What's New from the GW Regulatory Studies Center


2/5/16: Science Magazine Letter, Social cost of carbon: Domestic duty, co-authored by Susan Dudley 

2/4/16 - NEWS: The Hill, Window on Obama regs closing, quoting Susan E. Dudley

2/3/16 - Regulation Digest, Vol 5 No 5

2/3/16 - Commentary: Senate Shows Continuing Interest in Regulatory Reform, by Sofie E. miller

2/1/16 - NEWS: Bloomberg BNA, OIRA Wish for 2016: An Orderly Regulatory Process, quoting Daniel R. Pérez

1/27/16 - Regulation Digest, Vol 5 No 4

1/26/16 - Commentary: Countdown To Midnight On The President's Regulatory Priorities, by Susan E. Dudley

1/26/16 - Forbes Opinion, Obama Officials Prepare For The Regulatory Stroke Of Midnight, by Susan E. Dudley

1/20/16 - Regulation Digest, Vol 5 No 3

1/20/16 - Commentary: Looking Ahead to Regulation in 2016, by Sofie E. Miller


New Commentaries from the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center

Latest Research from the GW Regulatory Studies Center

Recent working papers and published articles from Center scholars

Public Comment on EPA’s Proposed Supplemental Finding that it is Appropriate and Necessary to Regulate Hazardous Air Pollutants from Coal- and Oil-Fired EGUs

Supreme Court
January 11, 2016
by Susan E. Dudley, Director

EPA fails to show that its MATS is appropriate and necessary to address risks to public health and the environment from hazardous air pollutants. Its preferred approach has methodological problems and does not address the Supreme Court’s direction to balance the harm of the regulation against the good. Its benefit-cost analysis is dominated by co-benefits that are not subject to the statutory authority on which it relies, and that could be addressed more cost-effectively elsewhere. EPA also ignores the fact that the $9.6 billion cost will have large detrimental effects on public health.


Briefly Noted: CAFE and the Tension Between Optimization and Competition in Rulemaking

Regulation Magazine
December 16, 2015
by Brian Mannix, Research Professor in Regulation Magazine, Winter 2015 - 2016

Choosing regulatory options that maximize net benefits is a sound principle, but it needs to be applied with an appropriate measure of humility. Regulators may be tempted to think that they can use benefit-cost analysis to determine what is “best” for the economy, and then simply mandate it. The collateral damage to competition and innovation can easily turn an otherwise well-intentioned rule into an economic disaster. Regulatory specification of a particular technology can be especially damaging when the technology is proprietary, because then the law may simultaneously lock out competitors and lock in customers.


Public Comment on OMB’s 2015 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations

OMB seal
December 15, 2015
by Sofie E. Miller, Senior Policy Analyst; Susan Dudley, Director; & Brian Mannix, Research Professor

The Office of Management and Budget’s 2015 Draft Report to Congress provides information on costs and benefits for certain final rules issued between FY 2004 and FY 2014. The Report provides the public valuable information both on estimates of the effects of major executive branch regulations, and also on OMB’s focus and priorities. This comment offers recommendations for improving regulatory impact assessments, writing rules to encourage retrospective review of regulations, and the use of “private benefits” to justify energy efficiency standards.


Regulation, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship: A Review of the Literature

December 08, 2015
by Ana Maria Zárate Moreno, Research Assistant

The regulatory environment in which firms interact can hinder or contribute to the creation and early stage growth of new businesses as well as to the innovation process within a market. This document reviews the literature that explores the empirical relationship between regulation and innovation and regulation and entrepreneurship, focusing on the effects of regulatory quality across countries. The thematic analysis conducted in this literature review indicates that institutions matter for economic activities and that regulation, as an important part of the institutional environment, is a central aspect of the ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurial engagement.


Public Comment: EPA’s Proposed Rule: Federal Plan Requirements for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Electric Utility Generating Units

European Power Plant
November 19, 2015
by Brian Mannix, Research Professor

This Public Interest Comment, filed last year in response to EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, addresses the relative merits of a “mass-based” or “rate-based” emissions trading program in state plans required by EPA’s rule. This same question has arisen again in the context of EPA’s development of Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) that might be imposed on noncomplying states. The comment (which has now been filed in the FIP rulemaking) concludes that a rate-based trading program, similar to the EPA’s successful program for trading lead in gasoline in the 1980s, has compelling advantages over a mass-based program.


Identifying Regulations Affecting International Trade and Investment: Better Classification Could Improve Regulatory Cooperation

Identifying Regulations Affecting International Trade and Investment: Better Classification Could Improve Regulatory Cooperation
November 10, 2015
by Daniel R. Pérez, Policy Analyst

Early notice of upcoming regulations that are likely to affect international trade and investment helps U.S. citizens and companies as well as our trading partners. The U.S. has tasked its regulatory agencies with flagging such rules in the semiannual Unified Agenda before they are issued. We compared the number of rules that agencies flagged as likely to have an international impact from 2008 through 2014 with the number of rules we identified, based on our criteria, that were likely to have such an impact. Agencies are currently identifying less than 30% of these rules.


Learning from Experience: Retrospective Review of Regulations in 2014

Agency use of retrospective review of regulations
November 03, 2015
by Sofie E. Miller, Senior Policy Analyst

Through a series of Executive Orders, President Obama has encouraged federal regulatory agencies to review existing regulations and to “modify, streamline, expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been learned.” Learning from experience is an important part of a healthy regulatory process, so multiple government guidelines instruct agencies to incorporate retrospective review plans into their proposals during the rulemaking process. Our latest research finds that, despite these guidelines, agencies are not planning prospectively for ex post analysis of their rules.


