Publications

Regulatory Studies Center scholars conduct applied research to understand regulatory policy and practice from a public interest perspective. Many of our publications fall into the following categories:

Recent Publications

EPA Logo

Public Interest Comment: Increasing Transparency in Considering Costs and Benefits in the Rulemaking Process

August 14, 2018

By: Brian F. Mannix
In this comment, Mannix explores the reasons why the Environmental Protection Agency might choose to conduct a rulemaking on the general topic of how it considers benefits and costs, reviews some of the legal considerations that should be brought to bear on that effort, and recommends that the administration consider encouraging this type of activity in other agencies.

Transparency

Public Interest Comment: EPA's Benefit-Cost Analysis in the Rulemaking Process

August 13, 2018

By: Joseph J. Cordes
In this comment, Cordes discusses the value-added of using benefit-cost analysis in the regulatory process, the extent to which guidance is presently available on the application of benefit-cost analysis to regulatory analysis, the specific issue of which stakeholders should receive standing in benefit-cost analysis, and the inclusion of indirect effects, also referred to as co-benefits, in benefit-cost calculations.

Supreme Court Economic Review

Benefit-Cost Analysis as a Check on Administrative Discretion

August 06, 2018

By Brian F. Mannix
Benefit-cost analysis (BCA) continues to be the principal tool used by American presidents to guide the discretionary decisions of regulatory agencies under their supervision, and increasingly it is viewed by the courts as an important consideration for agencies to take into account in justifying their regulatory decisions. This paper argues that BCA is properly viewed, not simply as a technocratic planning tool, but as a solution to a principal-agent problem. Specifically, it is intended to test whether an agency can demonstrate that it is acting in the public interest. Viewed in this light, some common analytical practices used by regulatory agencies become questionable. A BCA should not, for example, use an assumption that consumers are irrational to support a claim that coercive regulation is making them better off. Consumer sovereignty is axiomatic in BCA, and an agency that uses BCA to justify its actions must accept individuals’ judgments about their own welfare.

Supreme Court Economic Review

Improving Regulatory Science: A Case Study of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards

August 02, 2018

By Susan E. Dudley & Marcus Peacock
This paper explores the motivations and institutional incentives of participants involved in the development of regulation aimed at reducing health risks, with a goal of understanding and identifying solutions to what the Bipartisan Policy Center has characterized as “a tendency to frame regulatory issues as debates solely about science, regardless of the actual subject in dispute, [that] is at the root of the stalemate and acrimony all too present in the regulatory system today.” We focus our analysis with a case study of the procedures for developing National Ambient Air Quality Standards under the Clean Air Act, and attempt to identify procedural approaches that bring greater diversity (in data, expertise, experience, and accountability) into the decision process.

First 18 months chart

Trump Administration Picks up the Regulatory Pace in its Second Year

August 01, 2018

By Bridget C.E. Dooling
With the first 18 months of the Trump Administration complete, we can check in on his regulatory activity to date. This new analysis shows that Trump's regulatory activity is 70% lower than it was at the same point in the Obama Administration; a striking result for an administration that has made regulatory reform a signature issue.

benefit cost analysis

Public Interest Comment: Increasing Consistency and Transparency in EPA's Benefit Cost Analysis

July 17, 2018

By Susan E. Dudley
In this comment, Dudley supports EPA’s efforts to improve the transparency and consistency of the analysis supporting its significant regulations and, referring to the Consumer’s Guide to Regulatory Impact Analysis, reviews ten tips for achieving this objective. She encourages EPA, as a first step, to review all its statutory authority and, to the maximum extent possible, interpret its statutory standards through a lens of standard benefit-cost analysis principles.

DHS Logo

Public Interest Comment on DHS's Proposed Rule: Removal of International Entrepreneur Parole Program

June 29, 2018

By: Daniel R. Pérez & Lisa Zimmer
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.

FDA Logo

Public Interest Comment on FDA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Tobacco Product Standard for Nicotine Level of Combusted Cigarettes

June 15, 2018

By: David Zorn, Ph.D.
In a comment filed on the "Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Tobacco Product Standard for Nicotine Level of Combusted Cigarettes," Zorn observes that the FDA's plan to develop a maximum nicotine level for cigarettes is a novel and creative approach to promote public health. He also examines some drawbacks of the FDA's plan, including the speculative and unproven nature of the underlying hypothesis, as well as the limitations of removing access to only combustible sources of nicotine.

eggs

Public Interest Comment on The Food Safety and Inspection Service’s proposed rule: Egg Products Inspection Regulations

June 12, 2018

By: Richard B. Belzer, Independent Consultant
This public interest comment provides an overview of the Food Safety Inspection Service’s (FSIS) proposed rule requiring official plants that process egg products to develop and implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Systems and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures. FSIS would eliminate certain existing requirements, and add new labeling requirements. The comment reviews the justifications for the rulemaking change, and provides answers to how it would affect previous rules, industry growth, and foodborne illness rates.

Image of Zhoudan Xie and Daniel R. Pérez

A Taxonomy of Regulatory Forms

May 30, 2018

By: Zhoudan Xie & Daniel R. Pérez
This Regulatory Insight addresses the information gap in how regulations are measured when determining their effect on economic growth and other macroeconomic measures by developing a taxonomy of regulatory forms. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this framework allows regulations to be classified by the form they employ to achieve the stated regulatory outcomes. We expect this taxonomy to also be applicable to industries outside of agriculture, and to be utilized by researchers and analysts in a wide range of fields as a framework for informing research on the relative effectiveness of different regulatory forms to address market and social problems.