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July 20, 2021

Dorothy Slater

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionClimateEthics in Government

FERC Nominee Must Be Independent From Utilities Driving Climate Crisis And Hurting Consumers

June 30th marked the last official day of Republican Neil Chatterjee’s term as a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Despite FERC’s obscurity, it is a critically important independent agency of the federal government that regulates the interstate transmission of oil, gas, and electricity, and reviews proposals to build gas terminals and pipelines. As of July 1st, a new commissioner nominated by President Biden and confirmed by the Senate could have stepped in, giving the five-seat board a Democratic majority. Biden has thus far failed to begin that process, so Chatterjee will remain serving an expired term until Biden appoints and the Senate confirms someone new.

July 16, 2021

Zena Wolf

Blog Post

Intellectual PropertyPatent and Trademark Office

Revolver Spotlight: Chris Coons

Rumors that Delaware Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) has had a hand in nominating the new U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director are extremely worrisome given Coons’ coziness with the Big Pharma industry and willingness to vote against his own party to benefit large corporations. Coons has a long record of proposing and passing legislation (often with far-right Republicans) to benefit Big Pharma companies, at the expense of consumers and small businesses. While harmful to the general public, Coons’ legislation has directly benefited his family’s medical device manufacturer, enriching himself. His record and blatant disregard for consumer welfare should exclude him from any conversations about executive branch personnel.

July 14, 2021

Zena Wolf

Blog Post

ClimateDepartment of JusticeEthics in GovernmentIndependent Agencies

Recent Leaks And Ongoing Litigation At The EPA Highlight The Importance Of Government Transparency

The Biden Administration has a historic opportunity to reverse the executive branch’s long-standing war on whistleblowers, and end the all-too-common (and sadly bipartisan) practice of villainizing whistleblowers and leakers to avoid accountability for government wrongdoing revealed by these actors.

July 13, 2021

Daniel Takash

Blog Post

2020 Election/TransitionIntellectual Property

GUEST CONTRIBUTION: What Can a New USPTO Director Do?

As of this writing, the Biden Administration has yet to announce a pick for director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. As Fatou Ndiaye has pointed out, this is likely due to behind-the-scenes tension between patent hawks in the Democratic caucus, specifically Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), and the broader progressive, reformist forces in the administration that made it possible for the United States to back a waiver on obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

July 07, 2021

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Department of Justice

Biden Labeled the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Decision a “Disappointment.” His Justice Department Failed to Oppose It.

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court dealt a near fatal blow to what remained of the Voting Right Act. Lawmakers, advocates, and commentators decried the decision, arguing that it will make challenging the wave of new voting restrictions emerging across the country much more difficult. In a statement, President Biden said that he was “deeply disappointed,” and concurred with Justice Elena Kagan’s assessment that the decision upholds “a significant race-based disparity in voting opportunities.”

July 07, 2021

Zena Wolf Dorothy Slater

Blog Post

BigLawClimateDepartment of Justice

Corporate BigLaw Is Infiltrating The DOJ, Jeopardizing Necessary Climate Action

There is no delicate way to put it: Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has been a striking failure so far. More than 10 percent of the way through this presidential term, Attorney General Merrick Garland has failed to remove Trump holdovers; is treating Trump as a completely typical president and refusing to prosecute his many crimes; is not reversing dangerous Trump-era legal positions; and is freely allowing corporate capture of his department.

Garland’s disappointing tenure is detrimental to progressive plans for many issues — criminal justice, police violence, labor rights, immigration, antitrust, and white collar crime prosecution, among others — but his potential to wreak havoc on necessary climate action is most staggering considering the existential stakes.

June 22, 2021

Eleanor Eagan

Blog Post

Independent Agencies

The State of Independent Agency Nominations - Update for Spring 2021

Over 10 percent of Biden’s presidential term has passed. Yet, despite notable accomplishments on COVD-19 relief, the Biden administration is still far from having maximized its potential impact, particularly when it comes to executive branch power. Nowhere is that more evident than at independent federal agencies, where Biden’s agenda has barely even begun to take root. With 10 percent of his term gone, Democrats have secured a majority on just three new independent agency boards.

June 14, 2021

Dorothy Slater

Blog Post

ClimateFinancial RegulationRevolving Door

BlackRock’s New Hire Embodies The Polluting Giant’s Revolving Door Regime

Asset management giant BlackRock most recently made the news for buying up huge tracts of U.S. housing stock to become, essentially, a massive corporate landlord at the expense of all the rest of us. (Seems like they are learning a thing or two from private equity firm Blackstone, to which they formerly belonged, which is infamous for its predatory and downright evil infiltration of the housing market.)

June 09, 2021

Elias Alsbergas

Blog Post

Department of JusticeEthics in Government

One Shockingly Easy Step For Government Transparency: Staff Pages

Anyone who’s ever filed a Freedom of Information Act request can tell you that the federal bureaucracy is shockingly opaque despite. This has real consequences for the public’s understanding of what their government actually does every day. Almost all public records requests require watchdogs to specifically identify documents and personnel they are interested in, often without knowing if those documents even exist or if those personnel even still work for the government. This poses a conundrum, however: how can watchdogs know what or whose records to request if they don’t even know who works in a department?