Regulatory Policy

The Dark Art of Estimating Flood Risks

The 100-year flood and the 500-year flood are both very rough estimates.

My title is a little unfair.  So far as I can tell, the people who are trying to figure out the 100-year or 500-year floods in various places are hard-working professionals, applying their expertise to a difficult problem.  But there are a lot of uncertainties that get concealed behind the final numbers.  The consequence is […]

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High Time to Fix California’s Affordable Housing Crisis

California Political Leaders Announce Historic Housing Accord

The Sacramento Bee reports that California Governor Jerry Brown and the Democratic leaders of the State Senate and Assembly have reached an 11th-hour agreement to address California’s chronic, steadily growing affordable housing crisis.  (The California Legislature’s 2017 session concludes in mid-September.)  That’s good news indeed–and a most welcome (if overdue) proposed fix to one of […]

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Pushing Back Against Presidential Power

It’s time to rethink the amount of power presidents have claimed over regulatory policy.

If there was ever a time to think hard about presidential power, that time is now. That’s a very broad question, but the part most relevant for this blog is the President’s role in controlling government regulation. There is no question that presidents have and will continue to have a huge influence on regulatory policy. […]

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Continuing Efforts to Put a Price on Carbon

New York regulators and transmission operators consider a carbon adder for wholesale electricity.

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) operates the state’s electric grid and conducts wholesale power markets. The New York Department of Public Service regulates the state’s investor-owned electricity providers. Together, they have issued a report concluding that the state, ratepayers, and the environment would benefit from placing a charge on wholesale electric power to […]

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200 Days & Counting: Environmental Threat Assessment

The Trump Administration presents a barrage of threats to the environment. Which threats are worst?

This is the last in our series on the state of play concerning U.S. environmental protection at this point of the Trump Administration. We can classify threats along three dimensions: the likelihood of harm, the seriousness and irreversibility of the harm, and the irreversibility of the institutional or legal change. Here’s an assessment of our […]

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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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200 Days & Counting: Pollution and Climate Change

Trump and Pruitt want to take an ax to EPA regulation. That will be harder than they think.

Rolling back EPA regulations is one of the Trump Administration’s priorities. The most notable example is Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aimed to cut CO2 emissions from power plants. The other rule that has gotten considerable attention is the so-called WOTUS rule, which defines federal jurisdiction to regulate wetlands and watersheds. But these are not […]

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Setback for EPA in Regulating Gases with High Global Warming Potential

DC Circuit vacates 2015 rule on HFCs

Today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a 2015 EPA rule targeting the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of potent greenhouse gases that are used as refrigerants and propellants for a variety of purposes as a substitute for ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The court’s decision is a setback for President Obama’s […]

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Industry’s Hostile Takeover of EPA

When you’re Scott Pruitt, who you gonna call? Industry reps.

When there are hard decisions to make, who does EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt turns to? Not, as you might naively think, the experts on the staff of his own agency. Instead, he turns to industry lobbyists and lawyers, and to politicians like the Republican state attorneys general who used to be his colleagues. As the […]

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Guest Blogger Gregory Dotson: Is Scott Pruitt Calling for an Amendment to the Clean Air Act?

EPA Administrator Resorts to Misleading Rhetoric in Possible Prelude to Revisiting Massachusetts v. EPA

Since he was confirmed to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency six months ago, Administrator Scott Pruitt has relied on three points when discussing the issue of climate change. He has cast doubt on the science by claiming it’s difficult to know the human role “with precision.” He has questioned the ability of the agency […]

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