Independent Agencies

May 17, 2022

Mekedas Belayneh Dorothy Slater

Blog Post

ClimateExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

One Weird Trick To Prevent the TVA From Building New Gas Plants

The Tennessee Valley Authority, an independent agency of the federal government which acts as a public utility for over 10 million residents in and around Tennessee, announced in March that it would replace two aging coal-fired power plants with gas-powered plants. As the nation’s largest public utility company, the move goes against Biden’s goal to achieve a clean energy grid by 2035. TVA could be leading the charge for renewables, but its fossil fuel CEO Jeff Lyash, who comes out of fossil fuels, is instead choosing to lock in polluting gas for decades. This does not have to be the case. 

May 17, 2022

Press Release

Anti-MonopolyEthics in GovernmentIndependent AgenciesTech

Coalition Tells DOJ: Don’t Bend to Google’s Bullying, Grant Kanter a Recusal Waiver Now

The Revolving Door Project and 27 groups sent a letter to Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Friday, urging her to promptly issue a recusal waiver for Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter to work on the Department’s case against Google. The groups, including the American Economic Liberties Project, Demand Progress, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, emphasized that ethics law does not require Jonathan Kanter to recuse and that Google’s attempts to insist otherwise is an effort to “bully regulators into submission.” 

May 10, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Government CapacityIndependent AgenciesIRS

The IRS Has Finally Been Given The Power to Rebuild. It’s Not Enough.

In March, six months after the start of Fiscal Year 2022, Congress finally passed an omnibus funding agreement that brought agencies out from under the shadow of Trump-era austerity (although still fell far short of enacting the funding levels that most agencies require to meet their responsibilities to the public). Critically, in the case of at least one agency, the omnibus did not just grant the money to hire new staff, but the means to do so much more quickly. At the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Congress greenlit the use of direct hiring authorities to empower the agency to temporarily forgo some of the more onerous aspects of the federal hiring process as well as to facilitate a quick rebuilding of the IRS’ notoriously depleted ranks. With this designation, Congress acknowledged that staff shortages at the IRS had reached a state of emergency and thus acted accordingly. 

April 28, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Independent AgenciesIRS

Who Is The IRS’ Chief Counsel? Under Biden, No One.

enforcing the U.S. tax code. Much has been written regarding the IRS’ gutting over the years. The agency has been systematically defunded, deresourced, and attacked by political operatives for decades, at a grave cost to the basic functionality of our government, and to the benefit of only the richest Americans. These trends were only exacerbated under the Trump administration, which was hyper-focused on dismantling the tax system to benefit its corporate and billionaire cronies. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s destructive influence remains pervasive throughout the IRS, with Trump’s Commissioner, Charles Rettig, still installed as the governing head of the agency while finishing a 5-year term (at the pleasure of the president) set to expire in 2022.

April 25, 2022 | The New Republic

Mekedas Belayneh

Op-Ed

ClimateExecutive BranchIndependent AgenciesUSPS

How Biden Can Halt the U.S. Postal Service’s Gas-Guzzling Plan

Just days after his inauguration, President Biden promised to use the federal government’s procurement authority to achieve a zero-emission fleet of government vehicles. This spring, however, that’s led to a standoff with the United States Postal Service—an independent agency overseen by a Trump-aligned postmaster general who wants to replace 225,000 out-of-date mail delivery trucks with fresh gas-guzzlers, to the tune of $11.3 billion.

March 15, 2022 | The American Prospect

Hannah Story Brown

Op-Ed

ClimateCorporate CrackdownDepartment of JusticeEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

Where the Government’s Environmental Lawyers Stand

Joe Biden pledged that as president he would hold polluters accountable. But in 2021, the number of criminal cases against polluters referred to the Justice Department dropped even lower than the year before. At best, DOJ officials have set their sights on bringing environmental crime enforcement back up to Obama-era levels—but not exceeding them. That’s a decidedly muted goal; environmental crimes enforcement was higher under George W. Bush than Obama, and has always been underfunded.

March 11, 2022

Hannah Story Brown Dylan Gyauch-Lewis

Press Release

ClimateExecutive BranchFinancial RegulationIndependent AgenciesRevolving Door

Carbon Offset Legitimization Would Undermine Climate Progress, New Report Argues

The Revolving Door Project released a new “Industry Agenda” report today breaking down the systemic flaws and increasing relevance of the carbon offset industry as the favored greenwashing strategy for big industries and high-polluting nations. The report highlights the policies and executive branch agencies of interest to players in both voluntary and compliance carbon markets in the United States.