Here’s the problem: Credit rating companies have long contended that their conclusions are protected by the First Amendment, much as if their ratings were as irrelevant to the markets as, say, your average financial column. Dodd-Frank tried to change that, designating the agencies “experts,” just like lawyers or accountants, when their ratings were included in S.E.C. documents for certain kinds of offerings. That would make them liable for material errors and omissions in their ratings.
Eighteen months after the Environmental Protection Agency announced reforms to its controversial process for evaluating health hazards posed by dangerous chemicals, significant problems continue to hamper the program and leave the public at risk, according to a new report by a nonprofit research group.