Regulatory Policy

The Opioid Epidemic and Vaccine Hesitancy

The places hit hardest by opioids are often skeptical of vaccines. That’s probably not a coincidence.

The opioid crisis was the product of corporate greed run amok and a corrupted regulatory process. That crisis may have amplified deep distrust of the pharmaceutical industry and its government watchdogs — distrust that may now be reflected in vaccine skepticism. First, a little history. The manufacturer, Purdue Pharma,  aggressively promoted the use of oxycontin, …

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Calculating the  Extinction Cost of Carbon

Or, how many megatons do we need to cut to prevent one extinction?

Economists often talk about the social cost of carbon, which basically translates the harm done by a ton of CO2 into dollars. The dollar metric is less useful as applied to ecological impacts like species extinctions than impacts of humans.  It may be better to skip the dollar conversion, and just ask how much a …

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The Regulatory Process: FAQs

Here’s an explainer on how federal regulations get issued and reviewed by courts.

Even most lawyers, let alone the rest of the population, are a bit fuzzy on how the regulatory system works.  As the Biden Administration is gearing up to start a slew of regulatory proceedings, here’s what you need to know about the process. Issuing Regulations Q:  Where do agencies like EPA get the power to …

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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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Anti—Anti-#ClimateEmergency

COP25

Whether to declare a climate emergency is debatable. But some critics have gone way overboard.   

Should Biden declare a national climate emergency?  There are certainly arguments that, on balance, it would be better not to take that step.  Some opponents argue that declaring a climate emergency would be horribly anti-democratic, polarizing, and counterproductive.  Those arguments seem to me seriously overstated.  I’d like to go through the major arguments against declaring …

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How Harmful Was Trump’s COVID Response?

We know it was bad, but how much of the U.S. death rate can be attributed to him rather than circumstances?

The U.S. COVID response went badly in 2020. How much was because Trump was Trump? That is, if Trump had been a moderately competent but imperfect leader, facing a diverse population with a significant resistance to public health measures, how many lives would have been saved? That’s not a question that anyone can answer with …

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Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Biden EPA

The recent rescission of  a Trump rule hints at how the Biden Administration views the role of cost-benefit analysis.

In its closing days, the Trump Administration issued a rule designed to tilt EPA’s cost-benefit analysis of air pollution regulations in favor of industry. Last week, EPA rescinded the rule.  The rescission was no surprise, given that the criticisms of the Trump rule by economists as well as environmentalists. EPA’s explanation for the rescission was …

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Guest Contributors Clara Barnosky, Jane Sadler, Richard Yates, and Zachary Zimmerman: The Biden Administration’s First 100 Days of Reversing Environmental Rollbacks

Joe Biden

An Early Analysis of Progress and Priorities in the Executive Branch

In the final months of the Trump presidency, we (a team of students working with U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE)) compiled a database of over 200 environmental rollbacks enacted during the Trump administration. These rollbacks characterized the administration’s aggressive focus on deregulation of industry and disregard of protections for the …

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The Ninth Circuit Makes EPA an Offer It Can’t Refuse

Regulate chlorpyrifos or else!

Chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely used pesticides in America, although it has been banned in the EU.  Last week, the Ninth Circuit took the extraordinary step of ordering EPA pointblank to ban or reduce traces of chlorpyrifos in food. A dissenter accused the majority of misreading the statute in question and abusing its …

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