A Great New Appointment: Edith Ramirez as FTC Chair

FTC Chair Edith Ramirez
FTC Chair Edith Ramirez

President Obama has appointed Edith Ramirez to chair the Federal Trade Commission; since she already serves on the FTC, this thankfully does not require Senate confirmation.  It’s a terrific appointment.  I have known Edith for about 15 years now; we served together on the board of the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, one of the best legal services organizations in the country.  I have always been impressed with her intelligence and judgment in a wide variety of matters.  (And for what it’s worth, I haven’t been in touch with her since 2010, when President Obama appointed her to the Commission).

Now, you may well ask: what does this have to do with the environment?  The FTC is the nation’s oldest existing federal regulatory agency — it was a key piece of Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom — but that hardly puts it into the green space.  But in an era such as the present, where green labeling is a very big business, it is crucial.  The FTC has jurisdiction over consumer regulation and particularly issues of false and misleading advertising.  That means that issues concerning greenwashing come before the FTC in the first instance.  Indeed, the FTC just issued new greenwashing guidelines in the form of “Green Guides“.

Greenwashing claims are not only crucial in terms of harnassing the power of the market for a sustainable future; they also present difficult issues concerning commercial speech issues.  It’s pretty obvious that the Roberts Court sought from the very beginning to prevent regulation of campaign finance; I am concerned that now that that issue has been dispensed with, the Chief Justice will seek to false and misleading advertising under the guise of the First Amendment.  That means that regulations and enforcement will have to handled with integrity and expertise, and I can’t think of a better person than Edith to do it.  This is in no small part due to her background as a business counselor and litigator: Edith actually understands and is concerned about the way that businesses work and what their needs are.

And just to get the right discussions started.  Hmmm…Edith knows President Obama from her days on the Harvard Law Review: she was an editor when he was the President of the Law Review.  And she is in her mid-40’s.  And a Latina.  And whip smart.  And now chairing an adjudicatory body.  She could be on a high court for a very long time.  Not a bad idea, that.

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Reader Comments

4 Replies to “A Great New Appointment: Edith Ramirez as FTC Chair”

  1. Not on topic here, but your apparently thin-skinned buddy, Joe Nocera, has written yet again about those critical of Keystone. I, too,used to look forward to reading his columns, but that was back when he was writing for the business section and generally sticking up for Main Street. As one of the Times regular Op-Ed folks, he hasn’t been as good. Maybe he’s just never found his footing. On environmental issues he’s in a bit over his head. The comment in today’s post about 350 parts per million and run away warming suggests he doesn’t really know the science, or what ‘run away’ might mean. But there is something else at work. Why the hackles, why the vitriol? Yes, some folks don’t want to strip mine huge swaths of pristine boreal forest, pollute the region’s waters, use a relatively clean fuel (natural gas) to cook the tar into something refine-able and leave behind a wasteland of giant, toxic settling ponds for some future entity to maintain. All of this so that we can stick a giant straw into one of the largest carbon sinks on the planet and pump that carbon into the air. I get the feeling he hates environment activism almost as much as his colleague Richard Cohen hates organic agriculture.

  2. Not on topic here, but your apparently thin-skinned buddy, Joe Nocera, has written yet again about those critical of Keystone. I, too,used to look forward to reading his columns, but that was back when he was writing for the business section and generally sticking up for Main Street. As one of the Times regular Op-Ed folks, he hasn’t been as good. Maybe he’s just never found his footing. On environmental issues he’s in a bit over his head. The comment in today’s post about 350 parts per million and run away warming suggests he doesn’t really know the science, or what ‘run away’ might mean. But there is something else at work. Why the hackles, why the vitriol? Yes, some folks don’t want to strip mine huge swaths of pristine boreal forest, pollute the region’s waters, use a relatively clean fuel (natural gas) to cook the tar into something refine-able and leave behind a wasteland of giant, toxic settling ponds for some future entity to maintain. All of this so that we can stick a giant straw into one of the largest carbon sinks on the planet and pump that carbon into the air. I get the feeling he hates environment activism almost as much as his colleague Richard Cohen hates organic agriculture.

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About Jonathan

Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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