department of energy

Regressive Furnace Fans

April 16, 2014

By Sofie E. Miller
In October, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a proposed rule setting energy efficiency standards for residential furnace fans. The rule is intended to save consumers money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the DOE’s use of low discount rates when estimating the benefits of the fans results in a proposed rule that would benefit well-off Americans but harm low- and medianincome households. That raises the question of whether the rule is economically justified and would improve social welfare, as required by law.

Susan Dudley with Senator Lieberman

OSHA’s Long-Awaited Crystalline Silica Rule

April 16, 2014

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently sought comment on proposed standards to reduce occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The agency faces multiple challenges in devising a regulatory approach that will meet its statutory goal of reducing significant risk. In a comment filed on the public record, University of Alabama law professor Andrew Morriss and I recognize OSHA’s challenges; however, we find that the greatest obstacle to reducing risks associated with silica exposure is not lack of will (on the part of employers or employees), but rather lack of information. Our analysis concludes that the proposed rule will contribute little in the way of new information and, indeed, may stifle the necessary generation of knowledge by precluding flexibility for experimentation and learning.