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 Analysis stories from 2013.
Maxwell Blum | January 9
In 2010, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, causing the death of eleven workers and the worst oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. That a calamity of such magnitude could occur in an industry already subject to regulatory oversight surprised many observers and prompted tough questions about the efficacy of the regulations that failed to prevent it.
Margot Campbell | January 14
It may come as no surprise that crisis-driven situations are prone to the adoption of ineffective rules. Seeking to mitigate economic harm and ease public concern in the face of a crisis, legislators often feel compelled to pass new laws before they have collected adequate information about the true causes of the crisis.
Kara Cheever | July 24
Fracking, more formally known as hydraulic fracturing, has created a natural gas boom and revitalized some rural economies – but not without raising environmental concerns. The advanced drilling technique designed to release shale gas appears to alter the mineral composition of local environments and may increase the likelihood of earthquakes and water contamination in communities near drilling sites.
Kara Cheever | August 13
Orphan diseases afflict over 25 million Americans. An orphan disease is an illness that affects a relatively small part of the population, specifically fewer than 200,000 Americans. Unfortunately, there are many such orphan diseases, including cystic fibrosis, Wilson’s disease, and Crohn’s disease.
Lauren-Kelly Devine | September 17
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, provide a water vapor-powered alternative to traditional smoking that may help users drop the unhealthy habit. But, in light of the recent finding that use among middle and high school students is rapidly increasing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated that a new regulatory regime to manage these novel products more effectively is on the horizon.
Eric Lorber | April 3
Some politicians, business leaders, and scholars have suggested that an increase in federal regulation during President Obama’s first term, most evident in the new health care and financial regulation laws, dampened economic growth and job creation. However, new academic research suggests that these claims lack statistical support.
Eric Lorber | April 24
When federal agencies impose regulations on businesses, who decides what those rules actually mean? In a recent decision, the Supreme Court said that agencies do. In Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the Court examined whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reasonably interpreted its regulations when concluding that permits were not required under the Clean Water Act to discharge storm water runoff from logging operations.
Eric Lorber | June 27
In recent years, a number of states have raised speed limits on highways. Observers suggest that other states will likely follow suit, as toll roads with high speed limits create revenue for states as federal highway diminishes.
Aimee Martin | January 10, 2013
Traditional regulatory oversight may have been just what the housing finance industry needed in the lead-up to the financial crisis in 2008. Yet instead of regulating housing finance through traditional command-and-control legislation, housing finance in the U.S. was primarily “regulated” at the time through the public provision of housing capital.
Aimee Martin | April 10
All debt collectors are not evil. At least, that is what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently emphasized in an annual report sent to Congress. In the report, CFPB points out that debt collection plays an essential role in consumer credit markets. By providing for recovery of unpaid debts and minimizing losses, creditors are able to expand the provision of credit and offer it at lower prices.
Bianca Nunes | April 2
A New York state trial court judge’s ruling last month to strike down the New York City Board of Health’s Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule seemed to be a stunning rebuke to Mayor Michael Bloomberg on one of his most ambitious initiatives. The Portion Cap Rule, dubbed “the New York City soda ban,” would have prohibited New York City restaurants, movie theaters, and other food service establishments from serving sugary drinks in sizes larger than sixteen fluid ounces.
RegBlog Staff | January 7 – 24
Eventsof the last several years have deeply shaken public confidence in the U.S. regulatory system. According to many observers, the financial crisis and the Gulf Coast oil spill would never have occurred but for lax regulatory oversight. Still others charge that the sluggish pace of the U.S. economic recovery stems in part from regulatory excesses, including the looming and uncertain new controls called for by the Dodd-Frank Act and the Affordable Care Act.
Christina Reichert | June 26
As the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) awaits a new Administrator, debate continues to rage over the virtues and vices of the OIRA review process. In recent papers, both critics and defenders of OIRA have renewed their arguments, just as President Obama’s pick to fill the vacancy to head OIRA is under consideration by the Senate.
Wistar Wilson | June 19
Every day, countless transactions take place online. With the click of a button, customers can purchase items from anywhere in the world without having to leave their homes. Services like Paypal have radically transformed the nature of modern-day trade, allowing customers and vendors to connect without face-to-face interactions.