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Recent Projects

  • Regulatory Antecedents and the Major Questions Doctrine Cover

    Regulatory Antecedents and the Major Questions Doctrine

    Working paper

    In recent years, federal courts have increasingly assessed the legality of regulatory action by considering its antecedents, or lack thereof, in prior agency actions. Yet as this article explains, federal agencies have insufficiently adapted to this increased judicial focus on regulatory antecedents. While significant agency rulemakings typically include extensive dockets with many different types of analysis, they have generally provided limited analysis of regulatory antecedents. This article suggests that agencies more extensively catalog regulatory antecedents at all stages of the rulemaking process, from drafting to promulgation.

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  • Advancing Energy Justice Conference Brief Cover

    Advancing Energy Justice Conference Brief

    Tools for Justice40 and Equitable Deep Decarbonization

    This brief summarizes some of the major points of discussion from our May 2022 conference, “Advancing Energy Justice: Tools for Justice40 and Equitable Deep Decarbonization.” The event brought together federal agency staff working to implement Justice40 with researchers to discuss how academic research can be more responsive to communities’ needs. This brief summarizes the varied views expressed by conference participants and is not intended to be a consensus or recommendation document.

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  • Policy Brief and Supplemental Comments on the FERC Transmission Planning Rule and the Major Questions Doctrine

    Together with Harvard’s Electricity Law Initiative, we prepared a policy brief and supplemental comments defending the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) proposed rule on transmission planning reform from arguments that the proposal would trigger the major questions doctrine. We review previous transmission planning regulations and orders by FERC to explain that the major questions doctrine does not apply because the proposed rule is neither unheralded nor transformative.

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  • Comments to EPA on Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund

    The Environmental Protection Agency recently solicited public input on how to implement the Inflation Reduction Act’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which provides $27 billion to support zero-emission technologies and other projects that reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of air pollution, including in low-income and disadvantaged communities. We recommended that EPA require funding applicants to submit cost-benefit analyses for their proposed projects and, where otherwise consistent with statutory requirements, use the results of such analyses to prioritize funding allocations. We further recommended that such analyses account for significant unquantified effects, include assessments of distributional impacts, and consider the project’s potential to increase (or reduce) resilience to climate change. Finally, we suggested that, in tracking the success of the program, EPA identify climate resilience as a relevant program outcome.

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  • 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.

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  • Enacting the  “Polluter Pays” Principle Cover

    Enacting the “Polluter Pays” Principle

    New York’s Climate Change Superfund Act and Its Impact on Gasoline Prices

    This policy brief analyzes how New York State’s recently proposed Climate Change Superfund Act is most likely to affect consumer gasoline prices. The Act would require payments from fossil-fuel companies based on their historical contributions to current greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. The payments would be used to build green infrastructure to help the state adapt to climate change. The brief finds that the Act would likely have a negligible impact on current and near-term oil prices, while potentially lowering future energy prices in New York, including for transportation.

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  • 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.

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  • Do Non-Damaging Earthquakes Shake Mortgage Lenders' Risk Perception? Cover

    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.

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  • Comments on BSEE Well Control Rule

    Policy Integrity submitted comments to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), located within the Department of the Interior, in support of its proposed rule to strengthen regulations for well control and blowout preventer systems in the Outer Continental Shelf. This rule aims to reduce the risk of loss-of-well-control events, such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, by tightening well operator reporting requirements and equipment standards. Our comments encourage BSEE to strengthen the Proposed Rule's cost-benefit analysis by performing a break-even analysis and quantitatively assessing and/or qualitatively describing the full range of harms that result from well blowouts.

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  • Who Knows What: Information Barriers to Efficient DER Roll-Out Cover

    Who Knows What: Information Barriers to Efficient DER Roll-Out

    Published in International Association of Energy, Environment and Economy Journal

    While academic research on Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) has been mostly focused on first-best systems, we hypothesize that in reality multiple information barriers to efficient DER roll-out exist. We thus study the prevalence and importance of information issues arising in the context of deployment of DERs by reviewing the existing engineering and economic literature on distributed resources, analyzing DER-related regulatory proceedings, and surveying the relevant electricity sector stakeholders for their perception of information relevance and accessibility.

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