Does OIRA Live Up To Its Own Standards?

OIRA should conduct a cost-benefit analysis of its own activities and explore alternatives to its current oversight methods.

A White House office called OIRA polices regulations by other agencies in the executive branch.  OIRA essentially performs the role of a traditional regulator – it issues regulations that bind other agencies, and agencies need OIRA approval before they can issue their own regulations.  Essentially, then OIRA regulates agencies like EPA the same way that …


The Lost World of Administrative Law

The regulatory process has become more opaque and less accountable. We need to fix that.

Every year, thousands of law students take a course in administrative law.  It’s a great course, and we wish even more students took it.  But there’s a risk that students may come away with a vision of the regulatory process that is increasingly disconnected with reality.  Worse, the leading judicial opinions on the subject suggest …


Executive Order calls for climate adaptation

Presidential directive holds potential to move federal adaptation efforts forward, but implementation will be the key.

Cross-posted at The Berkeley Blog. Today, President Obama issued an Executive Order intended “to prepare the Nation for the impacts of climate change by undertaking actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience.” In some respects, this order simply continues ongoing efforts. Under this administration, the executive branch has already been doing a great deal of …


EPA Sends Climate Rules for New Power Plants to OMB

Though I was somewhat skeptical that the  Obama climate plan unfurled last week included much new, I’ve also argued previously that if the administration uses its extensive power under the Clean Air Act to regulate both new and existing power plants, the President will really have accomplished something on the climate change front.  It looks …


What’s holding up the Clean Water Act jurisdictional guidance?

Cross-posted on CPRBlog. People on both sides of the political spectrum agree that the boundaries of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act are murky, to say the least. But efforts by EPA and the Corps of Engineers to clarify those boundaries have been tied up in the White House for more than a year, …


A Strong OIRA Pick

I was traveling and missed the news about the selection of Howard Shelanski to replace Cass Sunstein as head of OIRA, the White House office that oversees government regulations.  Or, regulatory czar, in simpler terms. He’s a terrific pick. Howard was on the faculty here when I first came to Berkeley and got to know …


Confessions of a Regulatory Czar

The official title of the White House’s regulatory czar is deceptively abstruse, the Director of the the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  But OIRA plays a crucial role in government policy by reviewing all major proposed regulations.  Environmentalists have long decried OIRA as a place …


OMB’s Dubious Claim to Regulatory Expertise

The head of OIRA – the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB– is often called the White House’s regulation czar.  OIRA is charged with reviewing the cost-benefit analysis of all major government regulations.  This task is all about economics. Yet OIRA has never established the kind of reputation for economics expertise held by …


The Precarious Legality of Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-benefit analysis has become a ubiquitous part of regulation, enforced by the Office of Management and Budget.  A weak cost-benefit analysis means that the regulation gets kicked back to the agency.  Yet there is no statute that provides for this; it’s entirely a matter of Presidential dictate.  And reliance on cost-benefit analysis often flies in …


Law School News: Sunstein Returns to Harvard

The White House announced that Cass Sunstein will be leaving OMB at the end of the month to return to Harvard Law School.  Sunstein was not popular with environmentalists– I have heard people say that he was worse than some of the OMB heads who served under Republican presidents.  He also doesn’t seem to have …