Joe-biden-wide.jpg
April 27, 2021 by James Goodwin

Memo to Biden: Regulation Is Infrastructure

President Joe Biden's April 28 speech to a joint session of Congress — his first major address since his inauguration — offers him a chance to outline and defend his policy priorities. He should use this opportunity to articulate a positive vision of regulation as an institution within our democracy and to champion the crucial role it plays in promoting the public interest.

Biden will likely focus much of his speech on his ambitious infrastructure plan, from which he can easily pivot to regulation. After all, robust regulations are essential to the success of the U.S. economy, no different from traditional "gray" infrastructure like roads, bridges, pipelines, and power lines.

Strong regulatory protections provide a foundation of trust, which is critical for keeping our economy humming. Imagine, for example, if the Biden administration's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its long overdue emergency temporary standard to protect workers from being exposed to COVID-19 on the job. Such a standard would give workers and consumers confidence that they can safely get back into the marketplace, providing a much-needed jolt of economic activity.

Like bridges, regulatory protections also link, in durable and meaningful ways, the interests of disparate economic actors to promote …

April 26, 2021 by James Goodwin
USCapitol_wide.JPG

Making Congress functional again is having a moment. The debates over ending the filibuster and legislation to prevent hyper-partisan congressional districts have received the most attention in this space so far. But lawmakers did quietly take an important step forward on mending congressional dysfunction when they reinstated the practice of earmarking the federal budget, reversing a decade-old ban.

Lawmakers should build on this fix to the budget process by cracking down on “poison pill” appropriations riders, a gimmick that proliferated in the vacuum left by the earmark ban.

These riders are the inverse of earmarks, which direct federal agencies to spend a certain portion of funds on a specific activity (like building a bridge or community center, for example). Poison pill riders, on the other hand, bar agencies from using funds for certain activities. They don’t repeal agencies …

April 20, 2021 by Minor Sinclair
blm-pixabay-wide.jpg

Racism runs much deeper than policing and law enforcement. Racial injustice is deeply embedded in our nation’s past and present. It is systemic, institutional, and interpersonal, but it is not insurmountable. It’s time for a national reckoning that takes racism and white supremacy seriously and delivers fully enforceable policies that stamp out discrimination in policing and all other institutions in our country. Black Americans and other marginalized people are entitled to the same tenets of life and liberty as guaranteed to white people. Systemic racism and lawlessness by state actors make that impossible.

Today, a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in May 2020. This is one small step toward accountability for those who perpetrate violence against Black people and other marginalized people. Still mourning the loss of George Floyd and calling out the names of Adam and …

April 13, 2021 by Katlyn Schmitt
child washing hands water-cropped.jpg

At midnight on April 13, Maryland’s 2021 legislative session closed out with the passage of a law (House Bill 1069) that will provide meaningful drinking water protections for tenants who rely on well water. The measure, sponsored by Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery County), passed with bipartisan support in the Maryland Senate but faced hurdles in the House due to a last-minute filibuster attempt.

Public drinking water is regularly monitored and tested to meet certain safety standards set out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Safe Drinking Water Act. The safety of drinking water from a private well or smaller community system, on the other hand, is solely up to the owner of that well or system.

In CPR’s recent report, fellow Policy Analyst Darya Minovi and I found that Maryland lags far behind most states in terms of protections for well …

March 30, 2021 by Daniel Farber
air-pollution-power-lines-wide.jpg

This post was originally published on Legal Planet. Reprinted with permission.

Coal- and gas-fired power plants are a major source of U.S. carbon emissions. The Obama administration devised a perfectly sensible, moderate policy to cut those emissions. The Trump administration replaced it with a ridiculous token policy. The D.C. Circuit appeals court tossed that out. Now what?

It wouldn't be hard to redo the Obama policy based on all the changes in the power industry since he left office, which would result in much more rigorous emissions controls. The problem is that the ultra-conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to be very skeptical of the legal basis of any plan that, like Obama's, requires states to expand use of renewable energy.

Opponents of Obama's plan made two legal arguments, which both came up again in the litigation over the Trump rule …

March 25, 2021 by Daniel Farber
SupremeCourtOverview-SCOTUSFlickr-04302-wide.jpg

This post was originally published on Legal Planet. Reprinted with permission.

If you ask Supreme Court experts what keeps them up at night, the answer is likely to be the non-delegation doctrine. If you are among the 99.9 percent of Americans who've never heard of it, here's an explainer of the doctrine and what the 6-3 Court might do with it.

