Eban Goodstein

Eban Goodstein is professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College and the author of two books and an economics textbook.

Recent Articles

Auto Erratic

Two or three times a day, perfect strangers come up to me in the parking lot at the grocery store or the bank and ask about my hybrid car, a Toyota Prius. Stranger : How do you like your car? Me : I love it--it's great. Stranger : Does it really get 50 mpg? Me : No, it's doing mid-40s. My best tank was 49. Stranger : How is it on the highway? Me : Great, does 80 mph no problem. Small gas motor, but when you accelerate the electric gives it a kick. That's why it gets such good mileage. Stranger : It looks pretty roomy. I may not be a marketing whiz, but I definitely smell a trend here. For those of you living in a cave, hybrids have both a gasoline and an electric motor that operate together to drive the wheels. The gas engine charges the electric motor, which also captures energy from the wheels when the car brakes. This means that, unlike an electric car, you don't ever plug it in. The Prius drives just like a normal car, with one great twist: At low speeds or when idling at a...

Behind the Numbers: Polluted Data

In one case after another, both corporate lobbyists and academics have overestimated the costs of environmental regulation. Herewith the surprising explanation of why they've been consistently wrong.

I n July, Carol Browner, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, issued new regulations reducing permissible levels of smog and particulate (fine soot) pollution. The political battle leading up to the decision was fierce, even within the administration. One staff member on the Council of Economic Advisors maintained that the regulations would cost a whopping $60 billion—a figure quickly seized upon by industry opposition. The EPA's own cost estimate was much more modest, between $6 billion and $8 billion. In making her case for the new regulations, however, Browner publicly disavowed even her own agency's cost estimates. She argued that industry would find a way to do it cheaper. Whom to believe? Confronted with conflicting estimates, most lay people either throw up their hands or choose sides ideologically. But history provides a basis for evaluating these estimates. Not only do industry lobbyists wildly overestimate the costs of proposed environmental regulations. More...