Scholar Commentary

CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.

Op-ed: Changes to the Endangered Species Act will benefit endangered plants and animals

Despite the backlash, the changes to the ESA are likely to benefit endangered species by creating stronger incentives for private landowners to get involved in conservation.

Op-ed: Want To Help Immigrants? Reform Occupational Licensing Restrictions

An unlikely immigration issue is actually a collection of state policies that hold immigrants back — occupational licensing.

Op-ed: The Right Way to Shape Our Low-Carbon Future

While renewables will certainly play a role in our low-carbon future, they aren’t our only option for reducing carbon emissions.

Op-ed: Unnecessary regulation headaches for workers, business worst in these states

Different states have different rules and fees for those applying to get licenses, those laws can have a significant impact on who — and how many people — businesses choose to hire.

Megan E. Hansen Discusses Improving Public Lands Management on C-SPAN

CGO Research Director Megan E. Hansen talked about her new policy paper, Executive Discretion and the Antiquities Act, and shared suggestions for how to improve public lands management on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal morning program.

Op-ed: Is Big Tech biased?

It’s time for a little perspective. No company is perfect, and each should be held accountable for its actions. But many of our fears are just plain overblown.

Radio: Megan E. Hansen talks public lands on Lars Larson Show

Megan E. Hansen, CGO Research Director, discusses what can be done to balance national land and public need on The Lars Larson Show.

Op-ed: Tax reform contributes to Utah’s economic success

Based on our economic research, it is clear that the best path for continued prosperity in Utah is in lowering overall rates and broadening the base.

Radio: Christopher Koopman on American Radio Journal

Christopher Koopman talks with American Radio Journal’s Lowman Henry about the impact on consumers of anti-trust actions against big tech firms.

Op-ed: How to protect monuments and local communities

At the heart of the controversy over Bears Ears is the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gives presidents broad discretion to designate and alter national monuments without requiring direct oversight from Congress or input from local stakeholders.

OP-ED: APPA opinion on electric rates misses mark, retail choice better for customers: Academics

A recent study released by the American Public Power Association (APPA) concludes that, “between 1997 and 2018, increases in retail electric prices in states with deregulated electric markets…

Podcast: Brian Isom Discusses How Policy Changes Can Reduce Wildfires

CGO Research Manager Brian Isom expounds on wildfire policy.

Podcast: Robert Krol Discusses Highway Expansion, Tolls, and Congestion

Dr. Robert Krol of California State University was a guest on Economics Detective Radio to discuss the policy paper he wrote for The Center for Growth and Opportunity.

Public Interest Comment: Modifications to Fuel Regulations to Provide Flexibility for E15 and to Elements of the Renewable Identification Number Compliance System

In this comment, the author shows how permitting year-round E15 sales introduces a number of environmental concerns that are inadequately addressed by the proposed rulemaking’s analysis. Specifically, the proposal’s exclusive reliance on EPA models and simulations of tailpipe emissions ignore alternative methodologies that more credibly reveal ethanol’s environmental impact on urban transportation emissions.

Op-ed: National park entry fees are vital

CGO Research Director Megan Hansen and Undergraduate Research Fellow Rebekah Yeagley examine how proposals to eliminate entry fees will affect our treasured landscapes.

Op-ed: If you love forests, let them burn

Today marks 49 years since Earth Day was first established by Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI). Since then, the United States has made great strides towards improving the nation’s collective impact on the environment.

Smith Testifies Before Colorado House Finance Committee

CGO Research Manager Josh T. Smith testified before the Colorado state legislature’s House Finance Committee on April 17, 2019.

Op-ed: Want border security? Drop the wall and welcome more immigrants

Policymakers should focus on expanding opportunities for people to peacefully and productively work in the U.S.

Op-ed: The US Biofuel Mandate Does More Harm Than Good

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule to allow the year-round sale of E15 fuel, a gasoline mixed with biofuel produced from corn. The ethanol industry trumpeted these changes as a boon to the environment, arguing that gasoline with ethanol added will clean up emissions from transportation fuel.

Op-ed: Why are states chasing away robot dogs?

Sony recently re-released an updated version of aibo, the robotic dog it sold from 1999 to 2006. The “canine” is built and designed for companionship, using artificial intelligence to remember different people. It also recognizes how they react to its behavior, enabling it to respond based on what makes them happy.

