Past Seminar

The Real Outcomes of Federal Environmental Regulations: Lessons from the Performance Data

Oct 21, 2015 Resources for the Future, 1616 P Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036

About the Event

Before federal environmental regulations are issued, they are subject to extensive analysis to estimate the costs, benefits, and other outcomes. However, remarkably little is known about the actual performance of such regulations after the final rules are announced. For instance:

  • Do they achieve substantial gains?
  • If so, how do the realized gains compare with the anticipated gains?
  • Are the realized costs in line with the expected costs?

Experts at this forum will present the results of RFF’s Regulatory Performance Initiative, a multi-year effort to analyze the actual impacts of a series of regulations issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy, Department of the Interior (DOI), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The results contain valuable lessons for the development of future regulations, especially related to the following:

  • use of market-based instruments;
  • analysis of new, unproven technologies;
  • possible use of “stress tests” for certain types of regulations;
  • coordination of federal and state activities; and
  • approaches to carrying out future retrospective regulatory analyses.

Reception to follow.

Note: This event will not be webcast contrary to the notice at the top of the page.



  • Richard D. Morgenstern, Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future
  • Margaret Taylor, Engineering Research Associate, Stanford University’s Precourt Energy Efficiency Center
  • Aaron Smith, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis
  • Wayne Gray, Professor of Economics, Clark University
  • Maureen L. Cropper, Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future; Distinguished University Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, University of Maryland
  • Randall Lutter, Visiting Fellow, Resources for the Future; Senior Lecturer, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virginia
  • Erik J. Nelson, Assistant Professor of Economics, Bowdoin College
  • Arthur G. Fraas, Visiting Fellow, Resources for the Future
  • Richard Schmalensee, Howard W. Johnson Professor and Dean Emeritus, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; chairman of RFF’s Board of Directors
  • Albert McGartland, Director, National Center for Environmental Economics, US Environmental Protection Agency
  • David Hawkins, Director, Climate Center, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Cary Coglianese, Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science; Director, Penn Program on Regulation, University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Susan Dudley, Director, Regulatory Studies Center and Distinguished Professor of Practice, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, George Washington University