Cost Benefit Analysis
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 …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
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.CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
If it’s Trump, we’ll see more of the same. But what if a Democrat wins?
Under executive orders dating back to Reagan, regulatory agencies like EPA are supposed to follow cost-benefit analysis in making decisions. Under the Trump Administration, however, cost-benefit analysis has barely even served as window-dressing for its deregulatory actions. It has launched a series of efforts to prevent full counting of regulatory benefits, as well as committing …CONTINUE READING
OIRA may have had its problems. What we have right now is much worse.
If you’re like most environmentalists, you probably don’t have a high opinion of OIRA, the White House office that’s supposed to oversee regulations. (For those who are new to this, OIRA stands for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.) The complaints are legion: that OIRA lacks transparency, that it acts as a back door …CONTINUE READING