regulatory policy

The Deregulator’s Dictionary

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 …

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Reducing Coronavirus Fatalities: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

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.

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Virus Denial

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 …

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Low-Hanging Fruit

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 …

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Helter Skelter

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 …

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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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The Case for Co-Benefits

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 …

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Ten Environmental Lessons of 2017

We’ve learned a lot in the past year, some good, a lot bad.

No one can say it’s been a boring year.  In many ways, it’s been a worse year than we expected, because the Trump Administration has gone all in on its anti-environmental vision.  But there have also been some heartening positive developments.  Here are some of the most important things, good and bad, that we’ve learned …

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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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When EPA Pays Lip Service to Public Comment, the Environmental Community Steps Up

Environment and public health advocates voice their concerns about EPA’s regulatory reform efforts under EO 13777

The public health and environmental communities took a small victory on an EPA conference call yesterday. In a three-hour public comment call that could have been dominated by industry seeking regulatory rollbacks, about half of the speakers supported strengthening environmental and public health protections. And many of them took EPA to task for such a …

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