Regulatory Policy

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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Making Heat Pumps Accessible and Affordable to Decarbonize Buildings

New policy report on solutions to improve deployment of heat pump technologies in existing buildings | Webinar July 19

Join us for a webinar to discuss the report findings with leaders on July 19 at 1 pm PT. RSVP here You may have seen heat pumps (or #heatpumpnation) in the news recently and wondered, what really is this device? How do heat pumps relate to building decarbonization goals, national security, and climate mitigation efforts? …

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Unquantified Benefits

How can the government account for benefits that it can’t measure?

Like it or not, quantitative cost-benefit analysis has been a key part of the regulatory process for forty years and seem likely to stay that way.  Yet even economists admit that they don’t (yet) know how to put numbers on the value of some important regulatory benefits.  But how can those qualitative assessments be combined …

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Equity Weighting: A Brief Introduction

An unfamiliar concept for most that just might make cost-benefit analysis more progressive.

A technique called equity weighting could make regulation more progressive. Implementing this technique may be harder than it sounds, however, for a variety of practical, legal, and political reasons. Agencies might do best to use equity weighting as a way to check their regulatory decisions rather than as their main decision tool.

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Whose Interests Count? And How Much?

Whether to consider harms to foreign countries and future generations is controversial. So is how much weight to give harm to the poor.

Should regulators take into account harm to people in other countries? What about harm to future generations? Should we give special attention when the disadvantaged are harmed? These questions are central to climate policy and some other important environmental issues. I’ll use cost-benefit analysis as a framework for discussing these issues. You probably don’t need …

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