Comments to EPA on Proposed Rule to Strengthen Power Plant Effluent Guidelines
In March, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to strengthen its power plant effluent guidelines by tightening discharge requirements for flue gas desulfurization wastewater, bottom ash transport water, and combustion residual leachate resulting from steam electricity generation. In our comment letter, we offer several recommendations for EPA to strengthen its consideration of regulatory benefits.
Amicus Brief on Major Questions Doctrine in Loan Settlement Case
We filed an amicus brief in a Ninth Circuit loan settlement case in support of neither party to address the proper application of the major questions doctrine. Our brief takes no position on whether the major questions doctrine ultimately applies to the case, nor does it take a position on how the Ninth Circuit should ultimately decide the case. It does explain that, although the Supreme Court’s major questions precedents often reference the economic significance of an agency’s action, none of the Supreme Court’s precedents, including West Virginia, turns on this factor.
Comments to the CPSC on Chronic Hazards Associated with Gas Ranges and Proposed Solutions
In March 2023, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a Request for Information on Chronic Hazards Associated with Gas Ranges and Proposed Solutions. We submitted comments which highlighted the major findings from our report. We explained how the CPSC could regulate gas ranges and recommened possible futher actions.
Comments to FTC on Unfair or Deceptive Fees Trade Regulation
On October 20 2022, the FTC voted to grant the Institute for Policy Integrity’s petition for rulemaking and issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Unfair or Deceptive Fees Trade Regulation Rule. Commissioner Christine S. Wilson issued a dissenting statement in which she raised major questions doctrine concerns and asked for precedent that supports FTC's authority to promulgate this rule. We submitted a letter responding to Commissioner Wilson’s concern and providing regulatory antecedents supporting the FTC’s authority. In this letter, Policy Integrity shows that FTC's rule would not be unheralded nor represent a transformative change in the agency's authority, and therefore, it would not implicate the major questions doctrine.
Comments to Department of Transportation on Airline Ticket Refunds
DOT recently proposed a rule that would require airlines to issue refunds or non-expiring vouchers to consumers whose flights are significantly delayed or canceled or who decide not to travel for certain health reasons. Policy Integrity submitted comments in support of the proposal, and made recommendations to clarify and strengthen the final rule.
Comments to FTC on Commercial Surveillance and Data Security
In August, the Federal Trade Commission released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comment on avenues to regulate commercial surveillance and data security practices that harm consumers. Policy Integrity submitted comments recommending that the FTC regulate “immortal accounts,” a practice by which entities make it difficult or impossible to delete a consumer account in order to retain and profit from the user’s data and continue charging subscriptions. Our comments were based on a report that we recently published establishing the Commission’s authority to regulate this pervasive practice.
Do Non-Damaging Earthquakes Shake Mortgage Lenders’ Risk Perception?
Working paper in Journal of Environmental Economics and Management
This study examines how banks respond to earthquakes that convey seismic risk salience but do not cause damage, i.e., noticeable non-damaging earthquakes (NNDEs). Using evidence from California, we find loans more likely to be denied or sold after increased NNDEs. Banks with fewer assets, more diversified branching markets, or stronger sales capability relied more on securitization to transfer the perceived seismic risk. We show evidence that banks likely learned about the NNDEs through personal experience and local news. The effects of NNDEs persisted up to three years. Meanwhile, the NNDEs only caused moderate and temporary collateral devaluation but did not increase the observable default risk. Thus, banks' responses most likely resulted from the increased risk salience of future damaging earthquakes during the mortgage term. Our findings call for reevaluations of the heuristics in banks' risk-perception updating and have implications for designing more efficient disaster risk-sharing mechanisms in the financial market.
Comments on HHS Streamlining Rule
Policy Integrity submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in support of its proposed rule to streamline applications and eligibility determinations for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Basic Health Program. Our comments encourage CMS to strengthen the Proposed Rule's cost-benefit analysis by describing the many health and economic benefits that result from increased access to healthcare and engaging in a more robust distributional analysis.
The Role of Information in Distributed Energy Resource Deployment and Policy
While appropriate compensation for DERs has received considerable attention in DER policy discussions, one important dimension has received less attention: informational gaps and asymmetries. In particular, key information about distribution networks, energy consumption, and marginal emission rates is often either entirely lacking or readily available only to some parties. Such information disparities can impede effective policymaking. To overcome the inefficiencies information asymmetry creates, regulators must carefully tailor disclosure mandates and incentives for utilities, as these actors often have little incentive to go beyond the letter of the law in data disclosure.
Joint SC-GHG Comments on DOE Standards for Consumer Furnaces
Together with partner groups, we submitted joint comments to the Department of Energy (DOE) on its proposed rule to strengthen energy conservation standards for consumer furnaces. Our comments applaud the agency for appropriately applying the social cost of greenhouse gases to estimate the climate benefits of the proposed standards, even though the standards would be cost-benefit justified without considering any climate benefits. We also expand upon DOE's justifications for adopting a global damages valuation and for the range of discount rates it applies to climate effects.
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