Commentary Archive

Susan E. Dudley

EPA Proposes Replacement for Obama’s Signature Climate Initiative

August 22, 2018

8/22/18 - On August 21, 2018, EPA proposed its replacement for the Clean Power Plan that the Supreme Court stayed in 2016. The new “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule is dramatically different from the Obama-era Clean Power Plan; it focuses on increasing efficiency and providing states more flexibility, rather than shifting power generation away from coal and fossil fuels. Dudley reviews the legal and analytical background for the rule and observes that market forces will likely cause greenhouse gas emissions to continue to decline.


Regulatory Sandboxes: The future of regulation?

August 01, 2018

8/2/18 - On June 19, 2018, the Deloitte Center for Government Insights published an article on The Future of Regulation: Principles for Regulating Emerging Technologies. In it, William D. Eggers, Mike Turley, and Pankaj Kishnani lay out the business and technological challenges of regulating today’s technologies. The article offers five principles for regulating emerging technologies: adaptive regulation, outcome-based regulation, risk-weighted regulation, collaborative regulation, and regulatory sandboxes. This commentary explores regulatory sandboxes, a concept borrowed from the tech sector and first implemented in the United Kingdom.

Mark & Samantha

FCC Process Reform Underscores Need for Economic Review at Independent Regulatory Agencies

July 24, 2018

7/24/18 - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael O'Rielly recently made the case for the agency to provide more detailed benefit-cost analyses, and to establish better internal processes aimed at improving regulatory outcomes - other independent agencies should take note.

Lisa Zimmer

DHS Proposes Raising Barriers to Foreign Entrepreneurship in the U.S.

July 16, 2018

7/16/18 - The Department of Homeland Security is proposing to eliminate its international entrepreneur program, which was created in 2017, despite the agency's previous findings that the program will increase economic growth, job creation, and U.S. based innovation. The proposal also runs contrary to the administration's declared policy of shifting towards a more merit-based immigration system, decreasing regulatory costs, and demonstrated early success from the program.

Julie Balla

Regulators’ Budget: OIRA’s Growth and the Future of Regulatory Reform

July 09, 2018

7/9/18 - As OIRA continues to oversee the Trump Administration's efforts to cut regulatory red tape, the growing scope of OIRA's regulatory review could mean increases in staffing and funding. A look at this year's Regulators' Budget shows a larger OIRA staff than years past, a signal that growing responsibilities might require more resources in the future.

GW Reg Studies Logo

FDA's Proposal to Regulate Nicotine Levels

June 25, 2018

6/25/18 - In a comment filed on the advanced notice, David Zorn observes that FDA’s plan to develop a maximum nicotine level for cigarettes in hopes to establish a standard that doesn't initiate or perpetuate addiction to cigarettes for potential smokers is a novel and creative approach to promote public health. Although such an approach was suggested decades ago, it has not been implemented in any other country. The plan is creative because, rather than attempting to regulate the hazards out of a product that some consumers demand, the policy would reduce the appeal of a product that is laden with hazards. However, the plan is speculative and unproven, and some tests of its underlying hypothesis cast some doubt on its likelihood of success.

Susan Dudley

U.S. and Canada Sign Agreement on Regulatory Cooperation

June 06, 2018

6/06/18 - The Treasury Board of Canada and the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week to continue collaborating on the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council. With the goal of reducing unnecessary differences between the two countries' regulatory framework, the MOU promotes a joint effort to create mutually beneficial economic outcomes, despite recent trade tariffs imposed on Canada by the U.S.

Photo of Daniel Perez - Commentary Author

Spring Unified Agenda Sustains Deregulatory Focus

May 10, 2018

5/10/2018 - The Spring 2018 Unified Agenda includes a total of 3,352 regulatory actions, 234 of which are classified as regulatory, 611 as deregulatory, with the remainder exempt or classified as “other.” Of the total number of actions, 139 are economically significant. The Agenda distinguishes between active regulations (those with milestones within the next 12 months), long-term actions, and completed actions. Of the 2,226 actions listed as active approximately 24% are published for the first time in this Spring Agenda. Altogether, for active actions in the Agenda, executive agencies under the Trump administration plan to take an average of approximately 4 deregulatory actions for every 1 regulatory action.

Image of Aryamala Prasad - Commentary Author

GDPR: Does it matter on this side of the Atlantic?

May 07, 2018

5/07/2018 - Europe's implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will compel companies and organizations to abide by new data collection requirements, and require certain firms to staff a Data Protection Officer tasked with monitoring data security and producing impact assessments. Further changes will require individuals to "opt-in" to all forms of data sharing, and require companies to report any data breaches within 72 hours. These changes will certainly impact U.S. tech firms, but may also affect non-profit and higher education institutions, along with hospitality, travel, and e-commerce companies.

Susan E. Dudley

Regulating Within a Budget

April 23, 2018

4/23/18 - Despite his rhetoric on regulation, President Trump continues to require agencies to make decisions based on an understanding of regulatory benefits and costs. Although he has overlaid a budget constraint on these existing requirements, and his executive orders signal less emphasis on estimating regulatory benefits, this may not be all bad.

Susan Dudley

Reviewers and Revenooers Reach Compromise

April 16, 2018

4/16/18 - After weeks of negotiations, the Treasury Department and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) agreed last week that IRS regulations would be subject to the same analytical requirements and interagency review as other agencies’ rules. Susan Dudley thinks the memorandum of agreement strikes the right balance between ensuring regulations are well-reasoned and cost-effective, while not inhibiting the issuance of timely guidance for taxpayers.

Image of Stuart Shapiro - Commentary Author

Embracing Ossification: Trump and the Shifting Politics of Procedural Controls

April 10, 2018

4/10/2018 - This article examines the effects of procedural requirements for both the implementation and repeal of agency rules. Cost-benefit analyses, judicial reviews, and other requirements in the rule-making process formalized by the Administrative Procedure Act and Information Quality Act have long been championed by opponents of regulatory accumulation as a means to slow the growth of regulations. Reform initiatives under the current administration to delay implementation of new rules or repeal current rules are now facing these same barriers that have lead toward a rigid, fastened regulatory state.

Carrigan & Xie

Organizing Agencies to Promulgate Rules

March 09, 2018

3/9/18 - Although federal law specifies procedures and requirements for agencies to consider public feedback in how they design their rules, the ways in which they plan for and develop these rules internally is largely a “black box” which is far less understood by this same public, or even scholars for that matter. Yet, as a recent GW Regulatory Studies Center working paper by Christopher Carrigan and Russell Mills demonstrates, agencies can employ very different decision-making configurations to administer their internal rulemaking processes, which can have important effects on the character and timing of the resulting rules.

Sofie Miller

OMB Report on Regulatory Costs & Benefits Leaves Room for Regulatory Reform

February 26, 2018

2/26/2018 - On Friday, OMB released its Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations, which provides a window into the benefits and costs of 137 regulations issued between fiscal year 2007 and FY 2016. According to agency estimates, these 137 rules add up to $930.3 billion in annual benefits and $128.4 billion in annual costs. The rules included in this report are those issued by previous administrations, and as a result these totals don’t include the regulatory reforms implemented during the first year of the Trump administration.

Aryamala Prasad

Quality, not Quantity, is Key to Effective Commenting

February 20, 2018

2/20/18 - The deluge of comments on the recent Net Neutrality rule has raised concerns regarding public participation in rulemaking. Fake comments are presumed to threaten the democratic process and unfairly impact the outcomes. But a closer look at the regulatory process shows that the quality of comments is far more important than the quantity.