Influence Analytics: Climate change and narcotics occupy feds

Smoke stacks. Photo credit: Library of Congress

Calculating the social cost of carbon: In a report released August 25, the General Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the White House’s analysis of the politically charged “social cost of carbon” (reported here by Sunlight) estimate passes muster. The review was requested by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. and John Culberson, R-Texas, all harsh critics of President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat climate change. Vitter and Culberson count the oil and gas industry among their major donors: Vitter has gotten more than $1 million; and Culberson, nearly $600,000. Hunter’s top contributing industries include manufacturers, who have sent his campaigns more than $85,000. The 32-page report documents the by-the-book process used by the White House coordinating with other agencies to calculate the estimate, while also disclosing “several limitations of the estimates and areas that the working group identified as being in need of additional research.” (Credit: Scout, Influence Explorer.)

Restricting common narcotic pain killers: Vicodin and other common hydrocodone combination products prescribed widely to patients for pain will now be considered “class II” drugs subject to stricter regulation, according to a new final rule published by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on August 22. This action follow’s the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommendation last year that the drugs be reclassified because of increasing concern “about the abuse and misuse of opioid products, which have sadly reached epidemic proportions in certain parts of the United States.” While most of the commenters on the earlier proposed rule appeared to support the decision, not everyone was happy. For example, drug maker Actavis in April wrote the DEA, “if finalized, this action would impose significant and burdensome new regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions on companies that handle….HCPs.” These comments were prepared by one of the lobbying firms hired by the company, Arent Fox, whose lobbyists include former Rep. Phil English, R-Pa. Actavis has been in the news lately as a poster company for the controversial tax avoidance strategy of “tax inversion,” where a company locates base operations overseas to avoid paying full U.S. tax rates. (Credit: Docket Wrench, Influence Explorer.)

Comments still rolling in on greenhouse gases, cigars: Last week the Environmental Protection Agency received more than 3,000 more comments on a proposal to regulate greenhouse gases emitted by existing power plants, described in our report here. Overall, reports nearly 35,000 comments received since the proposal was issued in early July. Another top magnet for comments, garnering more than 4,700, was the FDA’s proposal to regulate cigars, as we reported here. (Credit: Docket Wrench.)