Grist Gets Very Confused on EPA’s Coal Ash Rule


by William Yeatman

Over at Grist, Ben Adler repackaged press releases from Sierra Club and NRDC into a story about the supposed leniency of EPA’s final coal ash rule, a pre publication version of which was issued last Friday. Of course, retransmitting pressers by environmental special interests is nothing new for Grist’s brand of “independent green journalism.” And if the author had limited himself to parroting green groups, I’d have no reason to post. But in the second half of his blog entry, Adler took it upon himself to try to do some real reporting, and that’s when he got into trouble. To be precise, he reported on the wrong rule.

Satisfaction Is Not the Same as Policy Success

From: RegBlog | Penn Program on Regulation

Regulatory policies that satisfy the interests involved in policy-making are often assumed to be better policies. Numerous studies purport to evaluate the success of public participation by asking individuals what they think of the regulatory processes and outcomes in proceedings in which they were involved. Although data on participant satisfaction can potentially provide useful feedback to those who facilitate various kinds of policy deliberations, satisfaction is not an appropriate basis for evaluating the overall value of public policies or even ultimately of the processes by which these policies are made.

EPA’s Coal Ash Rule Demonstrates Worthiness of White House Regulatory Review


by William Yeatman

Earlier today, I posted a primer on the EPA’s pending coal ash rule. In fact, the rule is almost assuredly going to be a far superior regulation than the shoddy version EPA originally drafted. And the means by which the rule improved in quality sheds much light on a little noticed yet supremely important component of the rulemaking process: White House regulatory review.

White House Regulatory Review: The Bare Bones Basics


Dialysis Facility Compare Star Ratings Draw First Challenge To CMS Quality Measures Under Data Quality Act

Editor’s Note: The Request for Correction is attached here.

Skewed geographic distribution of star ratings demonstrates program’s flaws, says Dialysis Patient Citizens

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Dialysis Patient Citizens has filed the first challenge to a CMS quality program under the Data Quality Act, contending that the agency’s Dialysis Facility Compare (DFC) star ratings methodology fails to satisfy federal requirements for objectivity and utility in presenting information to the public. The day after being served with the complaint, CMS conceded it should have conducted cognitive testing of this system on consumers, reversing a position the agency had defended for nearly four months.

The Legal Olympian

From: Harvard Magazine

Cass Sunstein and the modern regulatory state

by Lincoln Caplan

Cass Sunstein ’75, J.D. ’78, has been regarded as one of the country’s most influential and adventurous legal scholars for a generation. His scholarly articles have been cited more often than those of any of his peers ever since he was a young professor. At 60, now Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, he publishes significant books as often as many productive academics publish scholarly articles—three of them last year. In each, Sunstein comes across as a brainy and cheerful technocrat, practiced at thinking about the consequences of rules, regulations, and policies, with attention to the linkages between particular means and ends. Drawing on insights from cognitive psychology as well as behavioral economics, he is especially focused on mastering how people make significant choices that promote or undercut their own well-being and that of society, so government and other institutions can reinforce the good and correct for the bad in shaping policy.

The cornerstone of regulatory reform

From: The Hill

By Jerry Ellig and Richard Williams

When the 114th Congress assembles in January, members will have a plethora of proposed regulatory reforms on their plate. These plans range from required congressional approval for major regulations to stronger judicial review standards. Setting priorities will be a challenge, but one reform can lay a crucial cornerstone—statutory regulatory analysis standards for all regulators.

Regulatory expertise requires the discipline to conduct quality economic analysis. In order to get a good result from regulations, it’s important to use good inputs before writing them. Unfortunately, federal regulatory analysis is poor at best. If it were better, agencies could solve more problems at lower costs with fewer regulations.

Why OIRA Should Coordinate Federal Cyber Security Regulation

From: CircleID

By Bruce Levinson

Two quick facts about American industry’s resilience against cyber-attack, (1) our critical infrastructure is inadequately protected and (2) federal regulation will be required to fix the problem, reliance on market forces alone will not be sufficient irrespective of whether or not Sony Pictures survives. Although regulation is needed, it needs to be coordinated and, above all, cost-effective.

Which agency is charge of regulating cybersecurity? Right now, it’s a free for all with agencies staking out turf and claims of authority. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which does not have specific critical infrastructure protection responsibilities under either Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21) or the President’s Executive Order 13636 on improving cybersecurity, is among the most aggressive of agencies in asserting regulatory authority.

Standards Alliance Workshop in Lima Focuses on Regulatory Decision-Making in the U.S. and Peru

Editor’s Note: For information about OIRA setting federal policy on the use of consensus and market-driven standards, please see here.

From: ANSI

On October 29-30, 2014, the Standards Alliance, a public-private partnership between the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), co-hosted a workshop in Lima, Peru, with the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism (MINCETUR). The event focused on analytical tools for regulatory decision-making and regulatory impact assessment (RIA), among other related topics.

Why We Need to Measure Regulation

From: RegBlog | Penn Program on Regulation


How much should governments regulate? Economists attach huge significance to this question because the difference between rich and poor countries can be affected by variation in government quality, especially the extent to which the legal system protects property and encourages innovation and investment. But answering this question has been difficult due to limitations both in economic theory and available data. We have created a new dataset that can help overcome the limits in available data.


The backstory of Obama’s new climate regulations

From: Bloomberg via Chicago Tribune

By Cass Sunstein

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed, after White House review, an ozone regulation very similar to one that President Barack Obama personally blocked some three years earlier. On both the right and the left, and in news stories as well, the new proposal is being portrayed as an intensely political reversal: Unburdened by the prospect of reelection, the president is said to be following his instincts, appealing to his base and ignoring the complaints of the business community, to which he capitulated in 2011.