Regulatory Policy

Regulatory safeguards play a vital role in protecting us from hazards and ensuring that companies that pollute, make unsafe products, and create workplace hazards bear the cost of cleaning up their messes and preventing injuries and deaths. Still, the regulatory system is far from perfect: Rules take too long to develop; enforcement is often feeble; and political pressure from regulated industries has led to weak safeguards.

These systemic problems are made all the more severe by the determination of the Trump administration to undercut sensible safeguards across virtually all aspects of federal regulation. Moreover, the President and his team have taken aim at the the process by which such safeguards are developed, aiming to take a system already slanted in favor of industry profit at the expense of health, safety and the environment, and make it even less protective. For example, where critics of the use of cost-benefit analysis see a system that understates the value of safeguards and overstates the cost of implementing them -- making it difficult to adopt needed protections -- the Trump administration seeks simply to ignore benefits of safeguards, pretending they do not exist. The result is a regulatory system that fails to enforce landmark laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and more.

CPR exposes and opposes efforts by opponents of sensible safeguards to undermine the regulatory system, fighting back against knee-jerk opposition to environmental, health, and safety protections. Below, see what CPR Members Scholars and staff have had to say in reports, testimony, op-eds and more. Use the search box to narrow the list.

The DACA Decision and the Rule of Law

Writing for The Hill, William Buzbee describes the implications of the Supreme Court's ruling against the Trump administration's gutting of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Dreamers) program. "The court majority, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, rejected the Trump administration's brazen efforts to evade judicial scrutiny, while also strengthening the regulatory rule of law fundamentals that the administration has flouted with regularity. This ruling will become central to dozens of pending battles over other Trump regulatory rollbacks," he writes.

Type: Op-Eds (June 30, 2020)
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Author(s): William Buzbee
The Trump Administration’s Pandemic Response is Structured to Fail

Writing for the Regulatory Review, CPR Member Scholars Alejandro Camacho and Robert Glicksman describe the structural failings of the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Type: Op-Eds (May 19, 2020)
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Author(s): Alejandro Camacho, Robert Glicksman
Comments on EPA 'Censored Science' Rule

In comments to the EPA on its proposed 'Censored Science' rule, CPR's Goodwin and Minovi write, "EPA’s rulemaking rejects widely accepted scientific standards and will allow the agency to cherry-pick studies that align with the administration’s agenda ... [and] will be prohibitively costly to the agency, both in terms of taxpayer dollars and the unnecessary and avoidable harms to public health and the environment. Furthermore, the EPA has incorrectly identified ... the legal authority for this rulemaking."

Type: Letters to Agencies (May 18, 2020)
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Author(s): James Goodwin, Darya Minovi
Opinion analysis: The Justices' purpose-full reading of the Clean Water Act

Writing for SCOTUSBlog, CPR's Lisa Heinzerling discusses the Supreme Court's April 2020 ruling in a Clean Water Act case from Hawaii. The ruling requires a permit when a point source of pollution adds pollutants to navigable waters through groundwater, if the addition of pollutants is "the functional equivalent of a direct discharge" from the source into navigable waters. She writes that "Perhaps the most striking feature of Justice Stephen Breyer's opinion for the majority is its interpretive method. The opinion reads like something from a long-ago period of statutory interpretation, before statutory decisions regularly made the central meaning of complex laws turn on a single word or two and banished legislative purpose to the interpretive fringes."

Type: Op-Eds (April 23, 2020)
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Author(s): Lisa Heinzerling
Censored Science Rule Virtual Hearing Testimony

Testifying at a virtual hearing hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, James Goodwin laid bare the feeble legal underpinnings of EPA's "censored science" rule.

Type: Letters to Agencies (April 14, 2020)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
Virus provides lessons on government, science and politics

Joseph Tomain, writing in the Cincinnati Enquirer, discusses lessons to be learned -- so far -- from the coronavirus pandemic.

Type: Op-Eds (April 13, 2020)
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Author(s): Joseph Tomain
Deregulation on Demand: Trump EPA Panders to Polluters in Dismantling Clean Power Plan

Corporate capture of regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency has long been a barrier to promulgation and enforcement of effective safeguards. But under the Trump administration, it has progressed to a dizzying degree of brazenness, helping to power the president’s dangerous assault on public safeguards. In Deregulation on Demand, CPR's James Goodwin, working with researchers from the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, documents the extent to which corporate capture by polluters played a role in the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan.

Type: Reports (April 9, 2020)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
The Pandemic and Industry Opportunism

Writing for The Regulatory Review, Rena Steinzor notes that in March 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic in full swing, EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine issued a memo offering businesses assurance that EPA would overlook certain regulatory violations for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Public interest groups roundly criticized the new policy, prompting EPA to cry "fake news."

Type: Op-Eds (April 8, 2020)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
Trump's EPA Uses Coronavirus Crisis to Mask Environmental Deregulation and Suspend Enforcement

Writing on ACSBlog, Joel Mintz describes the several ways that the Trump EPA has seized on the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to undercut a range of environmental protections.

Type: Op-Eds (April 7, 2020)
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Author(s): Joel Mintz
Joint Letter on Coronavirus and Environmental Justice

CPR joined dozens of environmental and social justice organizations in writing to Congress urging that legislation responsive to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic account for environmental justice concerns.

Type: Legislative Testimony (March 31, 2020)
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