Analysis Sun, 05 Jul 2015 09:48:20 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-us Ethan Nadelmann Q & A with The Marshall Project: Why Smoking Bans in Prison Are Not The Answer

NEW YORK—(ENEWSPF)—July 2, 2015. Hundreds of inmates rioted in an Australian prison on June 30 in response to a cigarette smoking ban that was set to take hold at all 13 prisons in the state of Victoria. Tensions at the prison had reportedly been running high since earlier this month, when the facility stopped selling tobacco.

Such bans are already the norm in the United States.

The Marshall Project's Alysia Santo recently spoke with the Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann about the unintended consequences of tobacco bans in prison.

Below is the Q and A with Ethan and the Marshall Project and a piece from Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance titled Why Smoking Bans in Prison Are Not the Answer.  

The Marshall Project

The Case for Smoking in Prison; When cigarettes are outlawed, only outlaws have cigarettes. By Alysia Santo, July 1, 2015 -

Hundreds of inmates rioted in an Australian prison on June 30 in response to a cigarette smoking ban that was set to take hold at all 13 prisons in the state of Victoria. Tensions at the prison had reportedly been running high since earlier this month, when the facility stopped selling tobacco.

Such bans are already the norm in the United States. The Federal Bureau of Prisons removed tobacco from prison commissaries in 2006, and in January officially instituted rules prohibiting smoking and possession of tobacco, except as part of authorized religious activity. The case for outlawing smokes in prison is pretty much the same as the case for banning them anywhere else: cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other diseases for the smoker and those in proximity. But there is an argument *for *cigarettes in prison, asserts Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that advocates liberalizing America’s drug laws. The Marshall Project’s Alysia Santo recently spoke with Nadelmann about the unintended consequences of tobacco bans in prison. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Australia is one of many countries that are banning tobacco in detention facilities. In the U.S., most states already have restrictions, and 20 states are completely smoke and tobacco free, both indoors and out. Based on what we’ve seen here in the states, what should Australian prison officials expect?

It’s a lesson in economics 101. In prisons where cigarettes are banned, they sell for up to $20 each, and whole packs of cigarettes can sell for up to $200. This creates a major profit opportunity for gangs, who already have networks for smuggling other things, but cigarettes take it to another level in terms of the profit potential.

And this is also a source of corruption amongst prison employees. If you think from the perspective of a prison guard, they may never be willing to smuggle heroin or cocaine, because of the moral opprobrium associated with those. But when it comes to smuggling cigarettes, you’re violating the same laws of contraband, yet you can see how a lot of guards could say, “Well, what’s so terrible about selling a cigarette? I know I’m breaking the rules, but here I can make a little money. I smoke, he smokes, what’s the big deal?”

What about the needs of the nonsmoking inmates and correction officers who pushed for these bans in some places, citing their right to work and live free of second-hand smoke?

It seems to me there’s a fair element of hypocrisy in all of this. On the one hand, you have California, one of the first states to ban cigarettes in prison. Meanwhile, the entire California prison system is under the thumb of the federal courts because they have been violating the U.S. Constitution by not providing adequate health care to inmates. So to ban cigarettes and then become notorious because inmates are dying from a lack of health care, it makes you wonder, what do authorities really care about?

We can think about this even more broadly. All scientific evidence shows if you have people addicted to heroin, putting them on a methadone program increases the likelihood they will be healthy behind bars and decreases the likelihood they’ll go back to street drugs when they get out of prison. In Australia and Europe, methadone programs are standard operating procedure. But we don’t do that here.

It also makes me think about other health interventions that prisoners are denied access to. We know there’s a fair amount of sex behind bars, and in many prisons outside the U.S., condoms are provided. Even sterile syringes are available in recognition of the fact that inmates are accessing illegally obtained drugs, and one wants to avoid the spread of HIV or Hepatitis C. Those basic harm-reduction approaches are well grounded in public health and scientific evidence. But it’s something that we in the U.S., with our much more punitive approach to incarceration, haven’t allowed. And so I tend to see much of this smoking ban as being on its face about improving the health of inmates, but given the broader punitive thrust of incarceration in America, most of what’s going on with the tobacco ban is really about saying, let’s punish them. Let’s deny them things.

