By Matthew Freeman, Center for Progressive Reform
Four recent op-eds by CPR Member Scholars underscore the scope and danger of the current assault on our safeguards now being mounted by the president and the congressional leadership. Highlights of the most recent pieces follow, but you can always browse through all of this year’s published pieces from our scholars and staff on our website.
On May 17, Alyson Flournoy and Mary Jane Angelo, colleagues at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, co-authored “Without Public Protections, Florida Will Suffer” for the Pensacola News Journal. In it, they take on the president’s bumper-sticker-driven executive order calling on regulatory agencies to offer up two existing regulatory safeguards for every new regulations they propose — the infamous “one-in, two-out” order. They write, “The executive order ignores the massive benefits of regulation to consumers, workers, people who’d prefer to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and eat safe foods, while focusing solely and obsessively on the cost to the companies that produce unsafe products, consign employees to dangerous working conditions and pollute the environment. It is meat-axe-style policymaking that assumes every rule is bad and that repeal is, by definition, always good.”
In the Cincinnati Enquirer five days later, Joseph Tomain of the University of Cincinnati College of Law took home-state Sen. Rob Portman to task for his sponsorship of the so-called Regulatory Accountability Act. Under the guise of improving the regulatory process, the bill seeks to make safeguards against various health, safety, and environmental hazards all but impossible to adopt. In “Portman’s Regulatory Reform Bill Will Increase Costs, Bureaucracy,” Tomain observes that, “Instead of improving regulatory accountability, the proposed legislation would make regulation more expensive and prevent protective agencies from effectively enforcing our nation’s laws. Instead of actual regulatory reform, it is closely aligned with the Trump/Bannon strategy to ‘deconstruct the administrative state.’”
On June 7, Carl Cranor of the University of California, Riverside, wrote about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s recent decision to reject the recommendation of the agency’s own scientists and allow the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos to remain in use, reversing the course set by the Obama administration. In his piece in the Los Angeles Times, “EPA Scientists Said Ban the Pesticide Chlorpyrifos; Scott Pruitt Said No,” he writes that “Good, highly certain evidence from independent scientists and EPA scientists shows that chlorpyrifos is toxic to people and puts them at risk for serious health effects. Pruitt’s decision favors farmers who want to use the pesticide and companies who want to sell it. It makes those who work in California’s fields or grow up next to them expendable, coal-mine canaries for toxicants that can affect us all.”
Finally, William Buzbee of Georgetown University Law Center used an op-ed in The New York Times to call out the fraud at the heart of the Regulatory Accountability Act and a similarly destructive bill called the REINS Act. In “Regulatory ‘Reform’ That Is Anything But,” he lists a series of current protections for drinking water, the food supply, health care, product safety, consumer finance, special needs students and more, and writes that, “Few members of Congress would dare vote directly to eliminate protections like those. But by imposing a byzantine, burdensome process on all agencies, Congress could dodge accountability but nonetheless derail the implementation of popular laws.”