Rachel, I quite agree with you about the idea that regulation is the way to deal with the conflict between personal interests and public profits. I think it’s like a public good, there must be someone who pays for it, while some others benefit from it. When regulation brings back the bald eagle, there must be some party’s interests that have been harmed because of it. It also has free riders, that most people would just enjoy the benefit of better environment.
However, I think the biggest issue as we discussed is whether should one agency make a “law” as well as implement it. Maybe it’s better for EPA to act as a supervisor rather than a law-maker. But on the other side, regulations are very close to being laws in all but the name. It means the EPA will have a better understanding on the regulation, and based on what they expected and really got, they can easily change the regulation and adjust them because the environment is changeable.
Back to my argument, I think it’s difficult to define “effective regulation” because it likely depends on what you are focusing on (E.g. the regulation on air pollution). Is it an effective regulation if it causes less pollution but it is more expensive and is detrimental to the industry, or it is more effective if the industry could keep lower costs? We also need to think about which benchmark should be used to measure productivity. We need to keep in mind if we use the data of previous years that things change over time. If we use the data of other states or countries we need to account for the fact that things also differ from place to place.