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.

CPR Perspective: The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment

CPR Perspective: 'The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment,' by Bill Funk. CPR's Perspectives Series is a set of monographs by CPR Member Scholars on timely and important health, safety, and environmental topics. Each Perspective provides a thumbnail sketch of the competing arguments concerning a substantive or procedural principle for developing appropriate health, safety and environmental policies, and closes with the Member Scholar-author's proposed approach to the issue.

Type: Reports (Jan. 1, 2005)
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Author(s): Bill Funk
Maryland Water Standards a Quarter Century Late and Counting

On the Center for American Progress website, Rena Steinzor writes that Maryland's Department is moving "ever so glacially toward developing enforceable standards for a key provision of the Clean Water Act."

Type: Op-Eds (Dec. 15, 2004)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
The Feasibility Principle

The Feasibility Principle, by David Driesen, first in a series of papers outline alternatives to cost-benefit analysis. White Paper 407, December 2004.

Type: Reports (Dec. 15, 2004)
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Author(s): David Driesen
States Fail to Ensure Water Quality

Clifford Rechtschaffen, writing on the Center for American Progress website: "The federal government relies in great measure on state agencies to enforce many of the key provisions of the Clean Water Act, including the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), a system by which polluters are issued permits to emit specific quantities of pollution into waterways. The sorry truth is that the system doesn't work very well, and enforcement of NPDES provisions is inadequate. That's the conclusion I'm forced to draw from a survey of state environmental protection agencies I conducted earlier this year."

Type: Op-Eds (Nov. 17, 2004)
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Author(s): Clifford Rechtschaffen
Tort Law, Texas Style

On the Center for American Progress website, Douglas Kysar writes that "Conservative lawmakers and right-wing policy institutes would have us believe that one of the most pressing issues facing the nation today is the problem of 'regulation through litigation.' Across the country, power-hungry officials are said to be conspiring with greedy lawyers and activist judges to pursue regulatory agendas that have not, or could not, be successfully achieved through legislative channels. Given this relentless conservative refrain, it was surprising to learn that the latest example of 'regulation through litigation' was launched by Cornyn's successor as Texas state attorney general, Greg Abbott...."

Type: Op-Eds (Oct. 20, 2004)
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Author(s): Douglas Kysar
Regulatory Underkill: The Bush Administration's Insidious Dismantling of Public Health and Environmental Protections

Regulatory Underkill: The Bush Administration's Insidious Dismantling of Public Health and Environmental Protections, by William Buzbee, Robert Glicksman, Sidney Shapiro, and Karen Sokol. White Paper 406, October 2004.

Type: Reports (Oct. 13, 2004)
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Author(s): William Buzbee, Robert Glicksman, Sidney Shapiro, Karen Sokol
Responsible Regulation Sabotaged

Writing on the Center for American Progress website, Sophisticated Sabotage authors Sidney Shapiro and Thomas McGarity observe that because landmark environmental, health and safety laws are broadly supported by the public, "polluting industries have sought to stymie regulation in ways that hide their efforts."

Type: Op-Eds (Sept. 22, 2004)
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Author(s): Sidney Shapiro, Thomas McGarity
Comments on Volatile Organic Compounds in paint, responding to industry Information Quality Act request

CPR's Sidney Shapiro and Rena Steinzor's August 3, 2004 response to the paint industry's Information Quality Act challenge to state rules on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint: "Wrong in principle, wrong on the law, and wrong on the facts."

Type: Letters to Agencies (Aug. 3, 2004)
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Author(s): Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor, Margaret Giblin
A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment

Over the last quarter century, much of the focus of federal regulatory policy in the areas of health, safety, and the environment has been gradually redirected away from protecting Americans against various harms and toward protecting corporate interests from the plain meaning of protective statutes. This book delivers precisely what its title promises, a re-imagining of federal policy in these areas, with particular focus on the regulatory process. It identifies the failings of the current approach to regulation and proposes innovative, straightforward, and practical solutions for the 21st Century. The 2004, A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment, was a seminal collaboration among the Member Scholars of the Center for Progressive Reform (then called the Center for Progressive Regulation).

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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Christopher Schroeder
Try Not to Breathe!

Writing on AlterNet, Catherine O'Neill observes that " Scant attention has been given to the Bush administration's embrace of risk avoidance as the supposed 'solution' to public health hazards and environmental contamination." She makes the case that the burden to avoid unhealthy exposure to pollution should not fall on individuals, but rather on polluters -- but someone needs to explain that to the Bush administration.

Type: Op-Eds (July 12, 2004)
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Author(s): Catherine O'Neill

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