Would five EPA commissioners be better than one EPA administrator?

Michael Giberson

Steven Hayward makes the unremarkable observation that the EPA is politicized followed by the somewhat surprising recommendation to fix things by adding more political appointees at the top! He recommends a five-person commission structure within which no more than three are of the same party affiliation, similar to the arrangement governing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other regulatory agencies.

Hayward explains, “The EPA’s single-administrator model … is based on what amounts to a conceit that some policy matters are beyond politics or meaningful controversy. This is the apotheosis of the Progressive Era ideal, or rather myth, of enlightened administration by neutral experts. It is also a tactic to deny that what are deeply political administrative decisions are in fact political.” As Hayward points out, a virtue of a multi-member commission over a single administrator is the opportunity for diverse points of view to be represented at the top and for minority views to get public airing.

New group formed to promote research in U.S. electric power markets

Michael Giberson

Last week saw announcement of the Electric Markets Research Foundation. The group plans “to fund unbiased research that will examine the track records of centralized electricity markets and traditionally regulated markets in providing affordable and reliable supplies of power as well as meeting clean energy, transmission and environmental needs.” The news release continues:

“There is a dearth of research available on this market-versus-regulation debate and little analysis has been conducted on this 50-state experiment. The Electric Markets Research Foundation intends to address this by supporting research by academics and industry experts on major electric market issues, including customer rates, reliability and service,” said Bruce S. Edelston, the foundation’s president and the driving force behind the research effort.

The governance group looks a little heavy on DC-oriented policy folks, except for Albert Danielsen, a long-time professor of economics at the University of Georgia and executive director of the Bonbright Center for Public Utilities at U. of G. I guess we’ll have to count on Danielsen to keep an eye on the lobbyists.

I’m looking forward to their efforts.