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May 4, 2016 by Brian Gumm

New Paper: Americans Hurt By Forced Arbitration Agreements with Big Banks, Credit Card Companies

NEWS RELEASE: New Paper Shows Americans Hurt By Forced Arbitration Agreements with Big Banks, Credit Card Companies

Forthcoming Rule from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Offers Some Solutions, but More Can Be Done to Protect Consumers

Opening a checking account or using a credit card is an essential, everyday activity for many Americans, but most financial services are governed by pages of fine print, much of which is difficult to navigate and understand. As a new paper from the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) shows, these contracts often contain forced arbitration clauses that severely restrict consumer rights and frustrate corporate accountability. 

The CPR paper, Regulating Forced Arbitration in Consumer Financial Services: Re-Opening the Courthouse Doors to Victimized Consumers, is being released the day before a widely anticipated proposed rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). CPR and other consumer protection experts expect the proposal to restrict the use of forced arbitration clauses in financial services agreements. 

"Using financial services like credit cards and loans should not mean giving up basic legal rights," said Martha McCluskey, Member Scholar at the Center for Progressive Reform and a contributing author of the paper. "What most Americans don't realize is that many of …

April 21, 2016 by Brian Gumm
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Lisa Heinzerling, a Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and Georgetown University Professor of Law, published a piece this week on The Conversation that explores the ongoing political debate over environmental regulations. 

In particular, Heinzerling calls out the often misleading claims about the costs of safeguards that protect our air, water, health, and wild places: 

Specifically, the 2010 Small Business Administration regulatory costs study misinterpreted a World Bank database and drew unsupportable conclusions from it. The study also included the costs of rules that did not exist because either agencies or courts pulled them back. It relied on a 1974 study by the National Association of Manufacturers to estimate the cost of workplace safety regulations today, and double-counted rules in estimating costs. 

Even when performed more carefully, estimates of regulatory costs have often proved too high. For example, the actual costs of the national emissions trading program …

April 13, 2016 by Brian Gumm
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NEWS RELEASE: New Paper Showcases Best Practices for Protecting, Empowering Vulnerable Gulf Coast Communities in the Face of Climate Change

Most Americans understand the importance of curbing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent a climate catastrophe in the future. But many communities are already feeling the effects of our warming planet. Impacts on the Gulf Coast are particularly challenging. In a new paper released today, the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) highlights recommendations and best practices for protecting and empowering vulnerable communities as they adapt to climate change. The release comes ahead of an April 15 forum in New Orleans on risk reduction strategies for Louisiana coastal areas. 

The paper, Climate Change, Resilience, and Fairness: How Nonstructural Adaptation Can Protect and Empower Socially Vulnerable Communities on the Gulf Coast, explains that many communities in the region are intimately tied to the area's environment and rich natural resources …

April 8, 2016 by Brian Gumm
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On April 6, U.S. District Court Judge Irene Berger sentenced former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to one year in jail and a $250,000 fine for conspiring to violate federal health and safety standards at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia. The mine exploded and killed 29 miners in April 2010. 

In an April 7 New York Times op-ed, CPR Member Scholar Rena Steinzor, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, explained the significance of Blankenship's conviction and sentence and what it portends for other top managers and CEOs: 

"The first C.E.O. ever to be convicted of conspiring to violate industrial safety standards will soon take his place in prison. 

"The sentence is noteworthy, however, not because of the law, but in spite of it. The Mine Safety and Health Act, the statute …

March 31, 2016 by Brian Gumm
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When it comes to public health, the environment, and social justice, Americans are facing a host of challenges that call out for comprehensive, national solutions. Whether it's climate change, threats to water resources like the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes, or serious injuries and deaths in the workplace, how we respond as a nation has direct impacts on our everyday lives.

Strong standards and effective enforcement of our laws and regulations are key to protecting our health and environment, and the next presidential administration and Congress will determine if and how agencies like EPA and OSHA rise to the occasion. The University of Pennsylvania Law School will examine these issues and more when it hosts a panel discussion in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 5 titled, "The Next Five Years in Regulation: An Election Year Conversation."

Rena Steinzor, a Center for Progressive Reform Member Scholar and …

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