Op-ed: We can’t copy China’s game plan if we want to beat them to 5G

In the race to 5G, China is winning. The United States was slow out of the gate and is now playing catch up. The question at this point is not so much when we will get there but whether or not we will beat China.

Op-ed: Why rent control won’t protect the poorest

While much attention over Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal has focused on the mystery of the disappearing website FAQ, its call to arms against flight travel, and the dangers of bovine flatulence, one of its more overlooked pillars is already impacting state-level policy debates across the country: the push for universal “safe, affordable, adequate housing.

Op-ed: Our Climate Solution? It May Be Written In the Stars

Just before the holidays, Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., pointed to innovation as our best hope to curb carbon emissions. “Technology breakthroughs,” he said, “have led to an American energy renaissance and a growing economy.”

Smith Testifies before the Colorado House Business Affairs and Labor Committee

Josh T. Smith, Research Manager at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, testified before the Colorado House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on February 13, 2019.

Op-ed: Onerous Iowa occupational licensing laws limit opportunity and cost millions

A recent editorial in the Des Moines Register pointed out the stringent licensing laws that pervade the cosmetology industry in Iowa. As the article discusses, current occupational licensing rules require beauticians in training to undergo more than a year of full-time training.

Op-ed: Walls Don’t Stop Migrants, But Tariffs Might

In his 2019 State of the Union address, President Trump outlined a moral duty to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to prevent illegal immigration. But it’s not likely that he’ll receive congressional approval or funding for it.

Op-ed: The Wall Won’t Work

After closing for 35 days, the US government is open once again, at least until February 15. The deadlock over funding for President Trump’s border wall remains unresolved, however.

Op-ed: Licensing hurts, not helps, Utahns

At a meeting earlier this month, the Utah State Board of Education discussed concerns that too many teachers in the state are unlicensed. A 2016 change by the board allowed Utah schools to hire people without licenses to overcome a shortage of teachers in Utah.

Op-ed: The right strategy for handling general contractors

As the Idaho housing market continues to boom, complaints about substandard general contractors and shoddy building practices are on the rise. Many argue that contractors should be required to obtain a license from the state and further licensing laws are the best way to protect Idaho’s citizens from bad contractors.

Op-ed: Banning flavored tobacco and vaping products does more harm than good

Despite being far from the intended target of banning cotton candy-flavored vaping juice, traditional tobacco shops across California nevertheless are caught in efforts to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products statewide.

Op-ed: Act Now to Keep Housing More Affordable

Recently, the Salt Lake City Council approved rules allowing more Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), often simply called mother-in-law apartments. The change comes after nearly a decade of slogging through compromises and slow deliberation.

Op-ed: The Shutdown is Ruining Our National Parks

As the government shutdown drags on, the fallout of political bickering in Washington, D.C., is being felt thousands of miles away in America’s beloved national parks.

Op-ed: Lessons to take from drones shutting down Gatwick airport

Holiday travel havoc is almost expected. Canceled flights and stranded passengers are as much a part of the holidays as homemade pumpkin pie and gift returns.

Op-ed: Google and Facebook’s Biggest Problem Isn’t Controlling their Platforms…

Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week is just the latest example of a tech company having to respond to accusations of bias…

Op-ed: Trump is wrong about coal subsidies

Newest member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Bernard McNamee’s nomination fight in D.C. really isn’t just about the appointment; it’s due to the Trump administration’s attempts to throw subsidy lifelines to failing coal plants…

Op-ed: We should be welcoming these families, not tear gassing them

Recently, the migrant caravan of nearly 7,000 people traveling from South and Central America reached the U.S.-Mexico border. The group, half of whom are girls and women, were met with tear gas and thousands of U.S. military troops as they attempted to cross into America between Tijuana and San Diego.

Public Interest Comment: Consumer Protection, Ticket Bots, and the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act

Our comments address the issue of using ticket purchasing software (commonly referred to as “ticket bots”) and the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (BOTS Act). In particular, we discuss many of the misconceptions around ticket bots, and more specifically their use in buying (and eventual reselling) of tickets on a secondary market. The use of bots to purchase and resell tickets is an integral part of ensuring a healthy market that is responsive to consumers and performers. This comment not only addresses the perceived problems with ticket bots but also outline potential alternative solutions to the complaints being made about online ticket resales.

