Professor of Public Affairs, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin
President’s Council of Economic Advisors, 2016-17 Fellow, Property and Environment Research Center
Interviewer: David Spence, Interview date: 11/7/18
Key Terms: OIRA, EPA Cost-Benefit Analysis, Clean Power Plan
Cost-Benefit Analysis, “Secret Science,” and OIRA Reviews of Rulemaking
“The key studies that inform our understanding of the harms associated with fine particle emissions from coal-fired power plants have been replicated by other researchers. But to just make that private patient data available to the public… would destroy the entire research enterprise. … It’s very hard to read the transparency argument as anything but a grab at trying to reduce benefit estimates by throwing out the best available studies.”
It’s hard to make an intellectually-defensible benefit-cost analysis that doesn’t suggest that air pollution doesn’t have large mortality impacts that people value very highly.”
Sheila Olmstead is a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin (UT), a visiting fellow at Resources for the Future (RFF) in Washington, DC and a senior fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana. From 2016–2017, she served as the Senior Economist for Energy and the Environment at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. She holds a Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University (2002), a master’s in public affairs from The University of Texas at Austin (1996) and a B.A. from the University of Virginia (1992).
- “EPA’s Valuation of Environmental Externalities from Electricity Production,” UT Energy Institute Full Cost of Electricity Study (2017)
- “MATS: Co-Benefits and the Courts in U.S. Cost-Benefit Analysis,” Arik Levinson (2019)( Case Study on the Mercury Rule and BCA)
- Interview with former OIRA Chief Cass Sunstein on cost-benefit analysis.
- Friedman, “EPA Plans to Get Thousands of Pollution Deaths Off the Books by Changing Its Math,” N.Y. Times (May 20, 2019)
To learn more about Sheila Olmstead, please visit her home page: HERE
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