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.



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.

Drone

Public Interest Comment on the Federal Aviation Administration's Proposed Rule: Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

April 24, 2015

By Blake Taylor, Policy Analyst
The FAA suggests that this rule will be the first step in a long, complex path of integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System. However, it will be a challenege for the Administration to ensure that this incremental approach occurs at a pace that closely mirrors market and technological changes. Because UAS are nascent technologies, the FAA has very little information on the potential benefits and risks. Retrospective review involving ambitious data collection is essential to structuring the future steps in the integration framework. In order for UAS to be truly integrated into the NAS, the FAA must commit now to ensure the rulemaking process going forward is more dynamic, and respectful of the societal gains innovation can bring.

Pregnant woman

Public Interest Comment on the Department of Labor's Proposed Rule: Discrimination on the Basis of Sex

April 16, 2015

By Lynn White, Esq.
In this proposed rule, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) attempts to clarify the requirements that contractors must fulfill to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex. The OFCCP understated the total costs of the proposed rule, limiting the regulatory analysis to rule familiarization and new costs associated with providing pregnancy accommodations to a limited number of contractor employees. However, actual costs could reach an estimated $130 million or more per year, according to the author's analysis.

Debit card

Public Comment: Prepaid Accounts Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (Regulation E) and the Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z)

March 23, 2015

By Blake Taylor, Policy Analyst
This Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or “Bureau”) proposed rule would extend various consumer protections to prepaid account products. Protections for traditional bank account and credit products now exist through Regulation E, which governs electronic funds transfers, and Regulation Z, which governs the use of consumer credit. However, prepaid accounts such as debit cards that can be pre-loaded with funds are currently unregulated. CFPB proposes to amend Regulation E and Regulation Z to apply existing and new protections to these relatively new financial products by imposing various information disclosure, limited liability, error resolution, and consumer credit requirements. Before proceeding, CFPB should gather more updated information on the prepaid debit card market about sellers and buyers of prepaid cards, as required by statute. As this proposal stands, it is likely to increase costs and may reduce access with little or no discernible benefits for card users.

Ozone image

Public Comment: National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone

March 17, 2015

By Louis Anthony (Tony) Cox, Jr., Affiliated Scholar
EPA’s quantitative risk estimate (QRA) provides no legitimate reason to believe that the proposed action is “requisite to protect public health” or that reducing the ozone standard further will cause any public health benefits. Given EPA’s information and the unquantified model uncertainty that remains, there is no sound technical basis for asserting with confidence, based on the models and analyses in EPA’s ozone risk assessment, that an ozone standard of 65 ppb would be any more protective than 70 ppb, or that 80 ppb is less protective than 60 ppb. To the contrary, available data suggest that further reductions in ozone levels will make no difference to public health, just as recent past reductions in ozone have had no detectable causal impact on improving public health.

EPA flag

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

December 02, 2014

By Brian Mannix
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.

Pie chart: benefit composition of DOE rule

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

December 01, 2014

by Sofie E. Miller
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.

cars

Public Interest Comment on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards: Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communications

October 21, 2014

By Gerald W. Brock and Lindsay M. Abate (Scherber)
Seeking to address the high number of motor vehicle crashes in the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued an ANPRM that preliminarily proposes to mandate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication capabilities in new passenger cars and light trucks beginning in 2020. While NHTSA argues that a mandate is necessary to induce collective action because "no single manufacturer will have the incentive to build vehicles able to 'talk' to other vehicles if there are no other vehicles to talk to," we argue that the agency has not clearly demonstrated a market failure that requires regulation. Second, we contend, based on previous government attempts at anticipatory standardization, that it is impossible to predict the future course of technology with enough confidence to prescribe a specific detailed standard that will remain in effect for many years. Finally, we argue that NHTSA's cost-benefit analysis, though necessarily uncertain at this time, appears to underestimate some costs and overestimate some benefits.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration logo

Retrospective Review Comment

April 23, 2014

Retrospective Review Comment: NHTSA's Safety Standards for Child Restraint Systems-Side Impact Protection

This comment on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s proposed rule setting side-impact requirements for child restraint systems is part of a new project to evaluate how well agencies are preparing for retrospective review and analysis of regulations, pursuant to Executive Order 13563.

Earth

Public Interest Comment on The Interagency Technical Support Document: Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis under Executive Order No. 12866

February 26, 2014

By Susan E. Dudley and Brian Mannix
This comment endorses the administration’s effort to arrive at a uniform SCC, to help ensure internal consistency across a portfolio of policies directed at reducing carbon emissions. However, it raises concerns that the task of estimating the SCC was undertaken with an apparent bias that needs to be corrected before it can be taken as objective.

Peppers

Public Interest Comment on the Food and Drug Administration’s Proposed Rule: Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption

August 12, 2013

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rule establishing standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding raw produce does not fully meet its statutory obligations and fails to satisfy the regulatory analysis requirements in Executive Orders 12866 and 13563. The rule’s authorizing statue, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), requires science-based standards and provision of flexibility to all businesses, especially small businesses. However, the proposed rule relies on highly uncertain data to calculate its benefits, and the current formulation of the rule is likely to have a disproportionately negative impact on the small and very small farms covered by the rule. Furthermore, according to FDA’s Preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis, the regulatory option chosen in the proposed rule does not maximize net benefits. The comment recommends exempting farms with less than $100,000 in annual sales, removing expensive and relatively ineffective standards from the rule, using more realistic statistical representation to calculate the benefits, and explicitly providing for biannual retrospective review to facilitate future improvements to the rule.