Salience, complexity and state resistance to federal mandates

October 28, 2015
by Steven J. Balla, Scholar; and Christopher J. Deering (in the Journal of Public Policy, Vol. 35, Iss. 3)

Although state resistance to federal mandates is a prevalent characteristic of contemporary American federalism, little is known about the factors that separate resisting states from states that do not oppose federal policy. This article examines state resistance through a framework that classifies public policies by salience and complexity and identifies societal interests and government officials who are hypothesised to influence policy making on issues of varying types. These hypotheses are investigated in the context of state resistance to four federal laws – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, No Child Left Behind Act, Help America Vote Act and REAL ID Act. The results of the statistical analysis demonstrate the centrality of the characteristics of citizens, elected officials and specialised interest groups in conditioning state resistance to federal mandates. These results suggest that state resistance can be characterised as a strategic response to federal mandates that varies systematically across types of public policies.


Public Interest Comment on EPA and NHTSA's Proposed Rule: Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2

Truck fleet
October 02, 2015
by Brian Mannix, Research Professor

Contrary to claims, EPA and NHTSA’s proposed standards to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency for medium and heavy-duty engines and vehicles is not “a win-win-win.” The agencies’ RIA forecasts large benefits, mostly in the form of private fuel savings but, fails to recognize that competitive markets are far better informed, and far better motivated, to pursue these fuel savings efficiently. The net effect will be higher costs, not savings. Other external benefits might be used to justify the standards, but an honest RIA would acknowledge that these come at a price.


A Review of Regulatory Reform Proposals

Dudley testimony
September 17, 2015
by Susan E. Dudley, Director

The Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee held a hearing on Thursday September 16, at which they asked Susan Dudley to provide expert input on six regulatory reform proposals scheduled for markup. Her testimony complimented the Committee on the constructive, bipartisan reforms, which if passed, could bring about real improvements in regulatory procedures and outcomes. She offered detailed comments on each bill, of which three focus on evaluating the effects of existing regulations and modifying them as appropriate, and three focus on enhancing analytical procedures conducted before new regulations are issued.


Regulatory Science and Policy: A Case Study of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards

September 09, 2015
by Susan E. Dudley, Director

Effective environmental policy depends on reliable scientific information and transparent policy choices; it is challenged not only when science is politicized, but also when policy is “scientized.” This paper suggests that current practices scientize policy and threaten not only regulatory outcomes, but the credibility of the scientific process. Using a case study of the procedures by which the Environmental Protection Agency sets National Ambient Air Quality Standards under the Clean Air Act, it illustrates some of the perverse incentives involved in developing regulations, and offers possible mechanisms to improve those incentives and resulting policy.


Whose Benefits Are They, Anyway? Examining the Benefits of Energy Efficiency Rules 2007 - 2014

September 02, 2015
by Sofie E. Miller, Senior Policy Analyst

Over the past decade, regulations setting energy efficiency standards have proliferated. These rules account billions of dollars in annual regulatory benefits, but the Department of Energy relies on private benefits and benefits to residents of other countries to justify the standards, contrary to typical benefit-cost analyses. This paper examines the composition of benefits resulting from DOE’s energy efficiency rules 2007 – 2014, and finds that these rules don’t pass a traditional cost-benefit test when relying on traditional analytical assumptions.


The New European Better Regulation Agenda: Changes and Potential for Improving the U.S. Rulemaking Process

Better Regulation Agenda
August 17, 2015
by Ana Maria Zárate Moreno, Research Assistant

On May 19, 2015, the European Commission published a new agenda to improve the EU's regulatory processes by increasing the scope and quality of regulatory assessments, expanding transparency and consultation, and seeking to work with other European entities. These changes may be useful for other countries in their efforts to improve regulatory governance. Based on the European initiatives, some possible actions for improving the U.S. rulemaking process are: i) increase input from stakeholders on the impacts of existing regulations through a well-established platform that formalizes a constant dialogue between federal government, states, and stakeholders; and ii) provide an online program to comment on the stock of regulations as complement of the consultation process.


The Role of Transparency in Regulatory Governance: Comparing US and EU Regulatory Systems

US and EU flags
August 11, 2015
by Susan E. Dudley and Kai Wegrich

This review of regulatory procedures in the EU and US suggests that each values good regulatory practices, such as transparency, public consultation, and regulatory impact analysis, but emphasizes them to different degrees at different stages in the regulatory process. Particularly for regulations that address human health risks, both jurisdictions should be more transparent regarding the uncertainties surrounding estimates of regulatory outcomes and the effect of key assumptions on those estimates. A transparent process for evaluating regulatory effects ex post could also improve regulatory analysis and outcomes.


Public Comment: NRC's Financial Qualifications for Reactor Licensing

Sequoyah nuclear power plant
July 30, 2015
By Gerald W. Brock, Co-Director

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission published a draft regulatory basis for a proposed rulemaking that would amend the financial qualifications standard for new reactor licensing from the current "reasonable assurance" to the proposed "appears to be financially qualified." However, the proposed standard is unnecessary because there is a market test of financial qualifications that is more accurate than regulatory review. While the proposed new financial qualification standard is better than the current financial qualification standard, simply abolishing the financial qualifications requirement for licensing would be an improvement over the proposed new standard.