Five Ideas for Regulatory Reformers

Duke is hosting a conference on Monday (10-4 ET) about conservative approaches to environmental protection.  (livestream here).  Here are a few ideas to throw into the mix:

1.  Streamline interstate compact approval for multistate environmental efforts.  This would help move authority from Washington and would provide states a better mechanism for dealing with problems that cross state lines.  One possibility would be a fast-track legislative process conditioned on EPA approval.

2.  Streamline environmental impact statements but require monitoring and mitigation after the project begins.  Environmental scholars have discussed this idea for several years, and it could expedite project approval while actually improving environmental results.

3.  Broaden EPA and state authority to use cap-and-trade in place of conventional regulation. If implemented properly, cap-and-trade can reduce compliance costs and give industry more flexibility, without lessening environmental protection. EPA’s current efforts to do this are mired in litigation. Cap and trade isn’t always an appropriate tool, and it does need to be designed carefully.  But there’s room for beneficially expanding its use.

4.  Strengthen the ability of Congress to assess costs and benefits.  This would entail giving GAO the resources to review OMB’s cost-benefit analysis for the most important regulations.  Perhaps CBO could also be given the capacity to report on major environmental legislation in terms of cost and benefits, just as it now does in terms of budget impact. Whatever you think about cost-benefit analysis as a decision method, it wouldn’t hurt for Congress to be better informed about regulatory costs and benefits.

5.  Expand assessment of regulatory impacts.  Conservatives say that regulations produce heavy costs and small benefits. Liberals disagree.  O.K., let’s find out!  This requires putting more money into environmental monitoring and research on economic impacts.


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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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