Regulatory Policy

Regulatory safeguards play a vital role in protecting us from hazards and ensuring that companies that pollute, make unsafe products, and create workplace hazards bear the cost of cleaning up their messes and preventing injuries and deaths. Still, the regulatory system is far from perfect: Rules take too long to develop; enforcement is often feeble; and political pressure from regulated industries has led to weak safeguards.

These systemic problems are made all the more severe by the determination of the Trump administration to undercut sensible safeguards across virtually all aspects of federal regulation. Moreover, the President and his team have taken aim at the the process by which such safeguards are developed, aiming to take a system already slanted in favor of industry profit at the expense of health, safety and the environment, and make it even less protective. For example, where critics of the use of cost-benefit analysis see a system that understates the value of safeguards and overstates the cost of implementing them -- making it difficult to adopt needed protections -- the Trump administration seeks simply to ignore benefits of safeguards, pretending they do not exist. The result is a regulatory system that fails to enforce landmark laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and more.

CPR exposes and opposes efforts by opponents of sensible safeguards to undermine the regulatory system, fighting back against knee-jerk opposition to environmental, health, and safety protections. Below, see what CPR Members Scholars and staff have had to say in reports, testimony, op-eds and more. Use the search box to narrow the list.

Applying Cost Benefit Analysis to Past Decisions

Applying Cost Benefit Analysis to Past Decisions, by Frank Ackerman, Lisa Heinzerling, and Rachel Massey. White Paper 401, July 2004.

Type: Reports (July 8, 2004)
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Author(s): Lisa Heinzerling, Frank Ackerman
Sophisticated Sabotage: The Intellectual Games Used to Subvert Responsible Regulation

Sophisticated Sabotage: The Intellectual Games Used to Subvert Responsible Regulation, by CPR's Thomas O. McGarity and Sidney Shapiro, and David Bollier is a searing look at the methods and tools used to subvert and defeat regulations designed to protect health, safety, and the environment. In clear, accessible terms, the authors describe how dubious risk assessment and economic models have come to dominate regulatory decision-making, and to stymie urgently needed protective regulations, thus putting Americans at serious risk from avoidable hazards. Topics include cost-benefit analysis, quantitative risk assessment, the monetization of intangible values, comparative risk assessment and cost-effectiveness analysis, and related sub-disciplines.

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Author(s): Sidney Shapiro, Thomas McGarity
Comments on the Department of Homeland Security's Procedures for Handling Critical Infrastructure Information (Interim Rule).

Rena Steinzor's May 2004 comments on the Department of Homeland Security's Procedures for Handling Critical Infrastructure Information (Interim Rule).

Type: Letters to Agencies (May 20, 2004)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Karen Sokol
Bush's Cost-Benefit View Carries a High Price

Bush's Cost-Benefit View Carries a High Price, op-ed by Frank Ackerman and Lisa Heinzerling

Type: Op-Eds (April 26, 2004)
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Author(s): Lisa Heinzerling, Frank Ackerman
Political Intervention: The White House Doctors Mercury Conclusions

Materials on the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site – buried deep inside hundreds of pages of internal documents – reveal the extent to which the White House was willing to override expert scientific conclusions to justify a weak proposal to control mercury emissions from power plants. Federal agencies are required to obtain approval for all major regulatory proposals from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (led by the president's regulatory czar John Graham) within the White House Office of Management and Budget. In flyspecking EPA's mercury proposal, OMB economists and White House officials systematically downplayed scientific conclusions that methyl-mercury exposure causes brain damage in children.

Type: Op-Eds (April 16, 2004)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Lisa Heinzerling
A Perfect Storm: Mercury and the Bush Administration

For the Bush administration, mercury contamination is the regulatory equivalent of the perfect storm. Four separate fields - science, law, economics, and justice - have combined to demand strict and timely controls on the intolerable hazards mercury poses for public health and the environment. While many expected the Bush administration to search for escape routes that favor its friends in the chemical and energy industries - which produce the lion's share of mercury - none were prepared for its headlong plunge into the tallest waves. Just as the doomed fishermen of the Andrea Gail sailed into the storm despite clear warnings, the administration is likewise proceeding with business as usual. This means no requirements for industrial plants to reduce pollution at the smokestack and no expectation that the oldest, dirtiest plants install modern pollution controls. Meanwhile, the clear and present danger posed by mercury is being ignored.

Type: Op-Eds (March 17, 2004)
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Author(s): Lisa Heinzerling, Rena Steinzor
Balancing Lives Against Lucre

Balancing Lives Against Lucre, op-ed by Frank Ackerman and Lisa Heinzerling

Type: Op-Eds (Feb. 25, 2004)
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Author(s): Frank Ackerman, Lisa Heinzerling
Robert R.M. Verchick's February 25, 2004, testimony on OMB's 2004 Draft report to Congress on regulation

Robert R.M. Verchick's February 25, 2004, testimony to the Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs on OMB's 2004 Draft report to Congress on the costs and benefits of regulation

Type: Legislative Testimony (Feb. 25, 2004)
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Author(s): Robert Verchick
Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

As absurd as it sounds to express the value of human lives, the environment, or conservation in dollars and cents, cost-benefit analysis requires it. Embraced by a growing number of politicians, economic analysts and conservative pundits as the most reasonable way to make decisions on proposed regulations, cost-benefit analysis attempts to convert all relevant factors into monetary terms. Written by economist CPR Member Scholars Frank Ackerman, economist at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, and Lisa Heinzerling, professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center, Priceless is a combative, no-holds-barred debunking of cost-benefit analysis and the derelict logic used to defend it.

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Author(s): Lisa Heinzerling, Frank Ackerman

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