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  1. Much-anticipated CO2 Emissions Rule Renders Zero Benefits or Costs in Agency Analysis [Download]

    Title: Much-anticipated CO2 Emissions Rule Renders Zero Benefits or Costs in Agency Analysis
    Author: Miller, Sofie E.
    Description: On September 20th, the Environmental Protection Agency released a much-anticipated proposed rule that would limit the emissions of CO2 by new coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, or electric utility generating units (EGUs). This proposal is one of many regulatory actions being undertaken by the Obama administration to curb carbon emissions, and is the first uniform federal limit on CO2 production for new power plants. Carbon emissions from existing power plants are currently regulated by state implementation of federal guidelines, and next year EPA will propose federal standards for existing plants. Interestingly enough, EPA’s analysis suggests that the proposed rule doesn’t exert any meaningful requirement on emissions from new power plants: “Because these [proposed] standards are in line with current industry investment patterns, these standards are not expected to have notable costs and are not projected to impact electricity prices or reliability.” In other words, EPA is projecting that, even without the proposed standards, emissions would have fallen by a comparable amount due to shifts from investment in coal plants to natural gas-fired plants, which have lower CO2 emissions. EPA makes the same point even more clearly in its regulatory impact analysis (RIA): “the proposed EGU New Source GHG [greenhouse gas] Standards are not expected to change GHG emissions for newly constructed EGUs, and are anticipated to yield no monetized benefits and impose negligible costs, economic impacts, or energy impacts on the electricity sector or society.” According to the agency’s analysis, EPA presumes that any costs incurred by power plants will be at least partially recovered through sale of captured carbon.
    Keywords: Regulation, Commentaries, Federal government, Public policy, Regulatory policy, Regulatory studies
    Date Uploaded: 03/31/2018
  2. Reducing Burdens? Tier 3 Tells Another Story [Download]

    Title: Reducing Burdens? Tier 3 Tells Another Story
    Author: Miller, Sofie E.
    Description: Recognizing that unjustified regulatory burdens can be particularly challenging in a weak economy, President Obama issued Executive Order 13563 instructing each regulatory agency to “periodically review its existing significant regulations to determine whether any such regulations should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed so as to make the agency’s regulatory program more effective or less burdensome in achieving the regulatory objectives.” While the public focus of this initiative is on reducing regulatory burdens, some of the most significant actions appear to be increasing them, as the administration’s recently proposed Tier 3 vehicle emission and fuel standard illustrates.
    Keywords: Regulation, Commentaries, Federal government, Regulatory policy, Public policy, Regulatory studies
    Date Uploaded: 03/31/2018
  3. Retrospective Review of Risk-Based Regulations [Download]

    Title: Retrospective Review of Risk-Based Regulations
    Author: Dudley, Susan E.
    Description: The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center has identified retrospective review of regulations, particularly those aimed at reducing health, safety, and environmental risk, as a key research priority. As President Obama observed, “during challenging economic times …it is particularly important for agencies to conduct retrospective analyses of existing rules to examine whether they remain justified and whether they should be modified or streamlined in light of changed circumstances...” Yet effective retrospective review of regulation remains elusive, and too often, exante predictions of regulatory outcomes (reductions in health risks, benefits and costs) are not verified with empirical data ex post. To generate constructive recommendations to address this problem, RSC organized a conference on Capitol Hill to explore the possible reasons for the lack of ex post evaluation, and examine approaches to improve both the analytical tools for measuring actual effects of risk-reducing regulation, and the incentives to do so.
    Keywords: Regulation, Federal government, Commentaries, Regulatory studies, Regulatory policy, Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 03/31/2018
  4. TSA Must Subject its Controversial Passenger Screening to Public Scrutiny [Download]

    Title: TSA Must Subject its Controversial Passenger Screening to Public Scrutiny
    Author: Miller, Sofie E.
    Description: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has used advanced imaging technology (AIT) to screen airline passengers for weapons since 2007. While the traveling public and defenders of civil liberties have been vocally critical of the practice, those objections have largely fallen on deaf ears. That is because the TSA implemented the procedures without ever publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking or a final rule—effectively ensuring that TSA never sought comments from the public on its plan. However, this is about to change. Last week, under order from the court and six years after the controversial policy’s implementation, TSA published an economically significant proposed rule seeking comments from the public on TSA’s use of AIT. Unfortunately, TSA’s sidestepping the public in this matter is an indicator of a broader trend; more and more, agencies are issuing major final rules without any input from the public. A recent Government Accountability Office report found that for major rules promulgated between 2003 and 2010, over one-third did not go through notice-and-comment rulemaking, and are given the force of law without public input.
    Keywords: Regulation, Commentaries, Federal government, Regulatory policy, Public policy, Regulatory studies
    Date Uploaded: 03/31/2018
  5. 20 Years of Executive Order 12866 [Download]