There’s very little research into the impact of these bans. Ohio prisons banned tobacco in 2009, and soon after, prisons director Gary Mohr reportedly asked his department to investigate whether an increase in violence was linked to the ban. When I requested the results of that inquiry, a corrections spokesperson told me they were unable to locate any actual studies into a possible link. Why do you think we know so little about the fallout of these bans?

There’s a real paucity of any serious research examining these prohibitions. Does it increase corruption and black markets? Do tobacco bans enrich prison gangs? Are there growing levels of violence associated with this? We don’t have solid answers on any of this stuff, and I think it’s a tragedy that there isn’t any good information.

There has to be an incentive for people to want to know. Since one of the likely outcomes of such a study would be to reveal higher levels of contraband and corruption than generally acknowledged, I can see all sorts of reasons why they would not want to come out with a report showing how that’s been impacted by bans on tobacco. If you’re in charge of a prison, do you want to issue a report that produces that kind of information?

Is there a smoking policy for prisons that would make sense to you?

Why not allow a smoking area where people could consume during certain hours? And to the extent that electronic cigarettes don’t pose a broader threat, why not allow those? There’s no second-hand consequence to those, and the harms to health are fairly minimal. People smoke cigarettes not only because they are addicted, but for the pleasure, the relaxation. And now that we see that many of the pleasures of tobacco can be taken in a vaporized form, why are we depriving people who are incarcerated of that pleasure? That opportunity to relax? That just seems about being punitive and cruel.

Related Material:

Huffington Post

Why Smoking Bans in Prison Are Not The Answer!, By: Tony Newman, March 30, 2010 -

According to a major story in USA Today last week, more than half of U.S. states have now banned smoking in their prisons.

The rationale that drives prisons to prohibit smoking is that it improves the heath of people behind bars and saves health care costs. While improving prisoners' health and saving scarce tax dollars are worthy goals, in reality these bans don't prevent prisoners from smoking -- but they do create a whole range of unintended consequences, none of which are discussed in the USA Today story.

Prohibition of drugs doesn't work in society or behind bars. Despite 40 years of a "war on drugs," marijuana and other drugs are as accessible as ever. The same is true behind bars. It is common knowledge that drug use is rampant in prison. It's ironic that drug war policies are premised on the promise of a "drug-free society," yet we can't even keep drugs out of maximum security prisons.

The prohibition of cigarettes doesn't stop smoking; it just hands over control of the commodity to the black market and causes prices to skyrocket. An Associated Press article in 2007 looked at the impact of California's ban on tobacco in prisons and found a burgeoning black market where a pack of smokes could fetch up to $125 dollars! The end result is that the drug trade around cigarettes becomes as violent as the drug trade around illicit drugs.

If we acknowledge that tobacco use -- like other drug use -- is inevitable, the next question should be: What will happen to people who are caught smoking cigarettes? We know that people behind bars are already excessively punished for illicit drug use. My colleague Anthony Papa at the Drug Policy Alliance just wrote a piece about Amir Varick Amma, who served five extra years behind bars for smoking a marijuana joint in prison. Are people going to be punished in the same ruthless and counterproductive ways for breaking the tobacco ban?

Instead of criminalizing a popular coping mechanism, the state should offer incarcerated smokers educational resources and a helping hand if they are interested in quitting. The cost of providing inmates with nicorette gum and nicotine patches would be far less expensive than adding more punitive sanctions to their already excessive time behind bars -- and it wouldn't create a new violent black market. As we learned with alcohol in the 1920s and through decades of the counterproductive war on drugs, regulation is more effective at promoting safety and health than prohibition.

