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Recent Projects

Viewing recent projects in Safety and Consumer Protection
  • Court Filings

    Brief on Department of Education’s Borrower Defense Rule

    May 11, 2018

    Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education has delayed implementation of the Borrower Defense Rule three times. This 2016 regulation was designed to help students who have been defrauded by for-profit educational institutions discharge their federal student loans. In our amicus brief to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, we argue that the delays must be vacated because the Department failed to provide a reasoned explanation for any of them.

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  • Policy Briefs

    Analyzing EPA’s Vehicle-Emissions Decisions

    May 1, 2018

    The Environmental Protection Agency sets greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks, and it periodically reevaluates these standards to make sure that car manufacturers can comply. In April 2018, EPA withdrew its previous determination that standards for model year 2022–2025 vehicles were appropriate and would improve public welfare, now saying that more recent information suggests that the standards are too stringent.

    Our policy brief shows that EPA’s claim—that new information indicates that the assumptions underlying the previous determination are unrealistic—is not supported by the evidence. In fact, the opposite is the case. Recent trends in fuel prices, vehicle sales, automaker compliance, and safety all indicate that the existing 2022–2025 standards can be met at low cost while delivering large benefits to consumers and the economy. EPA’s decision to withdraw the standards will instead cause regulatory uncertainty that will hurt the automotive sector while also harming the environment.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments on Provider Conscience Rule

    March 27, 2018

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently proposed a rule purporting to clarify the scope of statutory protections for medical providers who decline to participate in certain procedures, such as abortion or euthanasia, due to religious or moral objections. HHS issued a similar rule in 2008 but rescinded it in 2011 due to concern that the 2008 rule’s expansive definitions of statutory terms would lead providers to believe, incorrectly, that statutory protections extended not just to refusals to perform particular procedures, but also to refusals to care for particular types of patients, such as LGBTQ individuals. Our comments criticize HHS for reviving the 2008 rule’s expansive definitions without acknowledging its 2011 findings that such definitions would foster confusion and discrimination.

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  • Academic Articles/Working Papers

    Regulation and Distribution

    March 2, 2018

    Most regulations seek to improve social welfare, but maximizing overall welfare may not help or protect all groups evenly. Many economists suggest handling unequal regulatory effects through the tax system. But some harms—like the disproportionately high environmental pollution felt by poor and minority communities and loss of the employment base in rural communities due to shifts in the economy—cannot be addressed by monetary compensation alone.

    A new article by Richard Revesz offers a blueprint for establishing a standing, broadly constituted interagency body charged with addressing serious negative consequences of regulatory measures on particular groups. Highlighting past ineffective approaches to addressing distributional concerns in environmental justice and coal miner compensation, the article also gives examples of effective executive action for helping displaced coal miners and addressing the costs of climate change.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to Interior on Offshore Drilling Safety Requirements

    January 29, 2018

    The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) within the Department of the Interior is tasked with setting safety and environmental standards for offshore oil and gas production and exploration in federal waters. While BSEE updated its safety requirements in 2016, it now proposes to weaken and repeal some of these safety requirements in order to encourage more oil and gas production. In our comments on the proposed rule, we argue that the agency has failed to provide a reasoned explanation for repealing these requirements, which were part of a comprehensive update to safety regulations that had not been revised since 1988.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments to the Department of Labor on the Rescission of Tip Regulations

    January 5, 2018

    The Department of Labor recently proposed rescission of tip regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. We submitted comments explaining the Department’s failures, including to quantify important effects of the proposed rescission, to consider a range of realistic assumptions, or even to explain why the rescission’s purported benefits justify the total possible costs.

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  • Court Filings

    Policy Integrity Brief Cited in Housing Rule Decision

    December 23, 2017

    In a decision ordering the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement a fair housing rule that the Trump administration sought to delay, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia cited Policy Integrity’s amicus brief in the case. The Small Area Fair Market Rent rule, finalized under President Obama, seeks to give low-income families greater access to housing in higher-rent neighborhoods and break up areas of concentrated poverty. Our brief argued that, in suspending the rule’s implementation for two years, HUD violated principles of administrative law by disregarding economic impacts and failing to seek public comment. Judge Howell found that HUD’s decision to delay the rule exceeded the agency’s legal authority and that the reasons it gave for doing so were arbitrary and capricious. She ordered HUD to implement the rule by January 1, 2018.

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  • Court Filings

    Briefs and Comments on Department of Education’s Borrower Defense Rule

    December 22, 2017

    Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education has twice delayed implementation of the Borrower Defense Rule, a 2016 regulation designed to help students who have been defrauded by for-profit educational institutions discharge their federal student loans. In our amicus brief supporting borrower and state challenges to the delay, we argue that the Department violated the Administrative Procedure Act by arbitrarily disregarding the harms that the delays impose on student borrowers. We also submitted a comment letter to the agency regarding the second delay.

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  • News

    ACUS Adopts Recommendations on Marketable Permits

    December 14, 2017

    The Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), an independent federal agency that recommends improvements to government processes and procedures, recently approved a set of recommendations from Policy Integrity’s Jason Schwartz concerning marketable permits. Marketable permits, in the appropriate context, are a powerful tool for achieving policy objectives more efficiently, by letting market participants buy and sell compliance obligations. But like all markets, permit markets require proper oversight to prevent market manipulation. The new recommendations adopted by ACUS provide agencies with best practices on structuring and overseeing marketable permit programs.

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  • Public Comments

    Comments on Religious Exemption Rule and Contraception

    December 5, 2017

    Under the Affordable Care Act, federal guidance requires most health insurance plans to cover contraceptive services. Previously only houses of worship and their “integrated auxiliaries” were exempt from this requirement, but a group of agencies recently issued a joint rule expanding this exemption to nonprofits, higher education institutions, closely held for-profit corporations, and publicly traded for-profit corporations with religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage. Our comments argue that the agencies’ cost-benefit analysis for expanding the exemption is unreasonable.

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