    Title: 20 Years of Executive Order 12866
    Author: Miller, Sofie E.
    Description: Last week marked the 20th anniversary of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, which was signed by President Clinton on September 30, 1993 and published in the Federal Register on October 4, 1993. EO 12866 built on previous regulatory oversight executive orders in establishing the process through which federal regulatory actions are reviewed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to ensure the consistency of agency actions with Presidential priorities, to coordinate regulatory policy between agencies, and to provide a dispassionate and analytical “second opinion” on agency actions.
    Keywords: Regulation, Commentaries, Federal government, Regulatory policy, Public policy, Regulatory studies
    Date Uploaded: 03/31/2018
  6. Remembering Ed Clarke: How Can We Know the Benefits of Public Decisions? [Download]

    Title: Remembering Ed Clarke: How Can We Know the Benefits of Public Decisions?
    Author: Mannix, Brian F.
    Description: Ed Clarke, who passed away last week, was the first EPA Desk Officer in OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs when it was created in 1981. From the beginning, the EPA desk was OIRA’s liveliest, always contending with the most controversial regulatory decisions. But Ed was a wise and affable presence, and a mentor to those who came after him. His long career took him to other agencies and other countries, but it was anchored at OMB. Sometimes, Ed’s colleagues or his management found him difficult to understand, but typically that was because Ed was thinking more deeply about things than was customary in Washington. Trying to understand him was well worth the effort, though. As an example, consider the Clarke Tax, Ed’s creative solution to the core problem of Benefit-Cost Analysis: how to discover the truth about the value of public goods.
    Keywords: Regulaliton, Commentaries, Regulatory studies, Federal government, Regulatory policy, Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 03/31/2018
  7. Renewable Fuels Mandates Harm the Environment, Consumers, and Taxpayers [Download]

    Title: Renewable Fuels Mandates Harm the Environment, Consumers, and Taxpayers
    Author: Dudley, Susan
    Description: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce last week issued the first in a series of white papers examining the renewable fuel standard (RFS) that was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and greatly expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. This bipartisan review is welcome. Fuel mandates and subsidies harm the environment, consumers, and taxpayers. They discourage innovation, and encouraging political rent-seeking, and Congress should eliminate them.
    Keywords: Regulation, Commentaries, Federal government, Regulatory policy, Public policy, Regulatory studies
    Date Uploaded: 03/31/2018
  8. Measuring Regulatory Activity: Pre- and Post-Shutdown [Download]

    Title: Measuring Regulatory Activity: Pre- and Post-Shutdown
    Author: Miller, Sofie E.
    Description: Until it ended last week, the government shutdown had a visible effect on the regulatory activities of federal agencies. Due to the appropriations lapse, many agencies discontinued work they did not deem necessary to protect human life and property, which meant that most regulations underway were put on hold until agencies could again fund regulatory activities.
    Keywords: Regulation, Federal government, Commentaries, Regulatory policy, Regulatory studies, Public policy
    Date Uploaded: 03/31/2018
  9. ACUS Moves Forward with Recommendations on the Use of Science in the Administrative Process [Download]

    Title: ACUS Moves Forward with Recommendations on the Use of Science in the Administrative Process
    Author: Dudley, Susan E.
    Description: After working for nearly 2 years, the Administrative Conference of the United States is nearing completion of a set of recommendations aimed at improving the use of science in the administrative process. The ACUS Committee on Regulation met last week to discuss draft recommendations informed by a report prepared by a consultant, as well as three widely-attended conferences hosted in collaboration with ACUS and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the George Washington University (GW), and the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy (SBA), respectively, to which Committee members and the public were invited. The Committee tentatively agreed to focus the current set of recommendations on best practices and transparency of research.
    Keywords: Regulation, Commentaries, Federal government, Regulatory policy, Public policy, Regulatory studies
    Date Uploaded: 03/31/2018
  10. The Unintended Consequences of Revolving Door Laws [Download]

    Title: The Unintended Consequences of Revolving Door Laws
    Author: Law, Marc T.
    Description: Many states have revolving door regulations that restrict the private sector employment of former public sector employees. These regulations are often applied to government workers responsible for regulating industries such as utilities. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent government employees from providing favorable treatment to potential future employers (i.e. prevent regulators from being “captured” by potential future employers). Enforcing these regulations is costly, but if these laws ensure that public sector employees are focusing on the objectives of the public, then they may be warranted.
    Keywords: Regulation, Commentaries, Federal government, Regulatory policy, Public policy, Regulatory studies
    Date Uploaded: 03/31/2018