Recent Research

Susan Dudley

Public Comment: CO2 Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources – Electric Utility Generating Units, Brian F. Mannix, December 2, 2014

Public Interest Comment on DOE's Proposed Efficiency Standards for Commercial Heating and Cooling EquipmentSofie E. Miller, December 1, 2014

Stakeholder Participation and Regulatory Policymaking in the United States, Steven J. Balla & Susan E. Dudley, November 7, 2014

Public Interest Comment on the Proposed Definition of "Waters of the United States" Under the Clean Water Act, Tracy Mehan, November 7, 2014

Public Interest Comment on the CFPB's Proposed Home Mortgage Disclosure (Regulation C)Lindsay M. Scherber, October 29, 2014

Public Interest Comment on NHTSA's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communications, Gerald W. Brock & Lindsay M. Scherber, October 21, 2014

Australia’s Regulatory 'Bonfire'Jeff Bennett & Susan E. Dudley, Regulation Magazine, Fall 2014

Looking Back to Move AheadSofie E. Miller, Regulation Magazine, Fall 2014

Tight Budgets Constrain Some Regulatory Agencies, But Not All, Susan E. Dudley & Melinda Warren, Regulation Magazine, Fall 2014

What's Wrong with the Back of the Envelope? A Call for Simple (and Timely) Benefit-Cost Analysis, Christopher Carrigan & Stuart Shapiro, October 7, 2014

Retrospective Review Comment on DOT’s Proposed Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains, Sofie E. Miller, September 29, 2014

Public Interest Comment on the Department of Transportation's Proposed Rule: Transparency of Airline Ancillary Fees and Other Consumer Protection Issues, Sofie E. Miller, September 17, 2014

Comment on OMB's Report to Congress on Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations, Susan Dudley, Brian Mannix, and Sofie Miller

Valuation of PM 2.5 Reductions in OMB's Report to Congress on Benefits and Costs of Federal regulations, Tony Cox, September 2,2014 

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Regulatory Studies Center team picture

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Commentary: The Utility of Humility

Susan Dudley presenting
December 09, 2014
By Susan E. Dudley, Director

What effect do regulations have on economic growth and well-being? In the United States, there is growing concern that our regulatory system has gone beyond the rules needed for an efficient, competitive market. Because of this concern, fundamental change is needed, the foundation of which must be greater humility. Without a counterfactual, it is impossible to know what a more restrained regulatory environment would have meant for economic growth and well-being, but available evidence suggests that the benefits of a simpler regulatory system that is targeted at problems that cannot be solved by other means could have enormous benefits for us and future generations.


Public Comment: CO2 Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources – Electric Utility Generating Units

EPA flag
December 02, 2014
by Brian Mannix, Visiting Scholar

EPA has proposed state-by-state carbon-intensity targets for electricity generation. Several states and other parties have asked EPA to convert these intensity targets into "mass-based" targets – i.e., carbon caps that could be used in cap-and-trade programs. RSC Visiting Scholar Brian Mannix argues that this would be a mistake; emissions trading can work well under an intensity constraint, and would be far more resistant to rent-seeking than would a cap-and-trade program.


Transatlantic Regulatory Issues

Susan Dudley with Amb. O'Sullivan

With support from the European Union, the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center hosted a conference on "Enhancing the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership: Reducing Regulatory Barriers" on November 19 and 20, 2014 in Washington DC. The conference featured remarks by senior EU and US policy officials and regulatory experts, and stakeholders exchanged their perspectives and expertise on panels discussing such topics as regulatory analysis, the role for legislators and courts, risk assessment and risk management, public engagement, and regulatory cooperation. To continue the conversation, many of the speakers have written short essays summarizing their remarks. Over the next few weeks, the GW Regulatory Studies Center will post these essays on the conference website.

