regulatory policy

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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The End of the Cost-Benefit State?

Trump is targeting regulations for elimination even if their benefits exceed their costs.

Some scholars have proclaimed a vision of the regulatory state centering on cost-benefit analysis (CBA). They mean that quantitive comparisons of costs and benefits is now the foundation of regulatory decisions, arguably blessed by the Supreme Court in one of Scalia’s last opinions. Environmentalists weren’t convinced this was a good idea.  Neither, as it turns out, is Donald Trump.  He doesn’t seem …

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It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

Reagan, Gingrich, Bush — and Now Trump. This is a battle we’ve fought before.

As the choice of Scott Pruitt to head EPA confirms, we’re about to face a radical attack on environmental protection. We’ve seen this movie before. Three times, actually, starring Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, and George W. Bush. So this feels in a way like the fourth installment in a horror film franchise. Call it “Return of the …

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TSCA Update: EPA Selects First 10 Chemicals for Risk Evaluation

Asbestos included in first 10 chemicals EPA will evaluate for human and environmental risks under TSCA

Today EPA released a list of the first ten chemicals it will evaluate for risks to human health and the environment under the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  These ten chemicals, drawn from a list of 90 in EPA’s 2014 TSCA Work Plan, will undergo complete risk evaluations within three years.  If EPA finds …

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