Commentary Archive

Daniel R. Pérez

Insights on South Korea’s Public-Private Partnership for Regulatory Reform

December 21, 2015

By Daniel R. Pérez
12/21/15 - Representatives from Korea’s Public-Private Joint Regulation Advancement Initiative (PPJRAI) recently concluded their visit to the United States, where they met with regulatory experts from both the public and private sectors in Washington, D.C. This public-private initiative constitutes an important part of Korea’s efforts to build on its successful history of regulatory reform and improve the market-oriented features of its regulatory system. The GW Regulatory Studies Center met with representatives from PPJRAI to discuss regulatory reform, including its mandate to improve conditions for small and medium enterprises (SME) operating in the Korean economy.

Randall Lutter

Herding Genetically Engineered Animals to Market

December 17, 2015

By Randall Lutter
12/17/15 - The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) recent decision to approve a genetically engineered salmon for human consumption bodes well for people interested in cheaper fish that are rich in omega three fatty acids. This commentary explores what could either be a new era of innovative animal biotechnology or continuing stagnation.

Sofie E. Miller

Missed Opportunity for EPA to Cut Back Renewable Fuel Standard

December 16, 2015

12/16/15 - EPA’s newest renewable fuel standard rule mandates the production of over 18 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2016. Unfortunately, this biofuel mandate is bad news for the environment and for American consumers: the past decade has provided evidence that mandated ethanol production could be creating more carbon dioxide emissions than gasoline and polluting waterbodies via nitrogen fertilizer runoff. The latest final RFS rule was a missed opportunity for EPA to slow the growth of biofuel mandates that increase pollution without accomplishing important environmental goals.

Daniel R. Pérez

Midnight Rules: A Comparison of Regulatory Output Across Administrations

December 01, 2015

By Daniel R. Pérez
12/1/15 - As Presidential administrations wind down during their “lame duck” period, their final three months between Election Day and Inauguration Day is usually accompanied by a flurry of last-minute regulatory activity known as the Midnight period. This last-minute increase has direct implications for the quality of review that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is able to provide. To get a better sense of what the next Midnight period might mean for the quality of regulatory oversight, we compare President Obama’s current level of regulatory output relative to his predecessors’—Presidents Clinton and Bush.

Ana Maria Zarate Moreno

One (un)remarkable problem?

November 23, 2015

By Ana Maria Zárate Moreno
11/23/15 - The U.S. Congress and the Executive have implemented different initiatives to evaluate the effectiveness of existing regulations, but despite all these developments, some challenges still exist to systematically conduct retrospective review. There is an ongoing debate on the most effective institutional oversight, procedural requirements and methods needed for a well-functioning retrospective review system. This commentary addresses some of the challenges and argues that inviting program evaluation experts to the regulatory reform debate will be beneficial for the implementation of “retrospective reviews."

Sydney E. Allen

Political Discourse Includes Regulatory Reform

November 18, 2015

By Sydney E. Allen
11/18/15 - Regulation is one of the primary vehicles by which a president can affect public policy without going to Congress. For the women and men vying for the job of president, regulatory reform is a key topic of discussion on the 2016 campaign trail. This commentary provides a review of the presidential candidates’ positions on regulatory reform related to recent debates, speeches and public comments.

Daniel R. Perez

Early Notice from U.S. Agencies Could Help Avoid Creating Barriers to Trade

November 11, 2015

By Daniel R. Pérez
11/11/15 - Countries engaged in international trade and investment have been largely successful at reducing many of the traditional barriers to the flow of goods, such as tariffs. As a result, trade deals are increasingly prioritizing the elimination of unnecessary regulatory differences between trade partners which act as a lingering barrier to trade, creating inefficiencies that unnecessarily raise costs for businesses and consumers. This commentary addresses an important mechanism in successful international regulatory cooperation involving efforts by trade partners to provide advanced notice of upcoming regulations that are likely to affect international trade and investment.

Sofie Miller

Evaluating Retrospective Review of Regulations in 2014

November 04, 2015

By Sofie E. Miller
11/4/15 - Learning from experience is an important part of a healthy regulatory process, so multiple government guidelines instruct agencies to incorporate retrospective review plans into their proposals during the rulemaking process. This commentary reviews our latest research, which finds that agencies are not planning prospectively for ex post analysis of their rules. We provide three recommendations to agencies for building their rules to enable better measurement ex post.