Op-ed: Why the Trump Administration Should Stop Propping Up Coal

Payouts to coal or nuclear producers are unlikely to make the U.S. electricity supply more reliable or safer than it already is. Rather, efforts to support coal plants waste taxpayer dollars in an attempt to stall coal’s decline.

Op-ed: Don’t Fret the Lame Duck

It’s troubling for many people to know that some members of Congress are given one last chance to govern without ever facing an electorate again. Some even view it as a dangerous threat to democracy…

Op-ed: The Many Benefits Immigrants Bring to the US

Recent debates over America’s immigration policy are exposing a deep rift in conservative politics. In the Utah Senate debate earlier this year, Mitt Romney referred to U.S. policies that separated immigrant parents from their children at the border as a “dark chapter” in American history.

Op-ed: Ocasio-Cortez is Right: Amazon Subsidies Do More Harm Than Good

After more than a year of searching and debating, Amazon announced this week that it will split its new headquarters, or “HQ2,” between Queens, New York and D.C.’s Northern Virginia suburbs. Within hours after the announcement, self-described democratic socialist and U.S. Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) rightly pointed out the obvious: Amazon is a massively wealthy company, so why should it receive millions in tax incentives to locate in specific areas?

Op-ed: New Incentives Can Help Protect Endangered Species

Often, the ESA unintentionally makes endangered species a liability for private landowners. When endangered owls are found on property used for commercial forestry, for example, landowners are expected to harbor and protect the animals.

Op-ed: Reducing the Ethanol Mandate is Smart Environmental Policy

Following the boom in oil production from the hydraulic fracturing revolution, environmental protection outstripped energy independence as the major selling point of US biofuels policy.

Public Interest Comment: The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Proposed Rule: Revision of the Regulations for Prohibitions to Threatened Wildlife and Plants

In this comment, the authors evaluate the likely outcomes of this proposed rule change by drawing on previous research on the conservation of endangered species. The authors begin by discussing the evolution of federal protections for endangered and threatened species over time and review key problems with the current approach to conserving species. They draw extensively on their own research on cooperative conservation and the importance of incentives in achieving successful conservation outcomes

Public Interest Comment: The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Proposed Rule: Revision of the Regulations for Listing Species and Designating Critical Habitat

The authors evaluate the likely outcomes of this proposed rule change by drawing from past research on the role of incentives in achieving effective conservation outcomes. They find that including economic analysis would likely be beneficial in helping the Services engage in more cooperative, and thus more successful, conservation efforts with private parties and local governments.

Op-ed: CAFE Standards vs. Economics

The announcement of plans to ease the nation’s fuel economy standards (known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, or CAFE) triggered numerous defenses of the regulation.

Op-ed: Daylight Saving Time Costs More Than It’s Worth

Proposition 7 which is to be voted on next month would repeal California’s Daylight Saving Time Act, thus ending the annual ritual of “springing forward” and “falling back” for nearly 40 million people. If passed Prop. 7 would set the state’s clocks permanently to Pacific Standard Time.

Koopman Discusses Permissionless Innovation on Podcast

Christopher Koopman from Utah State University’s Center for Growth and Opportunity joins State Senator Howard Stephenson and Utah County Republican Party Vice Chair Josh Daniels to talk about the center and his research work on “permissionless innovation.”

Op-ed: Trump’s Ethanol Plans Double Down on Bad Environmental Policy

The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal mandate that requires fuel suppliers to blend a minimum percentage of ethanol fuel into gasoline. Professor William F. Shughart and CGO Graduate Research Fellow Arthur Wardle write about the negative environmental and economic impacts associated with the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Koopman in Roundtable on Emerging Issues in Transportation Policy

This roundtable focused on current regulatory approaches to autonomous vehicles, lessons learned, and emerging issues that states will encounter and featured CGO Senior Director of Strategy and Research Christopher Koopman as a speaker.

Koopman and Hansen Participate in Workshop: Best Practices in Policy Research

This session workshopped best practices for introducing peer review, policy editing, and other steps that can be taken to improve research quality without breaking the research budget.

