Recent stories about "dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay are a reminder that despite progress on some water pollution fronts, we still have a serious problem to address. One politically popular approach to addressing the problem is a market-based solution, in which hard-to-regulate "non-point" pollution sources (farming, run-off, other sources without a "pollution pipe") and point sources engage in pollution-credit trades. So, for example, an industrial polluter might pay farmers to control run-off of fertilizer, thus reducing the flow of nutrients that cause dead zones. The interesting idea has been tried in some places, but has faltered because very few trades have actually been made, presumably because farmers lack incentive to overcome the challenges of striking deals and then implementing the pollution-control measures. It's just not their area of expertise.
In an op-ed published today in the Houston Chronicle, CPR Member Scholar and University of North Carolina law professor Victor Flatt proposes a novel solution: Independent third-party aggregators who would serve as "market makers." In Flatt's proposal, they would assume the risk of the transaction, making it easier for farmers to simply sign on the dotted line, follow a pollution-control plan, then cash …
At the Maryland Farm Bureau's Annual Convention today, Maryland Governor-Elect Larry Hogan vowed to fight against the state's proposed phosphorus management tool (PMT) regulations.
CPR President and University of Maryland law professor Rena Steinzor reacted to Hogan's comments, "It’s truly a shame that Governor-elect Hogan is indicating so early that he is willing to jeopardize the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay by rejecting pollution controls out of hand rather than working with scientists to improve them. As the Governor-elect will soon discover, farmers have an interest in minimizing the use of excess fertilizer because it is as expensive as it is unnecessary. Large animal feeding operations looking for a cheap way to dispose of manure by dumping it on the ground year round, even in the dead of winter, may have an economic interest in defeating these controls. But for the rest …
Today, the Baltimore Sun published an op-ed by CPR President Rena Steinzor and Public Justice Center attorney Sally Dworak-Fisher entitled, "Maryland's whistleblower laws need teeth."
According to the piece:
Whistleblowers can help identify and put a stop to all sorts of illegal activity, if they're properly protected. Dozens of state and federal laws include provisions intended to shield whistleblowers from retaliatory actions by employers who have been outed. But this piecemeal approach, with different laws enforced by different agencies, is too complicated and has too many holes.
To take the load off of overburdened state investigators, Marylanders need a new law that gives whistleblowers the right to sue employers who retaliate. A comprehensive law with that fail-safe mechanism would be an invaluable tool for promoting better practices at worksites across the state because it would encourage workers to raise red flags when their employers skirt the …
This week and next, CPR is using this space to highlight several key regulatory safeguards meant to ensure that the nation’s rivers, lakes, and streams are protected from damaging pollution—rules that are currently under development by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and included in our recent Issue Alert, Barack Obama’s Path to Progress in 2015-16: Thirteen Essential Regulatory Actions. Today’s post will highlight the pressing need to rein in stormwater pollution, while also examining some of the challenges the EPA must overcome as it drafts the rules by focusing on Maryland’s experience regulating the pollution source.
As rainwater flows over streets, parking lots, and rooftops and other impervious surfaces, it picks up a potent cocktail of pollutants that includes oil and grease from parking lots, pesticides and herbicides from lawns, and everything in between. This polluted stormwater makes its way through gutters …
Today the President addressed the Business Roundtable on the subject of regulation.
When speaking about revising current regulations, he spoke about the need to keep child labor laws.
According to CPR Executive Director Matt Shudtz:
The President was right to start his remarks with the clear examples of how strong (or to the business lobby, “costly”) regulations save lives and improve the environment. There are hundreds more where they came from, including our labor laws. That’s what makes his later statement about child labor laws so jarring. Keep in mind, this is the same president whose administration pulled back a proposal that would have saved kids from green tobacco poisoning and dangerous farm equipment. He needs to do more than keep the laws on the books—he needs to be moving forward with new rules that address the many hazards that are currently unregulated.
Over the next two weeks, CPR will publish a series of blog posts highlighting several key regulatory safeguards for protecting the integrity and health of U.S. water bodies against damaging pollution—rules that are currently under development by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and included in our recent Issue Alert, Barack Obama’s Path to Progress in 2015-16: Thirteen Essential Regulatory Actions. Today’s post will examine the clean water safeguard that has attracted perhaps the most vociferous opposition from industrial and agricultural polluters along with their antiregulatory allies in Congress: the EPA’s pending rule to clarify the definition of “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, which seeks to ensure that certain classes of critical water bodies—many of which are smaller and often overlooked—receive the statute’s full protections.
Given all the histrionics and overblown exaggerations from industry, it …
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Above all, CPR's staff and Member Scholars promote a positive and progressive vision for environmental policy and workers' rights. We need your support to continue that work.
Two days after the midterm elections, we released "Barack Obama's Path to Progress," an Issue Alert laying out an affirmative and politically realistic vision for real progress over the next two years. The Alert identifies 13 essential regulatory actions that the President can and should finish before he leaves office, steps that allow him to save thousands of lives, lock in significant environmental gains, and leave a solid legacy on the regulatory front. Importantly, finalizing these rules is entirely within the province of the Executive Branch, so …
Today is the deadline for comments from the public on EPA's proposed rule to limit carbon emission from existing power plants.
CPR Member Scholar and University of North Carolina School of Law professor Victor Flatt submitted a comment on the rule.
According to his comments:
What I would like to focus on is suggesting that the agency definitively interpret Section 111(d) to allow states to utilize a greenhouse gas market reduction strategy that allows greenhouse gas reductions to come from any source.
Section 111(d) specifies that the Best System of Emissions Reduction adopted by a state be modeled on the CAA’s section 110, which governs the State Implementation Plans (SIPS). While the EPA has not had cause to consider the direct meaning of this before, I believe that it means that 111(d) provides a hybrid sort of emissions reduction based on proposed …