OIRA

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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Economists vs. Environmentalists: Time for Deténte?

You don’t have to love economics to see it as a possible ally.

Cost-benefit analysis has long been the target of environmentalist ire.  But one lesson of the Trump years has been that economic analysis can be a source of support for environmental policy — it is the anti-regulatory forces who have to fudge the numbers to justify their actions.  Most energy and environmental economists are aghast at …

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Downgrading OIRA

The acting regulatory “czar” is the least experienced in history.

Overlooked amidst all the other news, the White House picked a new acting regulatory czar earlier this month. The acting Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is Paul Ray, who is very junior and a virtual unknown.  It’s difficult to imagine that he’s going to be very effective at telling cabinet officials …

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Regulatory Review in Anti-Regulatory Times: The Trump Administration

Cost-benefit analysis turns out to make very little difference when the issue is rolling back regulations.

In theory, cost-benefit analysis should be just as relevant when the government is deregulating as when it is imposing new regulations. But things don’t seem to work that way. This is the first of two blog posts analyzing how costs and benefits figured in decisions during the past two years of unified GOP control of …

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Pushing Back Against Presidential Power

It’s time to rethink the amount of power presidents have claimed over regulatory policy.

If there was ever a time to think hard about presidential power, that time is now. That’s a very broad question, but the part most relevant for this blog is the President’s role in controlling government regulation. There is no question that presidents have and will continue to have a huge influence on regulatory policy. …

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200 Days & Counting: Executive Orders

Trump loves issuing executive orders. Mostly, they don’t mean much.

Trump has issued a flood of executive orders. Many of them are “full of sound and fury. . . signifying nothing.” They actually concern actions that he doesn’t have the power to take himself. Instead, they relate to responsibilities that Congress gave to an administrative agency like EPA, not the White House.  There are a …

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200 Days & Counting: Pollution and Climate Change

Trump and Pruitt want to take an ax to EPA regulation. That will be harder than they think.

Rolling back EPA regulations is one of the Trump Administration’s priorities. The most notable example is Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aimed to cut CO2 emissions from power plants. The other rule that has gotten considerable attention is the so-called WOTUS rule, which defines federal jurisdiction to regulate wetlands and watersheds. But these are not …

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Will There Be Guerrilla War at EPA?

Scott Pruitt’s invasion of EPA probably won’t be met with flowers.

Scott Pruitt has spent his career at war with EPA, and he has now invaded the homeland. What he encounters may look more like a guerrilla war than a bureaucratic surrender. To be blunt, it’s generally a mistake to expect an invading force to be greeted with flowers and hugs from the grateful inhabitants. Agencies like …

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