Executive Review of Regulation in Obama's Second Term

by Matthew Freeman

CPR Member Scholar David Driesen of Syracuse University has an op-ed in the January 28 Syracuse Post-Standard making the case that the President should reinvigorate his regulatory agenda, in part by diminishing the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs' power to stifle regulations. He puts the argument in the context of the pressing need for action on climate change, writing:

Obama should put an end to obstructionist OIRA review in light of the urgency of climate disruption and the failures this review has led to. Specifically, he should issue an executive order requiring prompt regulation of major sources of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, including a schedule for prompt rulemaking. This order should direct OIRA to work to speed and strengthen environmental, health and safety standards. He should also abolish OIRA's authority to review minor standards, since such reviews waste scarce government resources excessively analyzing cheap measures to protect people from important threats.

Finally, he should order OIRA to stop demanding cost-benefit analysis of proposed environmental, health and safety protections. We cannot reliably compare the value of human life or a preserved ecosystem to the costs of regulation. Key uncertainties often make quantification of the number of deaths and illnesses or the magnitude of ecological destruction addressed through environmental standards impossible....

We barely made it through the first round of the 'fiscal cliff battle,' but we will still face an ongoing climate crisis unless Obama abandons business-as-usual in favor of doing everything we feasibly can do to reduce the coming damage. He can do a lot with the stroke of a pen, perhaps even enough to persuade some House Republicans to come to the table to help shape future environmental policy.

Read the full article, here.



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