@RegStudies

New Commentaries from the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center

Research

Recent working papers and published articles from Center scholars
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Public Interest Comment on The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Tobacco Product Standard for Nicotine Level of Combusted Cigarettes

June 15, 2018

By David Zorn, Ph.D.
In a comment filed on the "Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Tobacco Product Standard for Nicotine Level of Combusted Cigarettes," Zorn observes that the FDA's plan to develop a maximum nicotine level for cigarettes is a novel and creative approach to promote public health. He also examines some drawbacks of the FDA's plan, including the speculative and unproven nature of the underlying hypothesis, as well as the limitations of removing access to only combustible sources of nicotine.

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Public Interest Comment on The Food Safety and Inspection Service’s proposed rule: Egg Products Inspection Regulations

June 12, 2018

By Richard B. Belzer, Independent Consultant
This public interest comment provides an overview of the Food Safety Inspection Service’s (FSIS) proposed rule requiring official plants that process egg products to develop and implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Systems and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures. FSIS would eliminate certain existing requirements, and add new labeling requirements. The comment reviews the justifications for the rulemaking change, and provides answers to how it would affect previous rules, industry growth, and foodborne illness rates.

Image of Zhoudan Xie and Daniel R. Pérez

A Taxonomy of Regulatory Forms

May 30, 2018

By: Zhoudan Xie & Daniel R. Pérez
This Regulatory Insight addresses the information gap in how regulations are measured when determining their effect on economic growth and other macroeconomic measures by developing a taxonomy of regulatory forms. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this framework allows regulations to be classified by the form they employ to achieve the stated regulatory outcomes. We expect this taxonomy to also be applicable to industries outside of agriculture, and to be utilized by researchers and analysts in a wide range of fields as a framework for informing research on the relative effectiveness of different regulatory forms to address market and social problems.

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Public Interest Comment on The Environmental Protection Agency’s Proposed Rule Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science

May 18, 2018

By: Susan E. Dudley
The EPA’s “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” proposed rule seeks to improve the data and models that underlie the rulemaking process by making them publicly available for further analysis and validation. This public interest comment examines the merits of the proposed rule and how it relates to existing practices. These remarks conclude with a case for why clearer explanations of rulemaking rationale would encourage more openness and constructive discussion, ultimately improve policy decisions, and engender greater acceptance of policy choices.

FY19 - Regulators' Budget Report Cover

FY 2019 Regulators' Budget: More for Homeland Security, Less for Environmental Regulation

May 14, 2018

By: Susan E. Dudley and Melinda Warren
This year's annual report finds that overall spending on regulatory agencies will be maintained at 2018 levels. The total request of $71 billion in regulatory outlays is a 0.1% increase year-to-year when adjusted for inflation. The report also finds that the number of regulators would fall slightly from 280,872 to 280,269 - a 0.2% reduction compared to 2018. Despite the small changes across agencies overall there are substantial changes within particular agencies. The Dept. of Homeland Security, Food & Drug Administration, and Housing & Urban Development will see 4.8%, 5%, and 11% increases in federal outlays, respectively. On the other hand, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will receive 10.4% less, and the Environmental Protection Agency will be spending 24.9% less than in 2018.

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Public Comment on the EPA's Proposed Rule Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units

April 27, 2018

By: Brian F. Mannix
The EPA has proposed to repeal the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions guidelines for electric generating units issued on October 23, 2015—better known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Agency has also sought comment separately on what, if anything, ought to replace it. This comment, often drawing on earlier comments, will focus on the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) that supported EPA’s 2015 CPP final rule, and outlines those areas where the agency made major errors in the 2015 RIA, and where it could go further to improve the analysis.

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Public Comment on OMB's 2017 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations

April 09, 2018

By: Brian F. Mannix, Sofie E. Miller, & Susan E. Dudley
The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center improves regulatory policy through research, education, and outreach. As part of its mission, the GW Regulatory Studies Center conducts careful and independent analyses to assess rulemaking proposals from the perspective of the public interest. This comment on the Office of Management and Budget’s 2017 Draft Report to Congress offers suggestions for improving the information value of the Report, as well as the evidence on which regulatory policies depend, and does not represent the views of any particular affected party or special interest.

