Hart Hodges

Hart Hodges is an economic consultant based in Portland, Oregon.

Recent Articles

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...