Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement Resources

The safety standards on which we rely daily for our food, medicines and cars. The energy and climate policies needed to save our planet. The new financial regulations designed to prevent banks from gambling with our money and creating another crisis. These are policies that should be determined in open, democratic venues where we have a say. But a group of the largest U.S. and European banks and corporations want to rewrite these safeguards behind closed doors. For over a decade, they have pushed for a new U.S. "trade" deal with Europe – the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which corporate proponents have tried to rebrand as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – a deal that would roll back consumer protections on both sides of the Atlantic.

read in full

Expected Budget Cuts Prompt EPA to Reduce Performance Targets in Five-Year Strategic Plan

Just over one year ago, a fertilizer facility in West, TX exploded, killing 15 people and injuring hundreds more. In January, approximately 10,000 gallons of toxic chemicals leaked from a storage tank at a Freedom Industries facility in Charleston, WV into the Elk River, contaminating the drinking water supply of over 300,000 nearby residents. And in February, thousands of gallons of coal ash spilled from unlined ponds at Duke Energy's coal plant into the Dan River in North Carolina. More environmental incidents like these are happening regularly, risking the public's health and the environment. We need stronger national standards for toxic chemicals and hazardous waste, and these standards need to be enforced. But the federal agency charged with issuing and enforcing national environmental standards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been subjected to significant budget cuts over the past several years that have restricted its ability to carry out its mission.

read in full

OIRA Makes Much-Needed Improvements to Online Meetings Database

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), within the White House Office of Management and Budget, recently updated its online database for disclosing meetings with non-government officials, such as lobbyists, trade associations, public interest groups, and other private stakeholders. 

read in full

EPA Moves Ahead to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Power Plants

On March 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted its draft proposed rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review. 

read in full

Accelerating Approvals of U.S. Natural Gas Exports Increases Risks of Environmental Disasters and Rising Energy Costs

Long before Russia's annexation of Crimea last month, companies and trade associations that support exporting U.S. liquefied natural gas called for accelerating the existing export review and approval process. With mounting concerns that Russia will continue its incursion into Ukraine, through which major Russian natural gas pipelines travel, U.S. export proponents are seizing the opportunity to repackage their agenda by framing it as a strong signal to Russia that its power over the global liquefied natural gas market is diminishing. However, significantly expanding U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas overseas has major economic and environmental risks, and proposals to accelerate the approval process for export projects in response to the crisis in Ukraine would only enhance these threats.

read in full

White House Finalizes Long-Overdue Rule to Prevent Kids from Being Hurt, Killed in Back-Over Accidents

UPDATE (3/31/14): NHTSA today issued a final rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new passenger vehicles and light truck and buses under 10,000 pounds by May 2018 to reduce the risk of death and serious injuries caused by backover accidents.

read in full

Portman Proposal Limits Environmental Reviews and Public Input on Proposed Development Projects

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is pushing ahead with his campaign against public safeguards, using a subcommittee hearing on March 11 that was designed to discuss ways to improve the effectiveness of our regulatory system to promote yet another anti-regulatory bill, the Federal Permitting Improvement Act of 2013. The bill would require faster environmental impact assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for proposed major infrastructure projects and limit public input in, and oversight of, federal decision making.

read in full

The "Best" Regulatory System Money Can Buy: Lessons from North Carolina's "Regulatory Reform" Movement

by James Goodwin (originally posted on the Center for Progressive Reform's blog on March 19, 2014)

For years, Duke Energy has enjoyed virtual free rein to contaminate North Carolina's surface and ground waters with arsenic, lead, selenium, and all of the other toxic ingredients in its coal ash waste in clear violation of the Clean Water Act and other federal environmental laws. And it seems that both North Carolina's regulators and state legislators are determined to keep it that way.

read in full

Delayed Health and Safety Standards Cost Lives

On Tuesday, I testified at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce about why critical health and safety standards were being delayed and how we could improve the timeliness and transparency of the rulemaking process. A condensed version of my oral testimony follows, along with a link to my written testimony.

read in full

Attempts to Use Congressional Review Act for Proposed Rules Threaten All Public Safeguards

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has recently taken an unprecedented action by introducing a joint resolution to disapprove of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed greenhouse gas emissions limits for new power plants. Through the resolution, McConnell is attempting to utilize the accelerated legislative procedures provided in the Congressional Review Act, even though the law was designed only for reviewing final agency rules.

read in full