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Recent Projects

  • Court Filings

    Court Vacates Delays of Department of Education’s Borrower Defense Rule

    September 17, 2018

    A United States District Judge recently ruled that the Department of Education’s repeated delays of the Borrower Defense Rule were illegal. We submitted an amicus brief in this case. This 2016 regulation was designed to help students who have been defrauded by for-profit educational institutions discharge their federal student loans. Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education delayed implementation of the Borrower Defense Rule three times, prompting a legal challenge.

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  • News

    Cost of Carbon Website Relaunched

    September 13, 2018

    Costofcarbon.org is now home to our ongoing work on the social cost of carbon (SCC) in U.S. state policy. The domain, which housed SCC-focused research until 2015, has been renovated and refocused to reflect the most important and relevant developments in the application of the SCC in decisionmaking. It includes an easy-to-navigate version of our FAQ Guide for state policymakers, information on state-specific use of the SCC, helpful resources, and more. Our hope is to bring attention to the ways that the SCC continues to be a critical tool used by policymakers in a number of areas, from electricity rate design, to cap-and-trade programs, to fossil fuel royalty rates. A diverse array of stakeholders can benefit from the site’s information and we invite feedback from regulators, partners, and the public on new proceedings that make use of the SCC or matters in which the SCC might be applicable.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments on New York State Energy Storage Roadmap

    September 10, 2018

    In June 2018, the New York State Department of Public Service and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority released the New York State Energy Storage Roadmap, outlining a series of recommended approaches to achieve Governor Cuomo’s statewide energy storage target of 1,500 MW by 2025. Our comments, based on our Managing the Future of Energy Storage report, generally support the overall approach to reward energy storage systems for all the values they can bring to the electric system, to allow dual participation in both wholesale and retail electricity markets, and to improve price signals to maximize the benefits of energy storage systems.

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  • Reports

    No Turning Back

    August 27, 2018

    For 50 years, California has enjoyed unique authority to regulate air pollution from newly manufactured motor vehicles. While the Clean Air Act preempts all other states from setting their own vehicle emission standards, California can request a waiver to do so if it determines that its standards are at least as protective of public health and welfare as federal standards issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). Once a waiver is granted, other states can adopt California’s more stringent vehicle emissions standards as their own.

    Since the waiver provision was enacted in 1967, EPA has granted more than 50 waivers for California, fully denied only one (a decision it subsequently reversed), and revoked zero. EPA has now proposed to withdraw the waiver California received in 2013 to set its own greenhouse gas emission standards, in conjunction with a weakening of federal greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles in model years 2021 through 2026.

    Because a waiver withdrawal would be entirely unprecedented, neither courts nor legal scholars have previously had cause to discuss the circumstances, if any, under which a waiver might permissibly be withdrawn. This report analyzes whether EPA possesses revocation authority and, assuming it exists at all, when and how such authority may be exercised.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to EPA on Weakening the Chemical Disaster Rule

    August 23, 2018

    In May 2018, EPA proposed to repeal significant portions of the Chemical Disaster Rule, a rule that would have improved safety procedures at chemical plants. In response, we submitted comments highlighting the ways in which this proposed deregulatory action is arbitrary and capricious

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  • Academic Articles/Working Papers

    Congress and the Executive

    August 15, 2018

    Critics of the administrative state have been urging Congress to rein in regulatory action, claiming that regulations created by executive agencies are undesirable as a matter of policy and are in violation of constitutional principles. In a troubling development, the Trump Administration has also turned away from cost-benefit analysis in order to carry out its anti-regulatory agenda, disregarding an established bipartisan consensus that stretched back several decades.

    This article argues that this anti-regulatory position is unwarranted. These executive regulatory actions produced large net benefits to the American people, were carried out pursuant to authority delegated by Congress, and were reviewed by the courts. By contrast, more robust action by Congress, as long as Congress continues to exhibit its current gridlock on important policy issues like climate change, is unlikely to be beneficial.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to EPA on Increasing Transparency in Cost-Benefit Analysis

    August 13, 2018

    Claiming an unsubstantiated need to improve consistency and transparency in its economic analyses, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering revisions to how it weighs costs and benefits in rulemakings. In our comments to EPA, we argue that this proposal is searching for a problem that does not exist. In implying that the agency’s past analyses have somehow inappropriately considered costs and benefits, EPA relies on vague or false assumptions and misleading examples. In fact, through 2016, EPA’s past analyses of regulatory costs and benefits were among the most thorough, consistent, and transparent regulatory impact analyses conducted in the federal government and had justified some of the most net beneficial rules in the history of federal regulation.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to FERC on a Natural Gas Project EIS

    August 13, 2018

    We recently submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on a natural gas processing and storage facility and marine export terminal in Louisiana, the Calcasieu Pass Project. While the DEIS quantifies the tons of greenhouse gas emissions related to this project—almost 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year from operations, plus hundreds of thousands of tons per year during construction—FERC fails to apply the social cost of greenhouse gas metric to fully account for the climate effects of these emissions. Once again, FERC resorts to flawed arguments used in other inadequate NEPA reviews to implicitly justify why the Commission chose not to use the social cost of greenhouse gases metric for the Calcasieu project. Our comments provide a detailed rejection of FERC’s arbitrary and misleading rationale for failing to use the social cost of greenhouse gases, and offer additional guidance on how to monetize climate effects consistent with the currently best available science and economics.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to EPA and Army Corp on Supplemental Notice for Clean Water Rule

    August 10, 2018

    Following a Proposed Repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Rule, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corp of Engineers issued a Supplemental Notice in July 2018 regarding the Proposed Repeal. We previously submitted comments to the agencies on the Proposed Repeal explaining that the economic analysis accompanying that Proposed Repeal was fundamentally flawed. In this notice, the agencies state that they are “not relying” on that economic analysis.

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  • News

    Policy Integrity Article Cited in Suit Against Interior’s Royalty Policy Committee

    August 9, 2018

    A group of NGOS, led by the Western Organization of Resource Councils, recently filed a complaint in the District of Montana Court regarding Secretary of the Interior Zinke’s Royalty Policy Committee (RPC). The complaint argues that though the RPC should be acting transparently on behalf of American taxpayers, it is in fact working in secret to advance the interest of extractive industries. In the complaint, the petitioners cite a recent Harvard Environmental Law Review article by Policy Director, Jayni Foley Hein, Federal Lands and Fossil Fuels: Maximizing Social Welfare in Federal Energy Leasing, to help make their case.

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