Commentary: Changes to Coal Ash Proposal Place Utility's Concerns above Public Health

An internal administration document shows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may have weakened a proposal to regulate toxic coal ash at the behest of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), owner of a Kingston, TN, power plant where a dam break spilled 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash in 2008.

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Commentary: White House Misadventures in Coal Ash Rule

Unified Agenda Developments behind the scenes of a new EPA proposal to regulate coal ash undermine several core tenets of the Obama presidency, conflict with pledges to reform the way government works, and expose the flaws in a regulatory process that too often does not do enough for the public.

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Minerals Management Service Acted More like Agent than Regulator

The federal agency responsible for regulating oil and gas extraction let oil companies like BP write their own safety regulations, ignored or downplayed the environmental threats from drilling, and issued drilling permits before fully consulting with other regulatory agencies. The Obama administration has launched an overhaul of the agency and has sent to Congress a legislative proposal to address the looming disaster in the Gulf Coast region.

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What's Next for Coal Mine Safety?

Miner In the wake of the latest coal mining disaster that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, calls for safety reforms and enhanced regulatory powers echo once again. While mine safety has improved since the recent high death toll of 2006, it remains to be seen if this incident will result in significant changes or if deaths and injuries will continue to be perceived as a cost of doing business.

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At Agencies, Open Government and E-Rulemaking Go Hand in Hand

Several agencies are highlighting their rulemaking activities as part of the Obama administration's push to improve government transparency and public participation. The Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Labor (DOL) all recognized the importance of regulation by including rulemaking and regulatory innovations in their Open Government Plans.

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New Vehicle Standards Take Aim at Climate-Altering Emissions

The Obama administration recently announced new standards that will improve fuel efficiency in new vehicles starting in 2012. The standards mark the first time in U.S. history that the federal government has crafted regulations aimed specifically at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stemming the impact of global climate change.

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Auto Safety Regulator under Scrutiny after Toyota Fiasco

Incidents of sudden acceleration that led to the recall of millions of Toyota vehicles have sparked a debate over whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency in charge of auto safety, needs enhanced powers and resources.

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Scientists Recommend Ways to Restore Scientific Integrity to Government

On March 3, the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP) released the results of a two-year research effort to explore the working environment of federal scientists in the public health and environmental fields. The results showed that not only is there political interference in their work, but that scientists also faced a series of obstacles that delay the study and dissemination of scientific information that affects the public every day.

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Patchwork Improvements Continue for E-Rulemaking

Several federal government websites have recently incorporated changes that better highlight regulatory issues and expand online access to rulemaking information. However, the changes appear independent of one another, not parts of a conscious effort by the Obama administration to transform the government's beleaguered e-rulemaking systems.

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Annual Cost-Benefit Report Gives Clues to Regulatory Changes

The Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) annual report to Congress on the costs and benefits of federal regulations provides clues to the changes the Obama administration will seek in the regulatory process. While the report includes some important changes to the way agencies might approach calculating the impacts of new rules, it does little to suggest that major changes to the central role OMB plays in the process are likely.

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