The Corner

Regulatory Costs and Benefits

Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported “A new White House study concludes that environmental regulations are well worth the costs they impose on industry and consumers, resulting in significant public health improvements and other benefits to society.” TAPped jumped on the story to proclaim “the study contradicts an entire corpus of industry-funded, conservative and libertarian propaganda about the overwhelming and burdensome costs of environmental and workplace regulation.” True to form, TAPped made a sweeping pronouncement without checking the facts. Had the post’s author actually read the report in question, they wouldh ave realized that a) the study did not examine environmental regulations generally, just rules classified as major regulations promulgated in the last ten years; b) the report never suggests environmental regulations do not impose substantial costs on business and consumers, but instead concludes that (for some of the rules in question) the health and social benefits are simply greater than such costs; c) the large net benefits are largely due to a handful of rules that were particularly net beneficial; and therefore d) the report is not making a generalizable finding about the costs and benefits of environmental regulation. Alas, TAPped has never let facts get in the way of a good story.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.


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Illegal leaks of classified information should be treated as a serious offense. But they would be easier to prevent if less information were classified.