administrative law

EPA v. the Inspector General

Surprise, surprise, EPA has tried to stonewall an investigation.

EPA’s Acting Inspector General Charles J. Sheehan took the extraordinary step last week of notifying Congress that EPA was stonewalling his investigation of potential misconduct involving EPA’s Chief of Staff.  This was a gutsy move for Sheehan, especially given the extra vulnerability created by his Acting status. Sheehan, it is worth noting, is a career …

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A Welcome Victory in the D.C. Circuit

This is what it looks like when judges just buckle down and do their jobs.

Last Friday, the D.C. Circuit decided Wisconsin v. EPA. The federal appeals court rejected industry attacks on a regulation dealing with interstate air pollution but accepted an argument by environmental groups that the regulation was too weak.  Last week also featured depressing examples of the drumbeat of Trump Administration rollbacks, so it was especially nice …

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Sidestepping Regulatory Ossification

The regulatory process can take forever. Here are some possible responses.

Some years ago, Tom McGarity coined the phrase “regulatory ossification” to describe the increasingly slow and cumbersome regulatory system.  Since then, the situation has only gotten worse.  As a recent article by Bethany Davis Noll and Richard Revesz points out, significant regulations take an average of four years to issue, and judicial review adds another …

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Principles of Climate Governance

We need to address the procedures and structures for climate policymaking.

There’s a lot of discussion about the substance of climate policy today.  That’s obviously critical, but we also need to think about the procedural and institutional issues involved in making climate policy.  For instance, we need to think about how to divide authority between the states and the federal government.  I thought it would be …

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Justice Stevens and the Rule of (Environmental) Law

A simple but powerful principle: courts and agencies should respect statutes.

Justice Stevens and the Rule of (Environmental) Law There’s already been a lot written in the aftermath of Justice Stevens’s death, including Ann Carlson’s excellent Legal Planet post last week. I’d like to add something about an aspect of his jurisprudence that had great relevance to environmental law: his belief in the rule of law, …

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Justice Gorsuch versus the Administrative State

Does the Gundy decision spell doom for modern government?

Gundy v. United States was a case involving a fairly obscure statute regulating sex offenders, but some have seen it as a harbinger of the destruction of the modern administrative state.  In a 4-1-3 split, the Court turned away a constitutional challenge based on a claim that Congress had delegated too much authority to the …

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Regulatory Reform: A Progressive Vision

A new Issue Brief provides practical proposals on how to improve regulation.

For over three decades, “regulatory reform” has been an aspiration chiefly for opponents of regulation.  Everyone agrees that regulation could be improved. But too many proposals for change are designed to undercut protection of the environment, public health, and civil rights. What would regulatory reform look like if you actually want to improve regulation rather …

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Trump Loses Another Big Court Case

Ninth Circuit reverses Pruitt decision to allow a dangerous pesticide on food.

Last Thursday, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Scott Pruitt had no justification for allowing even the tiniest traces of a pesticide called chlorpyrifos (also called Lorsban and Dursban) on food. This is yet another judicial slap against lawlessness by the current Administration. Chlorpyrifos was originally invented as a nerve gas, but it turns out that …

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What Kind of Conservative is Kavanaugh?

Half a dozen observations on our (probably) soon to be junior Justice.

I wanted to add a few words about Kavanaugh in light of Ann Carlson’s excellent post a few minutes ago. No doubt we’ll be seeing more about his views after people have had time to read his opinions and some of his law review writing. But there are a few points I would add after …

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Agency U-Turns

Policy reversals are likely to be more frequent in an increasingly polarized society. How should courts respond?

The Trump Administration is doing its best to wipe out Obama’s regulatory legacy. How will the courts respond to such a radical policy change? The philosophical clash between these last two Presidents is especially stark, but this is far from being the first time that agencies have taken U-turns. This is the fifth time in …

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