July 31, 2021
July 2021 at Policy Integrity
- Our Push to Ban "Drip Pricing"
- New Report: Managing the Risks of Toxic Chemicals
- Advancing Equity Through Regulatory Review
- Protecting Student Borrowers
- In the News: Trump-Era Missteps, the Mortality Cost of Carbon
- Ana Varela Varela to Join University of Amsterdam Faculty
- More from July 2021
Drip pricing is a strategy used to lure in consumers with deceptively low prices, only to reveal hidden fees on the cusp of purchase. Max Sarinsky’s opinion piece in The New York Times explains why the Federal Trade Commission should ban drip pricing, and our petition to the Commission lays out the details. Under our proposal, developed together with students in our Regulatory Policy Clinic, the Commission would use three distinct sources of authority to require that all sellers disclose the full price of a product or service upfront.
Toxic chemicals, some of which are linked to cancer and other public health threats, are pervasive in American society. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Environmental Protection Agency is charged with managing risks from such chemicals. Toward this end, the agency is currently revising Trump-era chemical risk evaluations it found inadequate and updating its process for setting risk management rules. To help make these processes as robust as possible, our new report identifies seven best practices the EPA should adopt to holistically assess—and weigh—the costs and benefits of risk management options, which would allow the agency to meet its statutory obligations and best enhance public welfare. Inside EPA highlighted our report and its findings.
The Biden administration has set ambitious environmental justice goals, but agencies must now figure out how to implement them in practice. This month, Policy Integrity submitted comments outlining procedures and methodologies that the Office of Management and Budget could endorse for agencies to assess whether their actions equitably support vulnerable communities. We advise OMB to instruct agencies to conduct regulatory impact analyses that more effectively account for demographics and risk factors, with a focus on environmental injustice. Our comments were featured in an Inside EPA piece on the topic.
When the Trump administration’s Department of Education replaced a 2016 regulation known as the Borrower Defense Rule, it made it much harder for student borrowers who have been defrauded by for-profit colleges to get their loans discharged. We filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit supporting a challenge to the replacement rule. Our brief, as well as another brief we filed in July 2020, focuses on serious flaws in the Trump administration’s economic analysis of the new policy.
The Trump administration worked aggressively to cut government benefits and weaken environmental protections—but very few of its rules have held up. Jack Lienke spoke with The Atlantic about regulatory procedures and why the Trump administration struggled to write rules that survived.
A new study in Nature Communications has introduced “the mortality cost of carbon”: lives lost as greenhouse gas emissions cause increasingly unsafe temperatures. The research, which finds that current models understate climate change-related mortality, calls for a significantly higher value for the social cost of carbon. The New York Times’ coverage of the study highlights related work by Policy Integrity and includes commentary from Richard Revesz.
This September, Policy Integrity Economic Fellow Ana Varela Varela will join the University of Amsterdam as an Assistant Professor at the Amsterdam School of Economics, where she will be teaching classes on natural resource economics. Varela Varela has been an Economic Fellow since September 2020 and has advanced Policy Integrity’s work on distributional impacts and environmental justice issues. She is the fourth Policy Integrity staff member to accept a tenure-track academic position in the last four years, joining Caroline Cecot (George Mason University, law, 2017), Jeffrey Shrader (Columbia University, economics, 2018), and Madison Condon (Boston University, law, 2020).