Technical policy questions often involve ethical political questions that the public must have a say in
As vaccination for the coronavirus in the United States ramps up, I want to take a look back to a policy dispute over the initial plans for vaccine distribution at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 – in part because that fight (like “follow the science,” which I blogged about recently) also …CONTINUE READING
Experts will no longer be pariahs under Biden. But will their voices be heard?
One of the abiding issues in governance is the balance between democratic leadership and experts. We don’t want government solely by technocrats. Nor do we want government steered solely by ideology and politics, as under Trump. Biden will be a vast improvement, but there’s still some question about whether he’ll get the balance right. I …CONTINUE READING
Science is necessary, but not sufficient, for good policymaking
In the wake of the poor performance of the Trump Administration’s efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, there has been advice that the Biden Administration should “follow the science” in developing its coronavirus policies and strategies. While an emphasis on a clean break from the prior Administration’s rejection of the nature …CONTINUE READING
Members of the Trump Administration speak their own, very special language.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” The Trump Administration’s …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
Yet another effort to ignore reality, from the usual players.
We’ve seen this movie before. Scientists warn of a serious threat. But in Trump World, the problem doesn’t exist. It’s just a product of alarmism. First, climate change. Now, the coronavirus, COVID-19. Trump himself has worked hard to minimize the problem. “We have very few people with it,” he said, and ” people are getting …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
Even for deregulators, the latest rollback makes no sense.
The Washington Post reported this morning that EPA is getting ready to roll back yet another Obama Administration climate regulation — this time, one regulating natural gas leaks. I wanted to add a brief postscript to Ken Alex’s post on this. What struck me most immediately was the sheer economic weirdness of making this rollback …CONTINUE READING
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 …CONTINUE READING
Ignoring co-benefits violates well-established legal principles.
The Trump Administration is moving toward the view, long popular in industry, that when it regulates a pollutant, EPA can consider only the health impacts of that particular pollutant – even when the regulation will also reduce other harmful pollutants. This idea is especially important in climate change regulation, because cutting carbon emissions almost always …CONTINUE READING