What's the nondelegation doctrine?

Simply put, the doctrine says that only the legislature can create new rules of law and that Congress cannot transfer this power to the executive branch or the judiciary. That sounds very reasonable. The big problem is that Congress often has to give discretion to the people implementing a law to fill in gaps, apply rules to particular circumstances, and deal with ambiguities. For instance, there are hundreds of toxic chemicals, and it's not realistic to think that Congress could make …

March 24, 2021 by James Goodwin
Joe-biden-wide.jpg

In a little-noticed move on Day One, President Joe Biden issued a memo designed to institute a more progressive process for developing new regulations. Such an effort is essential, given that timely, effective regulations will play a key role in achieving Biden-Harris administration's policy agenda. To succeed, however, it must also tackle the conservative philosophy that guides our government's rulemaking process.

Biden's memo focuses on the mechanics of the rulemaking process, and especially two institutions that heavily influence regulatory decisions: centralized, White House review of proposed rules and economics-focused assessments of them. President Reagan and his successors have issued a string of executive orders to govern these institutions. Biden's memo addresses flaws in the current iteration, Executive Order 12866 (along with some other, related orders). Fixing these flaws is necessary to create a more progressive regulatory system that better protects people and the planet.

A flawed foundation …

March 23, 2021 by James Goodwin, Sidney Shapiro
RegPolicyCollage_wide.JPG

This op-ed originally ran in The Regulatory Review. Reprinted with permission.

To paraphrase French economist Thomas Piketty, the task of evaluating new regulations is too important to leave to just economists. Yet, since the 1980s, White House-supervised regulatory impact analysis has privileged economic efficiency as the primary and often only legitimate objective of federal regulation. The regulatory reform initiative launched by President Joseph R. Biden on his first day in office creates an opportunity to reorient regulatory analysis in ways that both reformers and the public support.

Legal and policy experts object to hyper-technical regulatory analysis, and new public opinion polling indicates that voters agree.

Far from a monolithic concept, cost-benefit analysis encompasses a wide range of approaches and techniques, all with their own theoretical underpinnings and ethical commitments. Indeed, the current version of cost-benefit analysis is grounded in the conservative discipline of welfare economics and seeks …

March 12, 2021 by Maggie Dewane, Gilonne d'Origny
Farmers Market-apples.jpg

Gilonne d'Origny

To commemorate Women’s History Month, we’re interviewing women at the Center for Progressive Reform about how they’re building a more just America, whether by pursuing a just transition to clean energy, protections for food workers, or legal support for Native Americans. This week, we spoke with Board Member Gilonne d’Origny, a translational advisor for the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington, which designs new proteins to solve problems in medicine, energy, and technology.

CPR: What motivated you to become an expert in food policy and a voice for equal justice in America? Is there historical context to this or a moment in history that stood out to you as motivation or inspiration?

GdO: Since my time at university, I’ve believed that food systems must change given the considerable carbon footprint of producing and supplying food, and the potential of …

March 9, 2021 by Alejandro Camacho, Melissa Kelly
supreme-court-sunny-wide.jpg

This post was originally published on SCOTUSblog. Reprinted under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.

Notwithstanding the Freedom of Information Act's primary goal of promoting transparency in government decision-making, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled by a 7-to-2 vote that the public policy of facilitating agency candor in exercising its expertise in preliminary agency deliberations can outweigh such transparency and accountability concerns. Justice Amy Coney Barrett delivered the 11-page opinion, her first majority opinion since joining the court in October. It was a natural debut given that the case, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club, was the first oral argument that Barrett heard after joining the bench.

The case presented the question of whether FOIA's deliberative-process privilege exempts from disclosure certain documents prepared during a statutorily required interagency consultation process between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
April 27, 2021

Memo to Biden: Regulation Is Infrastructure

April 26, 2021

The Hill Op-ed: Now That Earmarks Are Back, It's Time to Ban 'Poison Pill' Riders

April 20, 2021

A Small Step toward Accountability: CPR Commends Guilty Verdicts in the Murder of George Floyd

April 13, 2021

Maryland Adopts Law to Ensure Safe Drinking Water for Tenants

March 30, 2021

Biden's Dilemma: Limiting Carbon from Existing Power Plants

March 25, 2021

The Nondelegation Doctrine and Its Threat to Environmental Law

March 24, 2021

Biden's Overhaul Effort Should Include the 'Basic Principles' of Regulation, Too