The Trump Administration’s Attacks on Regulatory Benefits

14 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2020 Last revised: 6 Nov 2020

Date Written: May 18, 2020


For the last four decades, benefit-cost analysis has been a mainstay of the U.S. federal regulatory process and, under Executive Orders in effect since 1981, such analysis must generally be used to justify significant federal regulations. While administrations of different parties have occasionally differed on the methodologies used to assess costs or benefits, these disagreements operated within the bounds of approaches that are supported by the economic and scientific literatures. In contrast, the Trump administration has been operating outside such bounds. In particular, as I discuss in this article, it has sought to justify important deregulatory measures by focusing on cost savings, but ignoring the resulting foregone benefits; placing substantial roadblocks in the way of regulatory agencies’ ability to rely on epidemiological studies; promoting discredited threshold models, under which significant air pollutants are assumed to have no adverse effects below a certain level; calling co-benefits into question; downplaying climate change damages; and counting transfer payments in inappropriate ways. I argue that these moves significantly threaten the health and safety of Americans.

Keywords: benefit-cost analysis, regulatory policy, deregulation, environmental policy, energy policy, public health and safety

JEL Classification: K, K23, K32, Q30, Q38, Q41, Q48, Q51, Q58

Suggested Citation

Revesz, Richard L., The Trump Administration’s Attacks on Regulatory Benefits (May 18, 2020). Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 20-32, NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 20-48, Available at SSRN:

Richard L. Revesz (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

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New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
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