Tony Newman is the Director of Media Relations at the Drug Policy Alliance (

Follow Tony Newman on Twitter:

San Francisco Chronicle

Tobacco ban in state prisons will create black market, violence, By Tony Newman, July 13, 2005  

On July 1, California adopted a new policy prohibiting cigarette smoking in all state prisons. The legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, was sold as a way to save millions of dollars in health- care costs and improve the health of all prisoners. While there is some logic to the pro-health/ fiscally responsible rhetoric, this new law won't prevent people from smoking; instead, it will increase violence behind bars.

Cigarettes are harmful, and there are real costs associated with treating cigarette smokers, but this policy is a case of the cure being worse than the disease. The ban will not eradicate cigarette smoking. It's painfully obvious that prohibition has not ridded our society of drugs, be it alcohol in the 1930s or marijuana today. Even putting someone in a prison cell doesn't keep him or her from obtaining and using drugs -- in fact, many inmates report starting to use illegal substances while locked up, out of depression or desperation.

Everything that is available on the street is available behind bars, at a very high price -- both in dollars and in lives. So while these policies do not deliver on their promise to eliminate drugs, they do generate collateral damage. The misperception is that drugs cause crime -- in reality, it is not the substance itself, but prohibition of it, that leads to violence.

When alcohol was illegal in the 1920s and '30s, not only did people drink, but there were shootouts over the manufacture and distribution of liquor. Today, such violence is largely unheard of. Same substance, different policies -- and vastly different body counts. Similarly, when someone who sells marijuana is killed by a rival dealer, it is not the substance that killed that person, it is the violence associated with making pot illegal and artificially inflating its price. The huge profits associated with illegal drugs attract unsavory characters to the industry. And the same will be true for tobacco: If cigarettes are made illegal inside or outside prison, there will be violence over the right to sell them.



]]> (Press Release) Analysis Thu, 02 Jul 2015 21:57:14 -0500
Damning New Analysis Reveals Deadly Lack of Police Training on Mental Illness

'On average, police shot and killed someone who was in mental crisis every 36 hours in the first six months of this year,' reveals Washington Post

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--June 30, 2015
Investigators with the LAPD stand at the scene after a homeless and mentally ill man was shot and killed on Skid Row by Los Angeles police in March. (Photo: File)

One quarter of the men and women shot and killed by police in the first six months of 2015 were "in the throes of mental or emotional crisis," according to a new analysis published by the Washington Post on Tuesday, suggesting that law enforcement officers lack training on how to deal with the mentally ill.

"On average, police shot and killed someone who was in mental crisis every 36 hours in the first six months of this year," write journalists Wesley Lowery, Kimberly Kindy, and Keith L. Alexander.

Responding to a dearth of federal data on such killings, the Post is compiling a database of every fatal shooting in the United States by a police officer in the line of duty in 2015, along with details about each incident—including the race of the deceased, the circumstances of the shooting, and whether the person was armed—sourced from local news reports and independent databases, such as Killed by Police and Fatal Encounters.

The Post database shows that in the first six months of this year, 461 people have been shot to death by police—including 123 killings "in which the mental health of the victim appeared to play a role, either because the person expressed suicidal intentions or because police or family members confirmed a history of mental illness," the Post reports.

The analysis continues:

Nearly a dozen of the mentally distraught people killed were military veterans, many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service, according to police or family members. Another was a former California Highway Patrol officer who had been forced into retirement after enduring a severe beating during a traffic stop that left him suffering from depression and PTSD.

And in 45 cases, police were called to help someone get medical treatment, or after the person had tried and failed to get treatment on his own.

For example, Common Dreams reported earlier this year on the shooting death of a homeless and mentally ill man in Los Angeles, who news outlets said had been living in a tent on Skid Row for a few months after spending a long stretch in a mental health facility. "That man never was a threat," one witness told the Los Angeles Times. "The amount of officers present at the time could have subdued him."

In interviews, the Post reports, current and former police chiefs cited insufficient or inappropriate training as well as "severe budget cuts for psychiatric services" as reasons for the deadly encounters. 

"This a national crisis," Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told the Post. "We have to get American police to rethink how they handle encounters with the mentally ill. Training has to change."

