Biden Administration

Cost-Benefit Analysis and Deep Uncertainty

How should agencies take into account “the things we know we don’t know”?

Since 1981, cost-benefit analysis (CBA) has been at the core of the rule making process.  OIRA, the so-called “regulatory czar” in the White House, must approve every significant regulation based on a review of its CBA.  But CBA has had a major blind spot. It embodies techniques for analyzing possible harmful outcomes when the probability …

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Two Months from Election Day

Who will get control of the Senate? And why does that matter for the environment?

We’re now two months from election day. This is a challenging electoral cycle for the Democrats, given inflation, the continuing effects of COVID, the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, and other woes. With turnout possibly boosted by the overruling of Roe v. Wade and other developments, Democrats do have a good chance of …

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Does the New Climate Law Expand Regulatory Authority?

It’s not the game changer some people think, but IRA could help in several ways.

There’s been a lot of recent talk about whether the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) indirectly overrides West Virginia v. EPA.  The answer to that is probably “no.”  However, some IRA provisions will help lawyers  defend certain regulatory actions. IRA may also have an important framing effect when courts are considering the reasonableness of agency actions. …

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The Inflation Reduction Act and California Offshore Wind

There May Be Workarounds for Delays in Offshore Wind Created by IRA Section 50265

Various measures in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed into law on August 16, 2022, create new momentum for offshore wind in California. However, as with all things in life, it’s never that simple. In this case, the IRA ties offshore wind (OSW) leases to offshore oil and gas auctions and prevents OSW leases from …

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A Three-Prong Attack on Carbon Emissions

A trio of new laws will power the energy transition.

Passage of IRA was clearly a big deal, with nearly $380 billion devoted to climate and other environmental issues.  But IRA is only one of the three big climate bills passed in the ten months.  The three represent a concerted effort to accelerate the energy transition. The earliest was the Infrastructure Act last November.  In …

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The Side Deal

How would the Manchin-Schumer deal on permitting impact the environment?

To get Manchin’s vote for the $379 billion in environmental spending in the IRA bill, Schumer and other congressional leaders had to agree to support Manchin’s efforts  to speed up the permit system. At this point, all we have is a one-page list of permitting changes that would form the basis of a new bill. …

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IRA’s Impact

The new law is a Big Deal. Or more precisely, a REALLY Big Deal.

IRA, the Inflation Reduction Act, is clearly the biggest climate legislation ever passed in the United States.  The law will provide  $379 billion in subsidies to clean energy in the form of direct payments and tax credits. Subsidies aren’t the ideal way to cut emissions, because it’s impossible to target them to the precise behavioral …

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A Great Day for Climate Policy

A short video explainer of why passage of the IRA bill is such a big deal.

We all have something to celebrate with the House passage of the IRA on Friday. Getting it passed required some difficult compromises, but the bill represents a major step forward.  Because of the Mar-a-Lago search, it hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as it deserves. If you don’t have time for a lot of details, …

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The Inflation Reduction Act and the Sequencing of Climate Policy

Why subsidies for clean energy generally are preconditions for other climate policies

The Inflation Reduction Act would be, if enacted, the biggest piece of climate legislation that the U.S. Congress has ever passed.  As such, it’s gotten a fair amount of coverage attempting to put it into context for the broader scope of climate policy in the U.S. and globally – in particular, this article in Slate …

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Bracket Creep at OIRA

There’s an embarrassing economic blunder in how OIRA’s jurisdiction is defined.

The Biden Administration is considering changes to how OIRA, the “regulatory czar,” operates. There’s one simple fix the Administration should make. OIRA core function is cost-benefit analysis But the rules establishing OIRA’s jurisdiction contain an error that should make an economist blush: using nominal rather than real (inflation-adjusted) dollars. This means that OIRA is now …

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