regulatory policy

The Black Box of OIRA

OIRA oversees the whole regulatory state. We probably know more about the inner workings of the CIA.   

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) oversees government regulation across the federal government. Some portray it as a guardian of rationality, others as biased in favor of industry.  Public information about OIRA is so limited that it’s impossible to know one way or the other, due to the veil of secrecy that surrounds …

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Aggregating the Harms of Fossil Fuels

They’re even worse than you probably thought.

The decision at the Glasgow climate conference to phase down fossil fuels is an important step forward — and not just because of climate change.  We think of fossil fuels as a source of climate change, but that’s only a one part of the problem. From their extraction to their combustion, everything about them is …

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When Agencies Fail  

Lives can be lost when agencies fall down on the job.

What happens when agencies fail in their jobs? People can die. The most dramatic example is the opioid crisis, in which a whole series of state and federal agencies fell short.  The result has been hundreds of thousands of deaths. The FDA was one of the prime culprits. It bought into a myth, carefully cultivated …

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Small Cannabis Growers and Large Red Tape?

A complicated cannabis regulatory system may be squeezing out small cannabis cultivators

In a prior blog post, I discussed how California’s experiment in legalizing cannabis has not been as effective as hoped for in bringing cultivators into the legal regulatory system. Low levels of compliance might be undermining the possibility of improved environmental outcomes – proponents of legalization argued that bringing formerly illegal cannabis cultivation into a …

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Diagnosing Why More Growers Aren’t In California’s Cannabis System

Understanding why more outdoor cultivators aren’t entering into the new legal regulatory system for cannabis is important for reducing the environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation

When California voters legalized cannabis in 2016, a key argument for legalization was that legalization would benefit the environment. If cannabis growers necessarily operated outside the law, then they had little incentive to comply with environmental regulatory standards. Instead, cannabis growers might trespass on private and public lands, cause significant damage to habitat, use illegal …

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When “Stay In Your Lane” Is Wrong

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 …

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Expertise versus Politics Under Biden

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 …

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The problem with “follow the science”

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 …

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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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