Lori Aratani and Paul Duggan of the Washington Post report on the controversy about which agency should oversee safety of the Washington DC subway system (“Metrorail”).
Category Archives: Regulatory Failure
To date, we have identified six features of EPA’s conduct that, if committed by a private entity, likely would be correlated with increasing fines and penalties in addition to tort liability. From Part 1:
- The size of the blowout is much larger than EPA said it was.
- The scale of potential environmental damage and adverse effects on human health is vast.
- EPA apparently delayed reporting the blowout to state and local officials.
- EPA was slow to collect data, make it difficult to access, and published it in a format that is very difficult for the public to understand and utilize.
From Part 2:
- EPA is touting the benefits of dilution; the consequences of the blowout are naturally attenuating.
- EPA may be offering to make quick damage payments in return for waivers denying future recovery.
Today, news reports indicate that EPA’s actions at the site which caused the blowout were predicted to cause a blowout. Advance knowledge of an adverse consequence expected to result from an action may qualify as an intentional tort. The federal government’s liability for intentional torts is much more limited than its already limited liability for negligence.
Violations of environmental laws carry substantial risk of fines for violations, whether or not the violation was negligent. On August 5, a cleanup crew of Region 8 of the US Environmental Protection Agency breached a debris dam at the Gold King Mine. This is a major environmental event. Public and agricultural use of downstream waters has stopped as communities have declared states of emergency.
If a private entity had been responsible for it, EPA and the Department of Justice would seek substantial fines and penalties, and perhaps file criminal charges, especially for its delayed an incompetent reporting. Suppose EPA were subject to fines and penalties. How large might they be?
A few local governments have banned retailers from packing groceries and other goods in disposable bags, or taxed consumers who want them. These regulations are typically portrayed as good for the environment because they encourage consumers to reuse bags or replace them with canvas. Writer Judy Gruen is the latest to bemoan the opportunity costs of these regulations, but for some reason she has not stumbled on the obvious, market-based method of circumvention.
Earlier this week, a 28-year old woman died after falling about 150 feet into the ocean when her parasailing harness apparently broke. This has predictably led to calls for more regulation.
Fans of the Summer Olympics who never knew badminton was a competitive sport have been shown otherwise. It’s so competitive that when the rules of competition invite poor sportsmanship, that’s exactly what they produce.