertility and other serious health problems. One such problem is compromised immunity, which may reduce the effectiveness of COVID vaccines — just as the delta variant surges across the state.
This bill is urgently needed in Northern Virginia — a reported PFAS “hot spot.”
Used in tape, nonstick pans and other everyday items, these “forever chemicals” — so called because they build up in the blood — have been found in higher levels in NOVA’s drinking water than in other parts of the Washington, D.C., area, according to recent news reports. Levels in Prince William and Fairfax Counties were especially high.
The Virginia Department of …
Intersectional environmentalism is a relatively new phrase that refers to a more inclusive form of environmentalism, one that ties anti-racist principles into sectors that have long profited from overlooking or ignoring historically disenfranchised populations.
According to youth activist Leah Thomas, “It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the earth, to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality. Intersectional environmentalism advocates for justice for people and the planet.”
Nearly 20 years ago, the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) was founded on a vision that government could be reimagined and reformed so that it serves all people — regardless of income, background, race, or religion — and our planet. Intersectional environmentalism is that vision: thriving communities on a resilient planet.
This post was originally published by the Yale Journal on Regulation's Notice & Comment blog. Reprinted with permission.
Every President since Jimmy Carter has called on agencies to make retrospective reviews of their regulations. President Clinton’s Executive Order 12866 required agencies to create a program of periodic review of existing significant regulations. More recently both Presidents Obama in E.O. 13563 and Trump in E.O. 13771 likewise have required agencies to engage in retrospective reviews. Numerous commentators, not the least of which is Professor and former OIRA director Cass Sunstein, have extolled the potential value of retrospective reviews. And the Administrative Conference of the United States has issued recommendations providing support for agencies to review their existing regulations. Indeed, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires agencies to make a retrospective review of 10-year-old regulations that “have a significant economic impact upon a substantial number …
Amidst the president and First Lady testing positive for COVID-19, an embarrassing spectacle of a presidential "debate," and a pandemic that has now claimed more than 200,000 lives in the United States and 1 million worldwide, the West Coast wildfires have lost the attention of the national news cycle. But California and nearby states are still very much ablaze.
As I write, 70 active large fires are raging in 10 western states. More than a third of these are in California, where more than 2 million acres of land are currently burning (an area larger than the state of Delaware). Four of the five largest fires in the state’s history started in the last two months.
These historic fires have already killed at least 35 people, forced thousands to evacuate, and exposed hundreds of thousands to extremely hazardous levels of fine particulate matter, or …
June 1 marked the start of hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin. While not welcome, tropical storms, strong winds, and storm surges are an inevitable fact of life for many residents of the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf Coast. As a new paper from the Center for Progressive Reform explains, with those storms can come preventable toxic flooding with public health consequences that are difficult to predict or control.
In Ernest Hemingway’s 1970 novel, Islands in the Stream, he wrote of his protagonist, Thomas Hudson, “He knew how to plot storms and the precautions that should be taken against them. He knew too what it was to live through a hurricane with the other people of the island and the bond that the hurricane made between all people who had been through it.”
Only Hemingway could romanticize hurricanes. And things have only gotten worse. Last month …
Originally published on Legal Planet. Reprinted with permission.
If we get a vaccine against a national epidemic, could Congress pass a law requiring everyone to get vaccinated? That very question was asked during the Supreme Court argument in the 2012 constitutional challenge to Obamacare’s individual mandate. The lawyer challenging Obamacare said, “No, Congress couldn’t do that.”
What’s shocking is that this may have been the correct answer. Conservatives on the Supreme Court have curtailed Congress’s ability to legislate about anything other than economic transactions, and an epidemic is not an economic transaction.
JUSTICE BREYER: I’m just picking on something. I’d like to just — if it turned out there was some terrible epidemic sweeping the United States, and we couldn’t say that more than 40 or 50 percent . . . — you’d say the Federal …
This post was co-authored by Kevin Morris, a J.D. candidate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law. He serves as a research assistant for Maxine Burkett. This post was originally published by the Wilson Center's New Security Beat.
In Alaska's arctic communities, Inuit contemplating the need to relocate have reported that the loss of sea ice would make them feel like they are lost or going crazy. Zika and other vector-borne diseases have been a concern primarily for people in the southeastern United States. Recent research on the long-range internal migration of people from the coasts to the interior suggests a broader national concern regarding "climate augmentation" of disease. These are just two examples of the many public health effects we can expect as climate change forces people to uproot themselves.
In the future …
Climate change is having significant effects on the ocean. Sea levels are rising. The ocean is becoming warmer, and because the ocean absorbs chemically reactive carbon dioxide, its pH is dropping. Hurricanes, typhoons, and other coastal storms are becoming stronger on average. Marine species are on the move, generally shifting toward the poles and, to a lesser extent, deeper. Coral reefs are dying.
Clearly, the climate impacts on the ocean are cause for concern. Between 2013 and 2016, the ocean along United States' west coast experienced a three-year surge of hot water that National Geographic dubbed "The Blob that Cooked the Pacific." Perhaps most fittingly, on Halloween 2018, Nature published a new study indicating that the ocean is warming 60 percent more per year than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had projected.
So, yes, there is cause for serious concern. And it's not …