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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Obama Nominates Howard Shelanski to Lead Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

On April 25, President Obama nominated Howard Shelanski as administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). If confirmed, Shelanski would replace Cass Sunstein, who resigned from the position last August, leaving behind a record of lengthy delays.

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Former EPA Official Sheds Light on Problems with White House Review of Rules and Standards

Recent reflections of a former executive agency official illustrate the troubling role the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) plays in reviewing all agency rules before they can be issued. In a new article, Lisa Heinzerling shares her perspective on OIRA review during her tenure at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Notably, Heinzerling gives a first-hand account of how the White House interacts with agencies regarding rules, contradicting the story being told by former OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein and challenging the unrecognizably rosy picture of rule reviews he spins. Indeed, Heinzerling identifies a number of problems with OIRA, including significant delays and a lack of transparency, that resonate with health and safety advocates.

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OMB Report: Standards and Safeguards Have Produced Vast Benefits at Minimal Cost

In April, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a draft report on the benefits and costs of federal standards and safeguards. The report shows that over the past 10 years, public protections have produced vast benefits at minimal cost. In all, the estimated annual benefits of these rules ranged from $192.7 billion to $799.7 billion, while costs ranged from $56.6 billion to $83.7 billion.

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Former Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Paints Unrecognizably Rosy Picture of Rule Reviews

Cass Sunstein, former Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator, recently penned an article, "OIRA: Myths and Realities," which purports to explain what OIRA really does when it reviews proposed and final rules submitted by agencies under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. Sunstein's claims differ greatly from what agencies and public interest advocates say happens behind closed doors at OIRA.

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Anti-Regulatory Forces Target Agency Science to Undermine Health and Safety Standards

As committees of the 113th Congress begin to implement their agendas, it is increasingly apparent that environmental and health standards, and the science serving as the basis for these protections, will remain a favorite target of anti-regulatory legislators. Last session's industry-supported proposals to change scientific assessment programs would undermine environmental, health, and safety standards, yet they are likely to reappear. Meanwhile, new investigations underscore that these measures ignore the real impediments to improving the credibility and usefulness of agency science and risk assessments.

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Center for Effective Government in the News

Outsourcing IRS Collection Of Tax Debts Unlikely
Joseph Thorndike, Tax Analysts
July 29, 2015

Consumer Financial Protection Complaint Database Extends Vital Role for Citizens
Scott Klinger, Center for Effective Government
July 25, 2015

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Progress: Bill That Would Have Undercut Work of Independent Federal Agencies Delayed Until 2013

Great news! Thanks to the hard work of consumer, environmental, labor, and other public interest groups (including the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards) and engaged citizens like you, lawmakers put the brakes on the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act (S. 3468). The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has decided to hold a hearing on the bill to gather more public input before moving forward.

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Anti-Regulatory Bill Would Limit the SEC's Ability to Protect Investors

A pending anti-regulatory bill that targets independent regulatory agencies would significantly curtail the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) ability to protect investors from financial fraud and other economic hazards. The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2012 (S. 3468) would require independent agencies to conduct formal cost-benefit analyses for all significant rules and would allow the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to review those analyses. This would cause lengthy delays in implementing the financial oversight contained in the Dodd-Frank law.

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Underestimating the Benefits of Public Protections

In a September article, OMB Watch highlighted how difficult it is for everyday Americans to find information on the benefits of the standards and safeguards that protect and improve our quality of life. In this piece, we describe how agencies identify benefits and assign a monetary value to them. If agencies either underestimate or undervalue the benefits of a proposed safeguard, it could be rejected by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), and important protections could be delayed for years, leaving the health and safety of American workers and families at risk.

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Nearly Four Years In, What Do Cost-Benefit Data Show for the Major Obama EPA Rules, and What Do They Imply for the Economy?

With the issuance in August of the fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for cars for model years 2017–2025, the Obama administration may have now put forth the last major Environmental Protection Agency rule of its term. Starting with a comprehensive analysis in May 2011, EPI has issued a series of analyses which have found that contrary to much of the political commentary, these rules will be of great benefit to the nation, improving public health considerably without harming the economy or employment. (By Isaac Shapiro, originally posted on the Economic Policy Institute's blog, working economics, on Sept. 25, 2012)

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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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