Economic analysis can be an advocate’s most powerful tool. When done correctly, the numbers often support strong government protections for the environment, public health, and consumers. Through academic research and advocacy, the Institute for Policy Integrity works to identify and support economically sound policies in these critical areas.
Policy Integrity seeks to improve government decisionmaking, encouraging a rational approach to environmental and regulatory policymaking that makes use of the best available economic tools. Cost-benefit analysis provides a tractable means of balancing regulatory goals and other social values when setting policy. Improving environmental quality is not a cost-free enterprise, and decisionmakers should aim to maximize the net benefits — benefits minus costs — delivered by policy.
With this in mind, Policy Integrity prioritizes cost minimization in policy design, advocating for flexible, market-based instruments in climate, energy, and regulatory policy. The institute also pushes for regulations that correct market failures due to externalities, including interstate externalities that are well-suited to federal regulation.
In the past, cost-benefit analysis and other economic tools have often been used in a biased fashion, leading to deregulation or watered down rules. During the Clinton Administration, I served on an EPA advisory panel charged with reforming how the agency conducted its economic analyses. One of the things I noticed most at our meetings were the empty chairs in the room. Industry was always present to push their view — often with the aid of talented lawyers and economists. But green groups were no-shows, failing to engage on key, winnable battles because they weren’t willing or able to use economics to make their case. Policy Integrity was founded to help address this problem, and has had a great deal of success working with partners in the advocacy community to show that smart government protections are often cost-benefit justified.
Since its founding, Policy Integrity has grown rapidly, gaining support from some of the world’s most prestigious foundations and partnering with dozens of prominent advocacy groups, helping them use economic arguments to protect the public interest. I hope you’ll follow our work and consider joining our effort.