As the new year arrives, RegBlog would like to reflect on the many important regulatory developments that occurred in the United States and around the world during 2013. We also want to recognize some of the excellent work we had the privilege to feature on RegBlog this past year. Over three days this week, we will present the top 50 RegBlog posts of the past twelve months, based on the number of page views for the work appearing in each of our opinion, news, and analysis sections.
Today we feature, in alphabetical order by author, the top Opinion stories from 2013.
Alberto Alemanno (HEC Paris) | March 5
Although the current horse meat scandal was initially depicted as an isolated instance of fraud and mislabeling generated by a single source of contamination, it is progressively escalating into a much broader food safety crisis. This in turn reveals the existence of a more generalized set of misleading labeling practices that could escape the EU’s supposedly strict food regulatory regime.
Cary Coglianese (University of Pennsylvania) | January 21
In taking the oath of office on his second Inauguration Day, President Obama pledged himself yet again to “faithfully execute” his powers as President. These powers, though, will be deployed differently in his second term than in his first. Over the next four years, expect Obama to become what political scientist Richard Nathan has called an “Administrative President.”
Cary Coglianese (University of Pennsylvania) | April 8
Does regulation create jobs or kill them? Although this question has gained extraordinary political salience over the last several years, as the United States has experienced sustained levels of high unemployment, the empirical research evidence needed to answer the question remains quite limited.
Cary Coglianese (University of Pennsylvania) | June 10
It’s a truism that good decision makers should look before they leap. But good decision makers should also look back after they leap, to see how far they moved and in what direction. Only by looking back can they know if they are on course and whether they need to leap again.
Adam Finkel (University of Pennsylvania) | April 4
For many of the federal agencies that promulgate and enforce regulations to protect public health, safety, and the environment, the era of “big government” never even began. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a prime example: the agency employs about 2,000 inspectors, who are collectively able to visit roughly 100,000 establishments each year to look for unsafe and unhealthy conditions in the workplace.
Fiona Haines (University of Melbourne) | March 11
Regulation inhabits contested political terrain. Politicians generate regulations in response to crises ranging from industrial disasters to financial collapses. Business rails against bureaucratic red tape while critics of government bemoan the lost economic opportunities regulation causes. Government responds with multiple attempts to reduce, clarify, or streamline regulatory demands on business.
Lisa Heinzerling (Georgetown University) | April 29
In his revealing new book about his nearly four years as President Barack Obama’s “regulatory czar,” Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein describes a striking moment: “After I had been in the job for a few years, a Cabinet member showed up at my office and told my chief of staff, ‘I work for Cass Sunstein.’ Of course that wasn’t true – but still.”
Bruce Levinson (The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness) | May 21
The most powerful, influential, and creative people in any society are its entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial endeavors span every field of human enterprise: commerce, academia, the arts, and, yes, even the career civil service.
Michael A. Livermore (University of Virginia) | May 13
Cost-benefit analysis, while embraced by both political parties over the course of the past three decades, is still feared by many progressives in the United States. But as environmental concerns have spread around the world, this tool is lighting a path in many developing countries toward a new generation of environmental policies to protect public health, climate stability, and natural resources.
Noga Morag-Levine (Michigan State University) | September 23
Transatlantic conflicts over the regulation of environmental and health and safety threats—including climate change, chemicals, and food safety concerns—have repeatedly revolved around the international status and legitimacy of the precautionary principle, which pertains to regulation of scientifically uncertain harms.
Jennifer Nash (Harvard University) | July 16
Two Bangladeshi garment factory tragedies—a devastating fire at Tarzeen Fashions Limited that killed 112 workers last November, and the collapse of Rana Plaza that killed 1,127 workers earlier this year—have prompted two private sector initiatives to improve safety in Bangladeshi plants.
