Regulatory Policy

On the First Monday in October, the Sacketts Head to the Supreme Court a Second Time

Sackett v. EPA–the Most Important Environmental Case on the Justices’ Current Docket–Will Answer the Key Question of How Far Federal Wetlands Regulation Extends Under the Clean Water Act

Today the U.S. Supreme Court formally begins its 2022-23 Term.  First up on the justices’ docket this morning is a major environmental case: Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 21-454. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Over the past half-century, no single CWA issue has proven more contentious and …

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U.C. Davis Law School to Host “Clean Water Act at 50” Conference

Interdisciplinary Event Will Assess Landmark Law’s Past, Assess Its Future

On Friday, October 7th, the California Environmental Law & Policy Center at U.C. Davis School of Law will convene a major, day-long conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act.  The event will assess the progress the U.S. has made over the past half-century in abating water pollution; focus on some …

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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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Jobs and Environmental Regulation

“Job-killing regulation”? That’s not really what the evidence tells us.

Labor Day is a good time to talk about an important topic: the impact of environmental regulation on jobs. This is a clearly a fraught issue. In support of his deregulation campaign, President Trump promised to “cancel every needless job-killing regulation and put a moratorium on new regulations until our economy gets back on its …

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A Design Flaw in the Clean Air Act

Why have technology-based standards if you have air quality standards?

The Clean Air Act has two kinds of standards. It sounds like having two kinds of standards should improve air quality more than a single standard. But in reality, one type of standard can result in canceling out the benefits of the other type. If you understand the statute, this is actually pretty obvious once …

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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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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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Why We Can’t Wait

In climate policy, delay is deadly.

There are a lot of complaints about the very real flaws in the Inflation Reduction Act, tied with arguments that we should wait until we can do something better. In climate policy, however, waiting is dangerous.  We’ve already delayed far too long. Further delay means having to cut emission much more rapidly to make up …

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Taking A Data-Driven Tour of Air Pollution Law

After Half a Century, What Do We Really Know about the Impacts of the Clean Air Act?

Earlier this year, a team of economists published a retrospective paper on the Clean Air Act. It surveys the economic literature to find out what the data tells us about emission trading systems, the effects of pollutants, and effects of imposing tougher regulatory requirements in areas that failed to meet national air quality standards. Some …

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