Public Interest Comment on DOE's Proposed Efficiency Standards for Commercial Heating and Cooling Equipment

Pie chart: benefit composition of DOE rule
December 01, 2014
By Sofie E. Miller, Senior Policy Analyst

The Department of Energy's proposed rule amends the existing energy efficiency standards for commercial unitary air conditioners (CUAC) and commercial unitary heat pumps (CUHP), which are used for space conditioning of commercial and industrial buildings. The standards will increase appliance prices for commercial customers such as grocery stores, restaurants, universities, and hospitals by between $2,167 and $5,043 per unit. As DOE explains in its proposed rule, two types of market failure could potentially be addressed by setting energy efficiency standards for CUAC and CUHP: externalities related to greenhouse gas emissions and asymmetric information (and related misaligned incentives) regarding high-efficiency commercial appliances. However, neither of the potential market failures cited by DOE is solved by its proposed energy efficiency standards, leaving the proposal economically unjustifiable.


What's New in the Fall 2014 Regulatory Agenda?

Sofie E. Miller
November 24, 2014
By Sofie E. Miller, Senior Policy Analyst

The Fall 2014 Unified Agenda identifies 3,415 regulatory actions at different stages of development. Of these, 629 have recently been completed, and 465 are long-term. The Agenda classifies the remaining 2,321 as active regulatory actions. Interestingly, of the 599 regulatory actions listed in the Agenda for the very first time, over 40 percent are listed as Final or Completed rules, of which 11 were economically significant. This means the public didn't get notice of the rules in the Unified Agenda until it was too late to participate in the rulemaking process, even for rules that would incur more than $100 million annually in costs or benefits. This finding is consistent with our analysis of the Spring 2013 Unified Agenda, indicating a troubling pattern of lack of agency notice that could inhibit public participation. The fact that more than 40 percent of all first-time listed regulatory actions were already finalized or completed means that the public wasn't given appropriate notice of regulators' intentions, and likely had little chance to participate in the rulemaking process.


Stakeholder Participation and Regulatory Policymaking in the United States

November 07, 2014
By Steven J. Balla & Susan E. Dudley

Regulation is one of the most common and important ways in which public policy is made and implemented in the United States. Agencies of the federal government issue thousands of regulations on an annual basis. Given the importance of regulation, an underlying concern regards the nature of stakeholder participation in the regulatory process. In one respect, stakeholder participation is salient as a means through which information about the economic and political ramifications of regulations is generated. In another respect, stakeholder participation serves as a vehicle through which stakeholders become deeply involved in regulatory policymaking, by, for example, engaging in a "deliberative process that aims toward the achievement of a rational consensus over the regulatory decision." With this range of possibilities in mind, to what extent does stakeholder participation in practice bring principles of information provision and deliberative engagement to bear in the regulatory process?


Public Interest Comment on the Proposed Definition of "Waters of the United States" Under the Clean Water Act

November 07, 2014
By G. Tracy Mehan III

EPA and the Corps' proposal rule clarifying the scope of 'waters of the United States' protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA) is intended to increase predictability and consistency of the CWA program. This comment offers recommendations to the Agencies on how best to develop plans for measuring the effects of the rule, if it is implemented, and at mitigating the uncertainty and unpredictability, lack of prior notice and concerns for due process inherent in the proposal's many abstract, open-ended regulatory and definitional provisions. These recommendations may lead to better attainment of the Agencies' stated goals, while minimizing case-specific determinations and other elements which negatively affect regulated entities and citizens in the exercise of their private property rights.


What's Wrong with the Back of the Envelope? A Call for Simple (and Timely) Benefit-Cost Analysis

October 07, 2014
By Christopher Carrigan & Stuart Shapiro

Benefit-cost analysis has been criticized by observers across the ideological spectrum for as long as it has been part of the rulemaking process. Still, proponents and detractors agree that analysis has morphed into a mechanism often used by agencies to justify regulatory decisions already made. Carrigan & Shapiro argue that a simpler analysis of more alternatives conducted earlier in the process can resuscitate it as a tool to inform policy. The reform is based on the principles that benefit-cost analyses should: 1) be completed well before the proposed rule; 2) eschew the complex quantification that has made them largely inaccessible; and 3) consider realistic policy alternatives beyond simply the agency preference. Recognizing that requiring a procedure does not ensure regulators will follow it, the authors offer possible remedies, including intensifying or relaxing subsequent review of proposed rules, which raise the cost of circumventing the reform or lower the cost of following it.