The Clean Air Act and the Jobs vs. Regulations Myth

In response to a congressional request, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently prepared a white paper on the effects of the Clean Air Act (CAA) on jobs and the economy. The paper summarizes the empirical evidence on the economic costs and benefits of the act since 1970. The evidence illustrates the many benefits of the CAA and the small impact of pollution controls on employment.

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Obama's Regulatory Reforms Protect the Status Quo

On Jan. 18, President Obama issued a long-awaited executive order on the regulatory process and two related presidential memoranda. The order and the memos are aimed at reaffirming the existing regulatory process rather than significantly reforming it. The most impactful of the three documents is likely to be the memo on regulatory compliance, which stems from the administration's commitment to greater government accountability.

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Obama Continues Post-Spill Reforms to Better Police Drilling

The Obama administration continued revamping offshore oil drilling regulation by recently announcing the next step in its plans to reorganize the Department of the Interior – creating a new agency to oversee drilling safety.

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OMB Watch Sees White House Science Memo as a Step Forward

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2010—The White House today took another step toward securing the independence of federal scientists and ensuring the integrity of scientific information used in government decision making. President Obama's top science advisor, John Holdren, issued a memo to executive branch agencies outlining the administration's position on key scientific integrity issues and instructing agencies to implement reforms.

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Whither Transparency in the Next Congress?

When the 112th Congress convenes in January, attention will be focused on the newly Republican-controlled House. On transparency issues, House Republican leaders have sounded positive tones. However, it remains to be seen whether bipartisan consensus on meaningful transparency can be achieved or whether transparency will be wielded as a partisan weapon.

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White House Sued over Delayed Scientific Integrity Policy

The nonprofit organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is suing the Obama administration over a long-delayed policy to limit interference in federal scientific research and to protect government scientists from censorship and harassment.

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Commentary: Did OMB Block Worst-Case Estimates of Oil Spill?

A working paper by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling has ignited a controversy about the role of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in controlling information about the spill. The working paper alleges that, soon after the April 20 explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig, OMB blocked plans to disclose the government's worst-case models of the spill. The administration's response to the allegations leaves several key questions without clear answers, which can only be resolved by disclosing the drafts and feedback through which these critical documents were developed.

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EPA Plans for Greater Openness in Coming Years

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will incorporate greater transparency, accountability, and community engagement throughout its operations over the next five years, according to the agency's recently released Fiscal Year (FY) 2011-2015 Strategic Plan. The new strategic plan is the agency's first developed under the Obama administration, which has made increasing government openness a high priority.

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Courts Block Deepwater Drilling Moratorium, Salazar Issues Revisions in Response

On July 8, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Obama administration's attempt to block deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. In a three-paragraph ruling, the court denied by a 2-1 vote the administration's request to stay an earlier ruling by a federal district court that struck down the moratorium. In response, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has revised the moratorium.

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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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