Nancy A. Nord (Former CPSC Commissioner) & Nathan S. Cardon (Former CPSC Senior Counsel) | February 6
When it comes to consumer product safety, information is key. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has a unique role in dispersing product safety information, but it can only give good information if it gets good information. Both consumers and companies expect that the CPSC will release good—that is, fair and accurate—safety information about specific products.
Barak Orbach (University of Arizona) | June 25
Politicians and commentators often depict government failure as some sort of modern epidemic burdening society. But equally often the concept of “government failure” remains inadequately defined.
Paul Rose (Ohio State University) & Christopher Walker (Ohio State University) | August 19
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has raised the stakes for financial regulation by requiring more than twenty federal agencies to promulgate nearly 400 new rules and regulations. Now more than ever, financial regulators need to take bold steps to improve the quality of the cost-benefit analysis in their rulemaking.
Adam C. Schlosser (U.S. Chamber of Commerce) & Reeve T. Bull (ACUS) | August 27
After more than a year of courtship, the United States and European Union took the first steps towards making their longstanding trade relationship official by kicking off in July the first round of negotiations for the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.
Stuart Shapiro (Rutgers University) | April 15
In a recent critique of the Obama Administration’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Lisa Heinzerling argues that a lack of transparency at OIRA, the federal office that reviews regulations, has allowed the office to pursue an anti-regulatory agenda, stifling regulations designed to protect public health.
Stuart Shapiro (Rutgers University) & Debra Borie-Holtz (Rutgers University) | October 21
Congress is currently considering more than a dozen regulatory reform bills that would modify the procedures by which executive branch agencies issue new regulations. Supporters of these bills hope they will increase the economic efficiency of regulations and bring more accountability to the regulatory process.
Jenna Shweitzer (RegBlog) | September 19
The majority of chemicals in use today have not been screened for safety or regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), making the Act considered to be largely ineffective. The proposed Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) would revamp and modernize TSCA by requiring all existing and new chemicals to be screened for safety and then regulated if necessary.
Abigail Slater (Federal Trade Commission Attorney) | July 8
The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an opinion in late May – on appeal from a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proceeding – that renews debate over what role antitrust law should play in FCC regulation. The case arose from a dispute between the Tennis Channel and the major cable operator, Comcast.
Kevin M. Stack (Vanderbilt University) | February 11
We live in an era of regulation, but our jurisprudence has fallen behind. Despite the central place that regulations occupy in our law, their interpretation has garnered little focused consideration, especially in comparison to the lavish attention devoted to statutory interpretation.
Featuring Separate Essays by Peter Strauss (Columbia University), Nina Mendelson (University of Michigan), and Emily Bremer (ACUS) | July 1-2
Most people think that regulation comes from government: Congress makes law and the President and executive branch implement it. Of course, when authorized by Congress, federal regulatory agencies also make binding rules.
Featuring Separate Essays by Peter Strauss (Columbia University) and Sean Croston (FTC), with a news story by Jessica Bassett (RegBlog) | Oct 14-16
RegBlog is pleased to publish this week’s series facilitating further debate over the practice of federal agencies incorporating private standards into binding government regulations. Our previous series, Regulating by Reference, chronicled the surprising reality that “some legally binding rules also originate within private organizations – not the government.”
Cass Sunstein (Harvard University & Former OIRA Administrator) | September 9
I’m going to tell you a bit about the real world of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). And I’m just going to tell you facts. But it occurred to me as I looked over the remarks I had prepared that they have no ideas in them, so here are some things that are, if not ideas, at least quasi-ideas.
Ralph S. Tyler (Venable LLP) | August 14
A large gap in the regulatory system is the absence of data and analysis to determine whether agency rules accomplish their intended purposes. Specifically, far too little is known about whether the problem targeted by a particular rule is solved or reduced because of the rule.
John Walke (Natural Resources Defense Council) | May 20
Congressional Republicans have attacked the Obama administration by accusing federal agencies of engaging in collusive litigation practices with public interest groups (pejoratively dubbed “sue-and-settle”). Republicans in both the 112th and 113th Congress have introduced legislation that purports to address this practice.