Read the entire Post analysis here.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License




]]> (Press Release) Analysis Tue, 30 Jun 2015 20:22:33 -0500
Beyond Marriage: How More than Half of States Allow for Discrimination Against LGBT Americans


Corbin Aoyagi, a supporter of gay marriage, waves his flag during a rally at the Utah State Capitol, Tuesday, January 28, 2014. SOURCE: AP/Rick Bowmer

Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--June 30, 2015.  Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges last week extending marriage equality throughout the nation, more than half of states still allow discrimination against many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, Americans in vital areas of life. Americans living in these states can be legally married on Sunday and legally fired from their jobs, thrown out of a restaurant, evicted from their homes, or denied a loan on Monday simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Center for American Progress has released an updated infographic bringing attention to the problem and calling for Congress to pass comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation that would protect LGBT Americans nationwide.

“The Supreme Court’s decision ensures that the freedom to marry applies to all couples, in every state,” said Laura E. Durso, Director of CAP’s LGBT Research and Communications Project. “However, the Court’s decision does not grant protections from discrimination for LGBT workers, customers, students, renters, and homebuyers, many of whom still face pervasive, legal discrimination across the country. This is a national problem that requires a national solution, which is why Congress needs to pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination law to fully provide the same ‘equal dignity in the eyes of the law’ that Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote about in the marriage equality decision.”

The infographic’s key facts include the following:

Twenty-eight states lack protections for LGB Americans from discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, education, access to credit, and public accommodations.

Thirty-one states lack the same protections for transgender Americans.

Click here to view the infographic.

Related resources:

  • We the People by Sarah McBride, Laura E. Durso, Hannah Hussey, Sharita Gruberg, and Bishop Gene Robinson




]]> (Press Release) Analysis Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:12:12 -0500
New Center for American Progress Analysis Contrasts Student Loan Debt with College Completion in all 50 States and the District of Columbia

college graduation commencement

Students participate in commencement exercises. SOURCE: AP/Brad Doherty

Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--June 26, 2015.  A new analysis from the Center for American Progress that contrasts student loan debt with college completion rates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia found that the average debt of student borrowers can often be misleading because in some states, small debt burdens for borrowers look much worse given low levels of postsecondary attainment. In other states, CAP’s analysis finds a high average debt for borrowers may not be as concerning because so many residents are earning postsecondary degrees.

“While there has been a lot of attention paid—and rightly so—to the enormous student debt problem in the United States, not all loans are inherently bad. It’s important to look at student loans in the context of college completion, especially since borrowers who earn degrees are far less likely to default on their loans than borrowers who drop out,” said Ben Miller, Senior Director for Postsecondary Education at CAP.

CAP found that some states and territories, such as the District of Columbia and Virginia, have average debt per borrower rates that exceed the national average but also have high attainment rates that outstrip other states in the nation. Maryland, Vermont, Florida, and Colorado also fit into this category. Alternatively, states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Indiana, and Arkansas present the opposite scenario: low levels of debt among borrowers but low attainment rates as well.

As part of the analysis, CAP generated a sortable Excel file comparing debt per borrower with debt per college graduate in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Click here to see the file.

Read “The Relationship Between Student Debt and College Completion” by Ben Miller.




]]> (Press Release) Analysis Fri, 26 Jun 2015 20:48:14 -0500
Study: 1.3 Million Will Travel by Bus Over 2015 July Fourth Holiday

Chaddick Institute at DePaul University tracks U.S. intercity bus trends

The National Trailways bus station’s neon marquee illuminates Randolph Street in 1986. Bus travel is on the rise again decades later, and an estimated 1.3 million are expected to travel via bus for the July Fourth holiday. Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, documents Chicago’s bus depots in his book “Terminal Town.” (Photo by Mel Bernero)

CHICAGO —(ENEWSPF)—June 25, 2015. A long holiday weekend, budget fares and the convenience of a new GPS tracking system will draw more than 1.3 million passengers to intercity bus travel during the July Fourth holiday, according to the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. Researchers forecast a 6 percent increase in ridership compared to this time last year.

