Improving Regulatory Transparency Through Retrospective Analysis

How well do environmental regulations perform? Are environmental standards “job-killing regulations” that merit elimination? Does environmental policy strike a balance of reducing pollution without undermining economic growth? Thoughtful policy debates about the future of environmental regulation require rigorous, transparent evidence addressing these questions. Evaluating the performance of regulations—through retrospective analysis of their impacts, benefits, and costs—can play a critical role in informing these debates. Indeed, these analyses can illustrate whether fully-implemented regulations are making the whole of society better off. In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking soliciting suggestions on how to increase “the consistency and transparency in considering costs and benefits in the rulemaking process.” To its credit, EPA raises the topic of retrospective review of…

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