Good Regulation and Public Policies Evaluation: selected literature
Cecott C. (2019)
Deregulatory Cost-Benefit Analysis and Regulatory Stability
Cost-benefit analysis (“CBA”) has faced significant opposition during most of its tenure as an influential agency decisionmaking tool. As advancements have been made in CBA practice, especially in more complete monetization of relevant effects, CBA has been gaining acceptance as an essential part of reasoned agency decisionmaking. When carefully conducted, CBA promotes transparency and accountability, efficient and predictable policies, and targeted retrospective review. This Article highlights an underappreciated additional effect of extensive use of CBA to support agency rulemaking: reasonable regulatory stability. In particular, a regulation based on a wellsupported CBA is more difficult to modify for at least two reasons. The first reason relates to judicial review. Courts take a “hard look” at agency findings of fact, which are summarized in a CBA, and they require justifications when an agency changes course in ways that contradict its previous factfinding. A prior CBA provides a powerful reference point; any updated CBA supporting a new course of action will naturally be compared against the prior CBA, and the agency will need to explain any changes in CBA inputs, assumptions, and methodology. The second reason relates to the nature of CBA. By focusing on the incremental costs and benefits of a proposed change, CBA can make it difficult for an agency to justify changing course, especially when stakeholders have already relied on the prior policy. Together, these forces constrain the range of changes that agencies could rationally support. CBA thus promotes regulatory stability around transparent and increasingly efficient policies. But, admittedly, this CBA-based stabilizing influence gives rise to several objections. This Article responds to, among others, concerns about democratic accountability and, most importantly, the use of alternative methods of policy modification. Overall, the Article concludes that CBA and judicial review of CBA play a desirable role in stabilizing regulatory policy across presidential administrations.
Good Regulation and Public Policies Evaluation: selected literature
Coglianese C., Walters D (2019)
Whither the Regulatory 'War on Coal'? Scapegoats, Saviors, and Stock Market Reactions
Complaints about excessive economic burdens associated with regulation abound in contemporary political and legal rhetoric. In recent years, perhaps nowhere have these complaints been heard as loudly as in the context of regulations targeting the use of coal as an energy source, as production levels in the coal industry dropped nearly by half between 2008 and 2016. The coal industry and its political supporters, including the President of the United States, have argued that a suite of air pollution regulations imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the Obama Administration seriously undermined coal companies’ bottom lines, presenting an existential threat to the industry. Under the Trump Administration, industry players have lobbied hard for (and sometimes received) financial subsidies and regulatory changes, with the President seemingly all-too-happy to play the role of the industry’s savior. Stepping back, we ask whether regulations have really led to the decline in demand for coal and how much the coal industry can actually expect to gain from the de-regulatory policies of the current Administration. To address these questions, we statistically analyze stock market reactions to important events in what critics called the regulatory “war on coal” during the Obama Administration. Using an event-study framework that measures abnormal market activity in the immediate wake of these events, we are able to isolate any potential impact of regulation above and beyond market factors, such as secular trends in natural gas prices and market performance as a whole. Surprisingly, we find no systemic evidence consistent with a regulatory “war on coal” based on investor assessments of the industry’s financial prospects, even though our methods do find evidence of stock market reactions to other events, such as bankruptcies of other companies. The very actors with financial stakes in understanding the impact of regulation on the coal industry never bought into the regulatory “war on coal” narrative. Our findings are consistent with other evidence about the effects of regulation and with an underlying political economy of regulatory scapegoating, according to which actors in a declining industry prefer to blame regulation rather than competitive factors for the decline. By recognizing the pervasive incentives for scapegoating and cheap talk by politicians seeking to be saviors, we explain the mismatch between the evidence and the rhetoric of the “war on coal,” and along the way we also show how important it is for courts, government officials, and the public to demand careful analysis and evidence before agencies make regulatory decisions.
EU: selected document
European Commission (2019)
Study supporting the interim evaluation of the innovation principle
The European Commission has recognised the importance of a more innovation-oriented EU acquis, gradually exploring the ways in which EU rules can support innovation. The ‘innovation principle’ was introduced to ensure that whenever policy is developed, the impact on innovation is fully assessed. However, as further discussed in this Study, the exact contours of the innovation principle have been shaped very gradually within the context of the EU better regulation agenda: originally advocated by industry in the context of the precautionary principle, the innovation principle has gradually been given a more articulate and consistent role, which aims at complementing the precautionary principle by increasing the salience of impacts on innovation during all phases of the policy cycle. This Study presents an evaluation of the current implementation of the innovation principle, limited to two of its three components, i.e. the Research and Innovation Tool included in the Better Regulation Toolbox, and the innovation deals. As a preliminary caveat, it is important to recall that the implementation of the innovation principle is still in its infancy, and thus the Study only represents a very early assessment of the extent to which the innovation principle is being correctly implemented, and whether changes would be required to make the principle more effective and useful in the context of the EU better regulation agenda. The main finding is that the innovation principle has the potential to contribute to the quality and future-proof nature of EU policy, but that significant changes and effort will be needed for this potential to fully materialise. The most evident areas for improvement are related to the lack of a clear legal basis, the lack of a widely acknowledged definition, the lack of awareness among EU officials and stakeholders, and the lack of adequate skills among those that are called to implement the innovation principle. As a result of these problems, the impact of the innovation principle on the innovation-friendliness of the EU acquis has been limited so far. The Commission should clarify in official documents that the Innovation principle does not entail a de-regulatory approach, and is not incompatible with the precautionary principle: this would also help to have the principle fully recognised and endorsed by all EU institutions, as well as by civil society, often concerned with the possible anti-regulatory narrative around the innovation principle in stakeholder discussions. Apart from clarifications, and further dissemination and training, major improvements are possible in the near future, especially if the innovation principle is brought fully in line with the evolving data-driven nature of digital innovation and provides more guidance to the Commission on how to design experimental regulation, including inter alia so-called ‘regulatory sandboxes’. Finally, the Commission should ensure that the innovation principle is given prominence with the transition to the Horizon Europe programme, in particular due to the anticipated launch of ‘missions’ in key domains.