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Make changes via exec order, group urges Obama

December 17, 2012

The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has a few items they’d like President Obama to add to his 2013 “To Do” list. Seven items, as a matter of fact.

Citing Congressional gridlock on issues it sees as vital, the nonprofit research and educational organization wants the President to begin his second term by issuing seven Executive Orders addressing health, safety, and environmental issues.

“The second term is a chance for President Obama to take a proactive approach on public protections without waiting for Congress," said Rena Steinzor, author of a new report on the subject. Steinzor is also President of CPR and Professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law.

The CPR Alert, Protecting People and the Environment by the Stroke of a Presidential Pen: Seven New Executive Orders for President Obama’s Second Term, argues that risks faced by the public call for bold action on the part of the Executive Branch. Among the concerns: toxic chemicals that endanger children’s health; the threat of imported food tainted with salmonella, botulism, or other contaminants; the hazardous conditions endangering the country’s most vulnerable workers, high rates of asthma among U.S. youth; and climate change.

The report recommends executive orders to address:

  • Climate change mitigation: It would establish a detailed regulatory agenda directing the EPA to fulfill its obligations under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources, including finalizing its proposed standards for new or modified power plants and oil refineries, and developing standards for a variety of existing sources.
  • Planning for climate change adaptation: It would require agencies to consider how climate change will affect their proposed and ongoing activities and to design their actions in ways that ease, rather than exacerbate, the challenges faced by communities and ecosystems.
  • Dangerous imports: It would create a cabinet-level working group  to address the problems posed by imported foods, drugs, and consumer products and on ways to hold importers accountable for verifying the safety of their suppliers’ products .
  • Health and safety of children: An interagency Task Force would be created to developing and carrying out an affirmative agenda of coordinated regulatory actions to address high priority threats to the health and safety of children, starting with children’s workplace health and safety, asthma, toxic chemicals, and climate change.
  • Protect contingent workers – those who are not employed on a long-term contractual basis: The group wants existing OSHA programs to be tailored to meet the needs of this workforce. Additionally, a regulatory agenda would be established to protect contingent workers against musculoskeletal injuries.
  • Reform the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) so that it is aimed toward working proactively with agencies to help them achieve their statutory missions of protecting public health, safety, and the environment.
  • Restore the SBA Office of Advocacy’s focus on small businesses

The report was written by CPR Member Scholars Robert Glicksman, Amy Sinden, and Rena Steinzor, and Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Shudtz and Policy Analysts James Goodwin and Michael Patoka.

The report is available on CPR’s website at:

http://www.progressivereform.org/articles/Stroke_of_the_Pen_1215.pdf