“Summer is already a busy time for bus travel, but this holiday may bring record-setting volumes,” said Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute. “Buses are the mode of choice for many travelers on short trips, particularly on routes of five hours or less.”

The Chaddick Institute presents this data to offer comparisons with air and automobile travel during major holidays. Highlights from the report include:

Ridership at a decade high for the holiday: An estimated 1,312,905 passengers will make trips of 50 miles or more by bus, surpassing all previous Fourth of July holidays over the past ten years.  July 2, a Thursday, is expected to be the busiest day for bus travel.

Greyhound customers can track bus arrival using GPS: This is the first holiday when travelers on Greyhound, the largest provider of intercity bus transportation, can use BusTracker, a GPS tracking system that allows customers to see where their bus is and when it will arrive at their destination.

Budget options attract passengers: Less than a week before the holiday, peak-hour departures were available between New York City and Washington, D.C., for $37 each way, while Chicago to Detroit fares and Portland to Seattle one-way fares were $38 and $28, respectively.

Daily bus operations are up: The number of daily scheduled operations by intercity conventional and discount city-to-city bus lines together grew by 2.1 percent during normal travel periods between 2014 and 2015.

The Chaddick Institute reached these estimates using its own Intercity Bus Data Set and bookings data from, a company that aggregates bus ticket sales online. The full report and methodology are available at



]]> (Press Release) Analysis Thu, 25 Jun 2015 22:39:16 -0500
New Center for American Progress Column and Infographic Reveal Religious Americans’ Views on Climate Change and Call Policymakers to Action

Pope Francis

Pope Francis delivers a blessing at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square on June 24, 2015. SOURCE: AP/Riccardo DeLuca

Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--June 25, 2015.  Following last week’s release of Pope Francis’s second encyclical “Laudato Si,” the Center for American Progress released a column today demonstrating the potential effect the document could have on domestic environmental policy. The column also highlights how the encyclical builds upon a long history of faith-based environmental activism and calls on policymakers to act on the issue of climate change.

“Leading climate scientists agree that as the climate continues to warm, the negative effects on the global ecosystem will intensify,” said Myriam Alexander-Kearns, Research Associate for the Energy Policy team at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the column. “Vulnerable communities that lack the resources necessary to prepare for and recuperate from these increasingly severe weather events are at greatest risk.”

CAP also released an infographic on religious Americans’ views and opinions on climate change. The infographic reveals that more than 8 in 10 religious Americans feel a responsibility to “protect future generations, respect and take care of the earth, and prevent human suffering and harm.”

“’Laudato Si’ reinforces that the need for sustained climate action is not just backed by science—it’s a moral imperative,” said Claire Markham, Outreach Manager for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the column. “Communities of faith are in the unique position of being able to inspire both the public and policymakers to meaningfully act on climate issues that affect the entire global family.”

The eager acknowledgment of Pope Francis’s second encyclical represents an opportunity for worldwide religious and environmental advocacy organizations to work together to advance their shared goals for the planet and its citizens.

Click here to read the column.

Click here to view the infographic.




]]> (Press Release) Analysis Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:54:43 -0500
New Report Shows How State Future Funds Will Help States Fund Low-Carbon and Resilient Infrastructure Projects

train station

People wait to board a train to New York City at the Trenton train station in Trenton, New Jersey, July 2014. SOURCE: AP/Mel Evans

Washington, D.C. –-(ENEWSPF)--June 23, 2015.  Expanding on a proposal first put forward in a column earlier this year, the Center for American Progress has released an in-depth report into how Congress can pair federal resources with state, local, and private sector dollars to modernize the nation’s aging infrastructure. Known as State Future Funds, this funding mechanism can provide states and cities with the capital they need to make low-carbon and resilient energy and transportation infrastructure improvements that guard against extreme weather events connected to climate change and help reduce carbon pollution.

