Cost Benefit Analysis

The Regulatory Process: FAQs

Here’s an explainer on how federal regulations get issued and reviewed by courts.

Even most lawyers, let alone the rest of the population, are a bit fuzzy on how the regulatory system works.  As the Biden Administration is gearing up to start a slew of regulatory proceedings, here’s what you need to know about the process. Issuing Regulations Q:  Where do agencies like EPA get the power to …

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Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Biden EPA

The recent rescission of  a Trump rule hints at how the Biden Administration views the role of cost-benefit analysis.

In its closing days, the Trump Administration issued a rule designed to tilt EPA’s cost-benefit analysis of air pollution regulations in favor of industry. Last week, EPA rescinded the rule.  The rescission was no surprise, given that the criticisms of the Trump rule by economists as well as environmentalists. EPA’s explanation for the rescission was …

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Recalculating the Cost of Climate Change

The Biden Administration has already started to revisit this important issue.

“The social cost of carbon” isn’t exactly a household phrase. It’s an estimate of the harm caused by emitting a ton of CO2 over the many decades it remains in the atmosphere.  That’s an important factor in calculating the costs and benefits of climate regulations. For an arcane concept, it has certainly caused a lot …

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Biden and Regulatory Review

Big changes may be coming to White House regulatory oversight.

President Biden seems to be poised to dramatically change how the White House reviews proposed agency regulations. I argued in a recent post that it would be better  to expand the focus of  regulatory review beyond cost-benefit analysis to include important values such as social justice and environmental quality. Biden may be moving in that …

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Reinventing Cost-Benefit Analysis

If the goal is to give decision makers the tools to make better decision, a single-dimensional metric isn’t the way to go.

One key issue facing Biden on January 20 will be the role of the the White House regulatory czar. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is a tiny White House agency that is virtually unknown to the public. Yet it exercises outsized influence. OIRA is charged with screening all proposed government regulations using a strict …

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Environmentalists v. Cost-Benefit Analysis: What Does the Future Hold?

For now, at least, environmentalists and economists are aligned in criticizing Trump’s rollbacks. Will this alliance last?

If it’s true that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” environmentalists might want to take another look at cost-benefit analysis.  The Trump Administration is certainly doing its best to gut economic analysis of its rollbacks.  Both economists and environmentalists are resisting. Is this an alliance of convenience or will it be the start …

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DC Circuit Restricts “Housekeeping” Regulations

The Trump Administration likes to justify policy initiatives based on vague grants of authority. That’s just become harder.

Earlier today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decided two cases that add to the legal difficulties the Trump EPA will face in court.  The difficulties relate to two proposed EPA rules that attempt to hamstring  future efforts to impose tighter restrictions on pollution. Both EPA rules rely on vague, general grants of rule-making authority …

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Trump EPA Takes Aim at Cost Benefit Analysis; Misses

The proposed new EPA regulation on cost-benefit analysis seems to be a dud.

An EPA rule-making on cost-benefit analysis was supposed to be a big win for conservatives and industry. They want to rig cost-benefit analysis by counting all of a regulation’s costs but only some of the benefits.  But the EPA proposal issued last week appears to give them only a token victory. The issue involves what are …

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Reducing Coronavirus Fatalities: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

Q: From an economic perspective, what’s it worth spending to curb the pandemic? A: A lot.

At an extremely rough estimate, it would be worth spending about $4 trillion to cut the coronavirus death rate in half.

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Low-Hanging Fruit

A powerful metaphor can be illuminating, but it can also be highly misleading.

The idea of long-hanging fruit is ubiquitous in environmental policy — sometimes in the form of a simple metaphor, other times expressed in more sophisticated terms as an assumption of rising marginal costs of pollution reduction. It’s an arresting metaphor, and one that can often be illuminating. But like many powerful metaphors, it can also …

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