New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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EPA's Rigged Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis

EPA's use of cost-benefit analysis in developing proposed mercury control regulations was deeply flawed, according to a GAO report released yesterday. The report examined how EPA used different variables when comparing different proposals so that the cost-benefit analysis was weighted towards the industry-preferred cap-and-trade method. GAO identified "four major shortcomings in the economic analysis underlying EPA's proposed mercury control options:"

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FCC Rigs Cost-Benefit Report to Side With Industry on Cable A La Carte

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sided with the cable and big media industries against regulation mandating à la carte cable service, justifying its position with a cost-benefit analysis rigged against à la carte options. The vision of cable à la carte is that cable customers could pick and pay for only the channels they want. Most American consumers can only purchase cable service in large tiered packages, like “basic” and “expanded” service packages, which require them to pay for channels they never watch in order to receive the channels they do want.

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What Bush means for the environment

Be sure to check out this excellent report on the prospect of further Bush administration rollbacks of the environment. Unlike most press coverage, this story goes the extra step and addresses how the Bush administration can have far-reaching consequences not just through rollbacks of individual rules but also through broadly applicable technical policies, such as cost-benefit analysis.

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Costs outweighing benefits of cost-benefit analysis

Interesting tidbit in Cindy Skrzycki's Washington Post column about OHSA. Charged with protecting the men and women of America who work for a living, OSHA has become, during the Bush administration, the black hole of government: nothing comes out of it, certainly not light. As we found in a recent report, the Bush OSHA has failed to produce a single economically significant protection of workplace health or safety.

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Graham -- let's flesh this out a bit

Just can't let this go. The Graham profile in the Seattle Times is so broad that it may not be immediately apparent the extent to which Graham has set back regulatory policy and kept the agencies from serving the public interest. Here are some of those missing details:
  • OMB Role in Fuel Economy Change Exposed
  • Administration Asks Manufacturers for Regulatory Hit List
  • GAO Finds OMB Regulatory Review Not Well Documented
  • Graham Advises Agencies on Valuing Lives of Seniors
  • OMB Waters Down Standards on Factory-Farm Runoff

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Graham in the news

In case you missed it, the Seattle Times has a story today about John Graham, head of the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. It is a broad profile of Graham's work in that office. For more details on his history and the "intellectual" underpinnings of his approach to his work in this administration, be sure to check out an excellent analysis put out by Public Citizen when Graham was nominated for the job. PubCit carefully documented a history of Graham taking corporate money and -- surprise!

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Say bye-bye to the bull trout...

Remember the bull trout? The administration pulled some chicanery a while back and produced a cost-benefit analysis of plans to save the bull trout's habitat... but eliminated all references to benefits from the final report. Well, surprise, surprise: the new recovery plan "would sharply reduce the amount of federally designated critical habitat for the threatened bull trout in three Western states and eliminate federal requirements for such habitat in Montana," according to the AP. Adds the (Bend) Bulletin:

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Cost-benefit analysis: still so very wrong

Three studies were widely reported in the press and converted into political and scholarly gospel for what they purportedly proved with unassailable quantitative analysis: that government regulation of the public interest is ultimately irrational, as regulations’ costs exponentially outpaced their benefits. In more recent years, Professors Lisa Heinzerling and Richard Parker have scrutinized those studies, claim by claim, number by number, and discovered methodological flaws and biases so severe that the studies should be dumped on the junk science trash heap once and for all.

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Cost-benefit analysis: not exactly neutral

Proponents of cost-benefit analysis in regulatory policy claim it is simply a neutral tool (that only coincidentally favors industry). Suppose CBA had been applied back in the 70s, when agencies issued many protections of the public interest that we know have been overwhelmingly successful. It could have changed history for the worse: The first wave of modern environmental protection, beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, cleaned up the air and water, protected fragile ecosystems, and achieved great gains in public health — without reliance on cost-benefit analysis, and clearly without

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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