State Future Funds would combine government and private resources to offer a host of public benefits, including improving public health and air quality, reducing traffic congestion and climate change risks, and increasing community access to good jobs, schools, and other valuable public services. Investments through State Future Funds would also help states comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which calls on states to reduce fossil fuel reliance and increase the use of clean energy resources.

“State and local governments—and communities—are on the front lines when it comes to coping with crumbling infrastructure, traffic congestion, air pollution, more extreme weather, and growing inequities,” said Cathleen Kelly, CAP Senior Fellow and author of the report. “Congress has the ability to provide state and local officials with a remedy to these pressing challenges. By creating State Future Funds, Congress can maximize resources from all levels of government and the private sector to build 21st century infrastructure, increase access to jobs and clean and reliable energy, and prepare our states and localities for the very real dangers posed by climate change.”

The report outlines how Congress can design State Future Funds to help states and localities support a wide range of low-carbon and resilient energy and transportation infrastructure projects. Those design features include a way for states to offer low-interest or interest-free loans and provide loan guarantees to support smart energy and transportation infrastructure projects and planning. The report also recommends that states develop State Future Fund investment plans through meaningful engagement with local leaders, the public, and private stakeholders, including low-income communities and American Indian tribes who are likely to be the most acutely affected communities in the event of extreme climate change related weather.

Each state would share the cost of these investments by contributing to their State Future Fund at least 20 percent of the annual capitalization grant made to the state. Each state would be required to invest at least 30 percent of its annual capitalization grant in low-income areas.

Click here to read “State Future Funds: Jumpstarting Investments in Low-Carbon and Resilient Energy and Transportation Infrastructure” By Cathleen Kelly



]]> (Press Release) Analysis Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:16:30 -0500
CEOs Made 303 Times More than Typical Workers in 2014

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--June 22, 2015. CEOs in the 350 largest U.S. firms were paid an average of $16.3 million in 2014, or 303 times more than the typical worker, according to Top CEOs Make 300 Times More than Typical Workers: Pay Growth Surpasses Stock Gains and Wage Growth of Top 0.1 Percent. This CEO-to-worker pay ratio far exceeds that in earlier years—for example, the ratio was just 20-to-1 in 1965, 30-to-1 in 1978 and 59-to-1 in 1989. In the report, EPI president Lawrence Mishel and research assistant Alyssa Davis find that CEO compensation has increased 997 percent over the last 36 years, a rise nearly double the stock market growth and substantially greater than the 10.9 percent wage growth experienced by typical workers during the same period.

“The fact that executives’ wages have grown faster than those of the top 0.1 percent of wage earners means that this isn’t a matter of a market demand for talent. This growth isn’t happening because CEOs are being exceptionally productive—they simply have more power over what they’re paid,” Mishel said. “Since this is the case, reducing or taxing executive compensation won’t have an adverse impact on economic output or employment.”

The continued rise of CEO compensation has pulled up the pay of other executives and managers and been a major factor fueling the growth of top 1 and 0.1 percent incomes, thereby increasing income inequality. CEOs also out-earn other very-high-wage earners—over the last three decades, the rise in CEO compensation relative to the pay of other very-high-wage earners far exceeded the rise in wages of college graduates relative to those of high school graduates. In 2013, CEOs earned 5.8 times more than the top 0.1 percent of wage earners.

“CEO pay is not a symbolic issue—it has real consequences for the vast majority of wage earners. The rising pay of executives reflects wages that could have otherwise gone to workers and has fueled inequality in the United States,” said Davis. “Despite a booming stock market and the fact that profits have reached record highs, the wages of most workers are still stagnant and have been for over a decade.”

Mishel and Davis suggest numerous ways to curtail executive pay growth, including higher marginal income tax rates on top earners and removing the tax break for executive performance pay. Corporate tax rates for firms that have higher ratios of CEO-to-worker compensation could also be set higher. Finally, greater use of “say on pay” by corporate governance would allow shareholders to vote on top executives’ compensation.