Wallace Oates

Personal reflections on a consummate professor: Wallace Oates, 1937 - 2015

November 03, 2015

By Albert McGartland, Ph.D.
11/3/15 - Guest post by Albert McGartland reflecting on the life of Wallace Oates: I was a first-year grad student at the University of Maryland in 1979 when I learned that Wally Oates was joining the Economics Department and would teach Environmental Economics in the fall. At the time, I harbored no thoughts of a field in Environmental Economics, but nor did I want to pass up an opportunity to learn from one of our leading academics. I decided to take Wally’s course. The rest, as they say, is history. I never looked back.

Susan Dudley

The Ozone Charade

October 28, 2015

By Susan E. Dudley, Director
10/28/15 - EPA asserts its new 70 parts per billion (ppb) ozone standard, published in the Federal Register on October 26, will avoid 320 to 660 premature deaths each year. However, the agency’s own analysis claims that a more stringent 65 ppb standard would have saved an additional 1,274 to 2,660 lives per year. This commentary examines how, if EPA is required to base the standard on health considerations only, without considering economic factors, can it reconcile setting a standard that leaves so many lives unprotected?

Sofie Miller

OMB Reports Higher Costs and Lower Benefits in 2015 Draft Report

October 21, 2015

by Sofie E. Miller, Senior Policy Analyst
10/21/15 - On October 16, the Office Management and Budget released its annual Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations, which provides a window into regulatory activity conducted by federal agencies in Fiscal Year 2014. The Report estimates that the new regulations issued last fiscal year have both higher costs and lower benefits than those issued in FY 2013, and that the Environmental Protection Agency remains by far the largest contributor to both regulatory costs and benefits in this Report.

Brian Mannix

The Tension between Optimization and Competition in Rulemaking: The Case of Proposed Fuel-Efficiency Standards for Trucks

October 08, 2015

by Brian Mannix, Research Professor
10/8/15 - Choosing regulatory options that maximize net benefits is a sound principle, but it needs to be applied with an appropriate measure of humility. Regulators may be tempted to think that they can use benefit-cost analysis to determine what is “best” for the economy, and then simply mandate it. The collateral damage to competition and innovation can easily turn an otherwise well-intentioned rule into an economic disaster. Regulatory specification of a particular technology can be especially damaging when the technology is proprietary, because then the law may simultaneously lock out competitors and lock in customers.

Susan Dudley

EPA’s Ozone Rule and the Scientization of Policy

October 07, 2015

by Susan E. Dudley, Director
10/7/15 - This commentary questions EPA’s claim that its new ozone standard is based purely on science, untainted by economic or political considerations. When science is the only factor that can legally be considered in setting a standard, no one is immune to the temptation to put a spin on science to advance policy goals. Current procedures are not transparent and lead to distortions and false precision in the presentation of scientific information, blurring the line between science and policy and contributing to what Dudley calls the “scientization of policy.”

Friedrich von Hayek

With Data, Will Regulators Show Humility or Hubris?

September 22, 2015

by Susan E. Dudley, Director
Rapid technological change, big data, and greater interconnectivity are poised to transform the way we live and work. In the hands of entrepreneurs subject to competitive pressures and a light regulatory hand, they can yield innovations beyond our imagination. For this to occur, however, government regulators must resist the temptation to think that more data should be used to design more detailed interventions in private activities. Rather, guided by the principle of “epistemic humility,” regulation should be designed to encourage competition and experimentation.

Sofie Miller

The Questionable Benefits of Energy Efficiency Standards

September 15, 2015

By Sofie E. Miller, Senior Policy Analyst
American consumers may not be aware that, over the past decade, government agencies have issued a spate of new regulations establishing costly energy efficiency standards for appliances that most households rely on for everyday tasks, including dishwashers, microwaves, clothes washers, furnaces, and air conditioners. Our latest working paper finds that, while the costs of the standards are very real, the benefits that the Department of Energy relies on to justify its rules don’t stand up to scrutiny.