OIRA

Vacancy

A Key White House regulatory office has remained unfilled for a record time.

The Biden Administration is looking to make big regulatory changes, not least regarding climate change. Yet the White House office overseeing regulations is vacant. The obscurely named Office of Regulatory Affairs and Information (OIRA) has to sign off on all significant regulations. Even the dilatory Donald Trump had nominated a permanent administrator by July of …

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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 Last week, EPA rescinded the rule.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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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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Rethinking Presidential Administration

Giving the President more control of regulation has been a good thing — up to a point.

Conservatives love to complain about faceless bureaucrats, but blaming bureaucrats for regulations is hopelessly out of date.  When Elena Kagan was a professor, she wrote an article called “Presidential Administration.”  The article applauded her former boss Bill Clinton for seizing greater control of the regulatory process away from agencies. That trend has accelerated to the …

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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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Enforcing NEPA’s Forgotten Mandate

The courts have failed to enforce a core requirement of NEPA. That leaves the White House.

The Democrats have adopted an ambitious platform for environmental protection, full of innovative legislative initiatives.  Here’s another idea Biden and Harris should consider, making use of the oldest of the modern environmental statutes. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is best known for requiring environmental impact statements. While they have enforced that requirement, the courts …

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Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Next President

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 …

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love OIRA

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 …

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Unanswered Questions About Cost-Benefit Analysis

We have only fragmentary evidnece about how CBA actually functions in government decision-making.

Considering that people have been debating cost-benefit analysis at least since Reagan mandated its use in 1981, you would think we would have the answers to some basic questions about how it works.  Yet we have very fragmentary information, generally based on the perspevtives of people at the agencies or in the White House Office …

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