The study measures the compensation of CEOs in the largest firms and includes how much the CEO realized in that particular year by exercising stock options available. The options-realized measure reflects what CEOs report as their Form W-2 wages for tax reporting purposes and is what they actually earned in a given year. This is the measure most frequently used by economists. In addition to stock options, the compensation measure includes salary, bonuses, restricted stock grants, and long-term incentive payouts. The ratio of CEO-to-worker compensation is measured for each of the largest 350 firms: the ratio of the CEOs’ compensation to the annual compensation (wages and benefits) of full-time, full-year workers in the key industry of the firm (data on the pay of workers in any particular firm are not available). Full methodological details and benchmarking to other studies can be found in Methodology for Measuring CEO Compensation and the Ratio of CEO-to-Worker Compensation, 2012 Data Update.



]]> (Press Release) Analysis Mon, 22 Jun 2015 17:54:56 -0500
Center for American Progress Review Finds Oil Royalty Rate on Federal Lands is 50 Percent Lower Than on Private Lands

Permian Basin

This April 2014 photo shows oil rigs in the Loco Hills field in Eddy County, New Mexico, one of the most active regions of the Permian Basin. SOURCE: AP/Jeri Clausing

Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--June 19, 2015.  A Center for American Progress review of oil and gas leasing terms on federal, state, and private lands found that the Bureau of Land Management’s, or BLM’s, royalty rate for oil and gas drilling on taxpayer-owned public lands is in many cases 50 percent lower than the royalty rates being charged by private landowners. The federal government’s royalty rate is also half what the U.S.’s largest energy-producing state, Texas, charges companies that drill on state-owned lands.

The CAP review adds to a growing body of evidence that the federal government’s royalty, rental, bidding, and bonding policies are failing to adequately protect the financial interests of U.S. taxpayers and energy-producing states. A report released yesterday by the Center for Western Priorities estimates that outdated royalty policies are responsible for up to $730 million per year in lost revenue for taxpayers and energy-producing states.

“The oil and gas industry and its technologies have grown by leaps and bounds in the past century, but the federal government’s royalty policies are frozen in the 1920s,” said Nicole Gentile, the Director of Campaigns for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress. “From a business perspective, the shareholders of America’s public lands—U.S. taxpayers—aren’t receiving a fair share from the development of their resources.”

On April 17, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced a top-to-bottom review of the BLM’s oil and gas revenue policies and launched an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, or ANPR, to solicit feedback on potential changes to the agency’s royalty, rental, bonus bid, and bonding rules. The public comment period for the ANPR closes today.

The private oil and gas leases uncovered and examined by CAP require that companies pay the landowner 25 percent of the value of the resource extracted. The Bureau of Land Management collects only a 12.5 percent royalty for drilling on national forests and other public lands, while the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management collects an 18.75 percent royalty for offshore drilling in the federal Outer Continental Shelf.

The CAP review identified several other deficiencies in the federal government’s oil and gas policies. The federal government’s bonding requirements—or insurance to protect taxpayers from the costs of cleaning up old and abandoned wells—haven’t been updated in more than 50 years. If adjusted for inflation, the bonding requirements would be 800 to 1,000 percent higher today. Further, companies are only required to pay $1.50 per acre in rental fees to maintain their right to drill for up to 10 years; this compares unfavorably with the state of Texas, which increases its rental fee to $2,500 per acre in the third year of a lease to incentivize early production.

The CAP issue brief notes that it is not only U.S. taxpayers who are being shortchanged by current policies; the state in which the development is occurring receive about half of the revenue from oil and gas extraction on public land, which funds schools, infrastructure, and other priorities.

Click here to read “Federal Oil and Gas Royalty and Revenue Reform” By Nicole Gentile




]]> (Press Release) Analysis Fri, 19 Jun 2015 16:59:11 -0500
Watch: Top 10 Things You Need to Know about Pope Francis' 'Laudato Si'

Pope Francis' highly-anticipated environmental encyclical has arrived and Fr. James Martin, S.J., presents the ten things you need to know about it.

James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large at America and author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage. This is an abridged version of an essay appearing today in America. 

]]> (Staff) Analysis Fri, 19 Jun 2015 02:42:40 -0500