Spam

Where's the Spam? Mass Comment Campaigns in Agency Rulemaking

April 02, 2018

By: Steven J. Balla, Alexander R. Beck, William C. Cubbison, & Aryamala Prasad
This article examines the occurrence and nature of mass comment campaigns in rulemaking at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) between 2012 and 2016. The analysis demonstrates that campaigns of more duplicate or near-duplicate comments occur across issue areas under EPA jurisdictions, and that broad societal constituencies—such as environmentalists—are more active in sponsoring campaigns than specific interests negatively affected by stringent regulations. These findings in some respects confirm and in other respects challenge existing understandings of mass comment campaign participation in administrative rulemaking.

agency org chart

Organization, Process, and Agency Rulemaking

March 09, 2018

By Christopher Carrigan & Russell Mills
In this working paper, Christopher Carrigan and Russell Mills demonstrate how variation in the design of rulemaking procedures inside regulatory agencies affects the resulting rules. By employing a novel dataset tracking job functions of agency rule contacts for over 200 economically significant rules, the authors find that expanding the breadth of personnel types closely involved in a rulemaking reduces both the time it takes to promulgate the rule and the resulting detail with which it is presented. This work demonstrates how theories describing the implications of assigning team participants distinct roles in private organizations translate to government rulemaking.

DOE

Public Comment on Reforming DOE's "Process Rule" for Energy Efficiency Standards

March 02, 2018

By Sofie E. Miller
In response to the Department of Energy request for public comment on the proposed modifications to its "Process Rule," Sofie E. Miller filed recommendations regarding improvements to direct final rulemaking, retrospective review, and the analysis that supports the Department's rules.

coal

Public Comment on EPA's Proposed Rule: State Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Electric Utility Generating Units

February 27, 2018

Brian Mannix filed a Public Interest Comment with EPA, recommending four features that the agency should incorporate into a possible replacement for the agency’s Clean Power Plan. First, the agency should set standards for CO2 intensity, rather than a mass-based cap on CO2 emissions. Second, the standards should be tiered by technology. Third, the agency should allow trading of CO2 credits, both within and across technology categories. Fourth, the agency should incorporate a safety valve mechanism that keeps the price of CO2 credits commensurate with the domestic social cost of carbon. Such a rule could function as a “last-ton tax,” with many of the economic efficiencies of a carbon tax, but without exceeding the boundaries of EPA’s regulatory authority.

The Hastings Report

Benefit-Cost Analysis and Emerging Technologies

February 22, 2018

By Brian F. Mannix
The Hastings Center has published “Benefit-Cost Analysis and Emerging Technologies,” by RSC’s Brian Mannix, as part of a special report funded by the National Science Foundation. The full report explores the governance of newly developed techniques in bioengineering – such as the ability to modify a species in the wild, or render it (a mosquito, for example) extinct. Mannix argues that, properly understood, benefit-cost analysis is an appropriate technique for determining which actions are in the public interest. He also cautions against a “precautionary” approach that would shift the burden onto new technologies to demonstrate safety before they can be used.

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A Proposed Framework for Evidence-Based Regulation

February 22, 2018

By Marcus Peacock, Sofie E. Miller, & Daniel R. Pérez
Policymakers and scholars have given serious thought to how evidence-based approaches can improve policymaking, but using evidence to improve regulatory outcomes requires a separate framework than the one currently in use. This paper details how the regulatory process differs from other federal policymaking and establishes a framework for evidence-based regulation (EBR) to improve regulatory outcomes by planning for, collecting, and using evidence throughout the life a regulation. The authors discuss the main barriers that regulatory agencies face in implementing an EBR approach and advance concrete proposals for overcoming these barriers.

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Book Review of Andrew W. Lo's "Review of Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought"

February 08, 2018

By Susan E. Dudley
What drives our responses to risk and uncertainty, and how can we improve them? In his 2017 book, Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought, MIT Sloan finance professor Andrew Lo answers that question using evolutionary concepts and insights, including competition, innovation, reproduction, and adaptation.

Index of Economic Freedom 2017

International Regulatory Indexes at a Glance

January 29, 2018

By Zhoudan Xie
This Regulatory Insight provides an overview of how regulation is measured and compared across countries, compares the available measures, and examines where the U.S. stands relative to other countries. Internationally-comparable measures of regulation are mostly constructed through the composite index approach. This Insight reviews five international regulatory indexes measuring economic freedom, business/competition friendliness, and social regulation. The indexes differ significantly in terms of the coverage of regulation, methodologies and data. Even indexes measuring the same dimension of regulation can present different results, depending on the specific variables and data chosen.