Public Comments

The GW Regulatory Studies Center scholars independently pursue high quality research to illuminate regulatory theory, policy, and practice; the Center does not take institutional positions on issues. To maintain its independence and the quality and integrity of its products, the GW Regulatory Studies Center does not accept funding that stipulates predetermined results or that limits dissemination of its scholarly activity or research. While the Center files public comments on specific regulations, it does so from the perspective of the public interest, and will not accept direct funding for individual comments.



Manufactured homes

Public Comment on Energy Conservation Standards for Manufactured Housing

August 16, 2016

By Sofie E. Miller
The Department of Energy’s proposed rule would establish new energy efficiency standards for manufactured housing (formerly known as mobile homes). Due to anticipated price increases, the rule would have a regressive effect on low-income and elderly households, who are the primary occupants of manufactured homes. DOE’s analysis doesn’t take into account resale market obstacles that could prevent homeowners from recouping the higher upfront costs of efficient units, especially in Southern states with high poverty rates that bear the highest costs from the rule.

Diploma

Public Comment on The Department of Education’s Proposed Rule on Student Assistance General Provisions, Federal Student Loans Programs and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant Program

August 02, 2016

By Daniel R. Pérez
The total outstanding balance of student loans is currently estimated to be $1.35 trillion, and default rates among borrowers have reached their highest levels in 20 years. The rule proposed by The Department of Education (ED) would make several amendments to regulations governing its Federal Direct Loan Program, including: 1) an expansion of the conditions wherein ED forgives borrowers’ loan balances, 2) additional provisions that broaden its ability to recover losses from institutions, and 3) expanded financial requirements for postsecondary schools. ED estimates this rule could have annual federal budget impacts of up to$4.23 billion.

Corn field at sunset

Public Comment on EPA’s Proposed Renewable Fuel Standards for 2017 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2018

July 12, 2016

By Sofie E. Miller
EPA’s latest Renewable Fuel Standard proposal would increase the mandated total renewable fuel production to 18.8 billion gallons in 2017. Although it was intended to improve the environment, availability of new scientific, technical, and economic information shows that the RFS program is likely causing significant environmental harm through increased greenhouse gas emissions and damage to waterbodies and ecosystems. 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.

Department of Energy seal

Public Comment on DOE’s Regulatory Burden Request for Information "Reducing Regulatory Burden"

July 11, 2016

By Sofie E. Miller
To improve its ongoing retrospective review efforts, this public comment recommends that the Department of Energy incorporate plans for retrospective review into its economically significant or major rules, and provide enough time between energy efficiency standards to allow for an effective review of each rule before increasing the stringency of its standards. DOE should also consider surveys or other measures of actual consumer behavior to ensure that its assumptions about household appliance energy use are accurate. Finally, DOE should commit to measuring whether its standards negatively affect competition in regulated industries.

FCC

Public Comment on Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services

May 27, 2016

By J. Howard Beales III
The FCC has proposed detailed rules governing privacy practices of broadband Internet access service (“BIAS”) providers. The rule would establish new, and different, privacy standards, beyond those that apply to other Internet companies. This comment argues that the FCC’s rationales for treating BIAS providers differently are flawed and the proposed separate regulatory regime for broadband providers would inhibit innovation, reduce competition, and harm consumers. If it feels it must regulate, the FCC should adopt a functionality based approach to privacy regulation to maximize consumer welfare.

Mosquito alert

Public Comment on FDA’s Public Availability of: Draft Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact Concerning Investigational Use of Oxitec OX513A Mosquitoes

May 13, 2016

By Daniel R. Pérez
Genetically-modified mosquitoes hold great promise for addressing mosquito-borne diseases that threaten South Florida. Yet, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has been waiting since 2011 for approval from FDA to allow the biotechnology company Oxitec to conduct field trials for this promising technology. This public interest comment points out that the trial poses no appreciable risk to human or animal health or the environment. The unusually lengthy timeframe for approval has unnecessarily limited our ability to combat the spread of life-threatening diseases, like Zika and Dengue.

White House

Public Comment to the National Economic Council on The President's Executive Order 13725: Steps to Increase Competition and Better Inform Consumers and Workers to Support Continued Growth of the American Economy

May 12, 2016

By Sofie E. Miller, Daniel R. Pérez, Susan E. Dudley & Brian Mannix
This public comment suggests several areas of regulatory policy where federal regulations have hindered, rather than helped, competition, and recommends that agencies take this opportunity to reduce these regulatory barriers to competition.

EPA

Are Future Lives Worth More, Today, Than Our Own – Simply Because of Income Growth?

March 07, 2016

By Brian Mannix
The EPA has presented its Environmental Economics Advisory Committee a series of questions that relate to an analytical procedure for estimating the value of statistical lives saved in the future – possibly the distant future – as a result of regulations imposed today. Intertwined with the detailed analytical questions, however, is a fundamental ethical and methodological question: Is it right to force a relatively poor population to pay an inflated price – higher than they are willing to pay to save their own lives – to save the lives of a richer population, on the theory that rich people’s lives are more valuable?

Globe

Should Federal Regulatory Agencies Report Benefits to Americans from Mandated Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

February 09, 2016

By Art Fraas, Randall Lutter, Susan E. Dudley, Ted Gayer, John Graham, Jason F. Shogren, W. Kip Viscusi
In a letter to the National Academy of Sciences on its project, "Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon," a group of prominent regulatory economists argues that federal regulatory analysis should compare domestic regulatory benefits to domestic costs. The current government approach of reporting only the global benefits of reducing carbon emissions neglects that duty. The letter recommends that the panel adopt a dual approach that refocuses regulatory impact analysis of climate regulations on domestic benefits, while providing for separate reporting of estimated global benefits.

Supreme Court

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

January 11, 2016

By Susan E. Dudley
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.

OMB seal

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

December 15, 2015

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.

European Power Plant

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

November 19, 2015

By Brian Mannix
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.

Truck fleet

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

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.

Sequoyah nuclear power plant

Public Comment: NRC's Financial Qualifications for Reactor Licensing

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.

EPA flag

Public Comment: EPA's Proposed Renewable Fuel Standards for 2014, 2015, and 2016

July 24, 2015

By Sofie E. Miller, Senior Policy Analyst
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.