Public Comment: EPA's Proposed Rule: Federal Plan Requirements for Greehouse Gas Emissions from Electric Utility Generating Units, Brian Mannix, November 19, 2015
Identifying Regulations Affecting International Trade and Investment: Better Classification Could Improve Regulatory Cooperation, Daniel R. Pérez, November 10, 2015
Learning from Experience: Retrospective Review of Regulations in 2014, Sofie E. Miller, November 3, 2015
Salience, complexity and state resistance to federal mandates, Steven J. Balla, October 28, 2015
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, Brian Mannix, October 2, 2015
Regulatory Science and Policy: A Case Study of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, Susan E. Dudley, September 9, 2015
Whose Benefits Are They, Anyway? Examining the Benefits of Energy Efficiency Rules 2007 - 2014, Sofie E. Miller, September 2, 2015
The New European Better Regulation Agenda: Changes and Potential for Improving the U.S. Rulemaking Process, Ana Maria Zarate Moreno, August 17, 2015
The Role of Transparency in Regulatory Governance: Comparing US and EU Regulatory Systems, Susan E. Dudley & Kai Wegrich, Summer 2015
Public Comment: NRC's Financial Qualifications for Reactor Licensing, Gerald W. Brock, July 30, 2015
New Commentaries from the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center
One (un)remarkable problem?
Political Discourse Includes Regulatory Reform
Early Notice from U.S. Agencies Could Help Avoid Creating Barriers to Trade
Evaluating Retrospective Review of Regulations in 2014
Personal reflections on a consummate professor: Wallace Oates, 1937 - 2015
The Ozone Charade
OMB Reports Higher Costs and Lower Benefits in 2015 Draft Report
The Tension between Optimization and Competition in Rulemaking: The Case of Proposed Fuel-Efficiency Standards for Trucks
EPA’s Ozone Rule and the Scientization of Policy
11/23/15 - The U.S. Congress and the Executive have implemented different initiatives to evaluate the effectiveness of existing regulations, but despite all these developments, some challenges still exist to systematically conduct retrospective review. There is an ongoing debate on the most effective institutional oversight, procedural requirements and methods needed for a well-functioning retrospective review system.
11/18/15 - Regulation is one of the primary vehicles by which a president can affect public policy without going to Congress. For the women and men vying for the job of president, regulatory reform is a key topic of discussion on the 2016 campaign trail. This commentary provides a review of the presidential candidates’ positions on regulatory reform related to recent debates, speeches and public comments.
11/11/15 - Countries engaged in international trade and investment have been largely successful at reducing many of the traditional barriers to the flow of goods, such as tariffs. As a result, trade deals are increasingly prioritizing the elimination of unnecessary regulatory differences between trade partners which act as a lingering barrier to trade, creating inefficiencies that unnecessarily raise costs for businesses and consumers.
11/4/15 - 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. This commentary reviews our latest research, which finds that agencies are not planning prospectively for ex post analysis of their rules. We provide three recommendations to agencies for building their rules to enable better measurement ex post.
11/3/15 - Guest post by Albert McGartland reflecting on the life of Wallace Oates: I was a first-year grad student at the University of Maryland in 1979 when I learned that Wally Oates was joining the Economics Department and would teach Environmental Economics in the fall. At the time, I harbored no thoughts of a field in Environmental Economics, but nor did I want to pass up an opportunity to learn from one of our leading academics. I decided to take Wally’s course. The rest, as they say, is history. I never looked back.
10/28/15 - EPA asserts its new 70 parts per billion (ppb) ozone standard, published in the Federal Register on October 26, will avoid 320 to 660 premature deaths each year. However, the agency’s own analysis claims that a more stringent 65 ppb standard would have saved an additional 1,274 to 2,660 lives per year. This commentary examines how, if EPA is required to base the standard on health considerations only, without considering economic factors, can it reconcile setting a standard that leaves so many lives unprotected?
10/21/15 - On October 16, the Office Management and Budget released its annual Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations, which provides a window into regulatory activity conducted by federal agencies in Fiscal Year 2014. The Report estimates that the new regulations issued last fiscal year have both higher costs and lower benefits than those issued in FY 2013, and that the Environmental Protection Agency remains by far the largest contributor to both regulatory costs and benefits in this Report.
The Tension between Optimization and Competition in Rulemaking: The Case of Proposed Fuel-Efficiency Standards for Trucks
10/8/15 - 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.
10/7/15 - This commentary questions EPA’s claim that its new ozone standard is based purely on science, untainted by economic or political considerations. When science is the only factor that can legally be considered in setting a standard, no one is immune to the temptation to put a spin on science to advance policy goals. Current procedures are not transparent and lead to distortions and false precision in the presentation of scientific information, blurring the line between science and policy and contributing to what Dudley calls the “scientization of policy.”
Latest Research from the GW Regulatory Studies Center
Public Comment: EPA’s Proposed Rule: Federal Plan Requirements for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Electric Utility Generating Units
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Renewable Fuel Standard program is mandated by Congress to increase the production and use of renewable fuels, such as corn ethanol, in gasoline and diesel. However, the availability of new scientific, technical, and economic information shows that the RFS program does not work as it was intended to, and is likely causing significant environmental harm through increased greenhouse gas emissions and damage to waterbodies and ecosystems. In this proposed rule, EPA appropriately uses its waiver authority to set renewable fuel standards below those prescribed by statute. Given the environmental damage and the large economic impact of the standards, EPA should update its benefits analysis and consider using its waiver authority to further reduce the standards. Responsibility rests with Congress to reevaluate the effects of the statutes it authorized, which are now causing economic and environmental harm.
Despite efforts to ensure that new regulations provide net benefits to citizens, the accumulation of regulations threatens economic growth and well-being. As a result, the U.S. legislature is exploring the possibility that applying fiscal budgeting concepts to regulation could bring more accountability and transparency to the regulatory process. This paper examines the advantages and challenges of applying regulatory budgeting practices, and draws some preliminary conclusions based on successful experiences in other countries.
This Article examines efforts by the three branches of federal government to oversee regulatory policy and procedures. It begins with a review of efforts over the last century to establish appropriate checks and balances on regulations issued by the executive branch and then evaluates current regulatory reforms that would hold the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch more accountable for regulations and their outcomes.
Agencies already use ANPRMs to gather public input, and have for many years. However, our analysis sought to answer these questions: How frequently do agencies use ANPRMs? Which agencies use ANPRMs most frequently? Do agencies use ANPRMs to solicit public input on minor regulatory issues, or for bigger policy questions? This analysis provides answers to each of these questions for use by policymakers, agencies, and the public alike as we contemplate practical solutions for improving the regulatory process.