Public Health

When Agencies Fail  

Lives can be lost when agencies fall down on the job.

What happens when agencies fail in their jobs? People can die. The most dramatic example is the opioid crisis, in which a whole series of state and federal agencies fell short.  The result has been hundreds of thousands of deaths. The FDA was one of the prime culprits. It bought into a myth, carefully cultivated …

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Is the ‘Vaccine Mandate’ Legal?

Despite all the political huffing and puffing, Biden’s order has a solid legal basis.

Incensed critics are calling Biden’s proposed “vaccine mandate” an outrageous usurpation of power. They need to take a deep breath. It’s not really a vaccine mandate, the only statutory issue is procedural, and there’s no constitutional problem. Calling Biden’s order a vaccine mandate is misleading. It could just as well be considered a testing mandate …

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Disaster Mismanagement

12 Lessons from the COVID response in how NOT to manage a crisis.

The Trump Administration’s bungling of the coronavirus pandemic surely should feature in management textbooks. Just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Some of the problems derived from having a top manager who was fundamentally indifferent  and seemingly incapable of grasping basic facts. But other problems were due to inability to manage the …

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Another Worrisome Signal from the Supreme Court

Phrases that should frighten environmentalists: “Shadow docket ” “Major questions doctrine”

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down the CDC eviction moratorium in the Alabama Association of Realtors case. The case may seem far removed from environmental law, but it has some troubling implications for future EPA regulatory initiatives. The process used by the Supreme Court to intervene is as significant as the ruling itself. This …

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The Delta Variant

Here’s what we can (probably) expect.

The Delta Variant sounds like the title of one of those Robert Ludlum thrillers, like The Bourne Identity. Actually, though, it’s a lot scarier.  The Delta variant of the coronavirus is rapidly becoming dominant. What are its characteristics and what can we expect from its spread? The first thing to know is that the Delta …

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Vaccination, Enlightenment Values, and the Founders

Anti-vaxxers and climate deniers are abandoning America’s founding values.

Ironically, those who most trumpet their allegiance to the Founders often have least in common with their values. The Founding Fathers were men of the Enlightenment. They shared a belief that reason, free inquiry, and science would better the human condition. They looked to reason as a guide. They sought, in Jefferson’s words, to expunge …

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The Opioid Epidemic and Vaccine Hesitancy

The places hit hardest by opioids are often skeptical of vaccines. That’s probably not a coincidence.

The opioid crisis was the product of corporate greed run amok and a corrupted regulatory process. That crisis may have amplified deep distrust of the pharmaceutical industry and its government watchdogs — distrust that may now be reflected in vaccine skepticism. First, a little history. The manufacturer, Purdue Pharma,  aggressively promoted the use of oxycontin, …

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How Harmful Was Trump’s COVID Response?

We know it was bad, but how much of the U.S. death rate can be attributed to him rather than circumstances?

The U.S. COVID response went badly in 2020. How much was because Trump was Trump? That is, if Trump had been a moderately competent but imperfect leader, facing a diverse population with a significant resistance to public health measures, how many lives would have been saved? That’s not a question that anyone can answer with …

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Getting the Lead Out

The Ninth Circuit tells EPA to determine safe levels for lead based solely on science.

Lead can cause neurological damage to young children and developing fetuses. The only really safe level is zero. Because poor children are the most likely to be exposed to this hazard, this is also a major environmental justice issue. The Trump EPA took the position that it could set a hazard level higher than zero …

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Guest Contributors Clara Barnosky, Jane Sadler, Richard Yates, and Zachary Zimmerman: The Biden Administration’s First 100 Days of Reversing Environmental Rollbacks

Joe Biden

An Early Analysis of Progress and Priorities in the Executive Branch

In the final months of the Trump presidency, we (a team of students working with U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE)) compiled a database of over 200 environmental rollbacks enacted during the Trump administration. These rollbacks characterized the administration’s aggressive focus on deregulation of industry and disregard of protections for the …

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