Op-ed: The ethanol mandate has failed in its original purpose

CGO Graduate Research Fellow Arthur R. Wardle writes about several detrimental environmental impacts associated with a national mandate for ethanol production that was designed to be a boon to the environment.

Op-ed: The problem with metering solar energy customers

Net metering allows solar panel users to transfer surplus power to the public-utility grid and receive compensation for it. CGO Research Manager, Josh T. Smith, writes about the problems with certain net metering policies and how this cost shift can hurt lower-income households

Op-ed: Landowners can help save endangered species

Many private landowners fear the regulation that accompanies the discovery of endangered species on their land. CGO Research Director Megan E. Hansen writes that many landowners want to help save endangered species as long as it is not harming their own livelihood.

Koopman Participates in Panel on Regulation of Emerging Aerial Tech

Christopher Koopman,  Senior Directory of Strategy and Research for the Center for Growth and Opportunity, joined this discussion to consider how lawmakers and regulators can best foster innovation while protecting our safety and privacy.

Op-ed: Reexamining presidential power over national monuments

CGO Research Director Megan E. Hansen and PhD student Jordan Lofthouse write that Congress should act to limit executive power over National Monuments.

Op-ed: Improving wildfire policy is good for more than just the environment

CGO Researchers Josh T. Smith and Camille Harmer write that giving fire managers more authority and resources to prevent fires, incentivizing homeowners to change how homes in fire-prone areas are designed…

Op-ed: A Texas price-gouging law is backfiring

Professor Michael Giberson, of Texas Tech University and CGO Undergraduate Research Fellow Halea Walker explain the negative effects of Texas’s emergency price gouging law and the perverse incentives it creates.

Op-ed: Moratorium on soda taxes puts California on the right track

Professor William F. Shughart II and Josh T. Smith write that data suggests soda taxes are not an effective way to inspire healthy behavior, they merely increase the cost of soda. California enacted a law banning future taxes on soda.

Op-ed: The risk of risk aversion at the Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration’s main objective is to mitigate risk. This mentality, argues CGO Senior Director of Strategy and Research Christopher Koopman, can inhibit innovative thinking. For the U.S. to regain its place as an aviation innovator the FAA needs to accept innovative ideas and approaches that, in some cases, are accepting of risk.

Op-ed: Replacements for plastic straws have their own problems

Various bans on plastic straws are backed by good intentions, yet, these efforts could be tailored to better causes. Alternatives to plastic straws can have larger environmental footprints than their plastic counterparts and usually have much higher costs. Meaningful policy changes will only come as private businesses incentivize individuals to change their plastic consumption and disposal habits, not from increasing the regulation around the use of straws.

Op-ed: ESA and Cooperative Conservation in the West

The Congressional Western Caucus introduced 9 bills in July that shift endangered species conservation to a different, more bottom-up approach. These bills increase information sharing between individuals, tribes, local governments, and private organizations. They also allow for local and state government programs to “take the lead” on conservation efforts.

Op-ed: Conservative Media Skew Story on ‘Dreamer’ Arrests

CGO researchers Josh T. Smith and Jesse Baker write about crime statistics in the debate about DACA recipients (Dreamers) and crime. Dreamers are productive members of society and data suggest they are less likely than other groups to commit crime.

Op-ed: How Banning Plastic Straws Could Make Pollution Even Worse

Banning plastic products would hurt small business owners, have little effect on ocean pollution, and their alternatives require the use of more fossil fuels and electricity. William F. Shughart II and Camille Harmer argue that rather than banning the symptom, individuals should focus on proper waste disposal and recycling.

Op-ed: How Pork-Barrel Spending Shapes the Ideological Composition of Congress

In 2011, politicians were banned from using earmarks. Aaron Hedlund, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, and visiting Senior Fellow at the CGO maintains this policy results in citizens voting more ideologically. Prior to this policy, voters tended to vote for politicians that were more likely to achieve funding for their community and these politicians were more likely to be in the middle of the political ideology scale. Now with earmarking banned, voters’ main concern is ideology.

Shughart Discusses Applied Microeconomic Theory and Public Choice on Podcast

William F. Shughart II, Senior Editor at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, is interviewed by Hayek Program scholar Jayme Lemke.

Op-ed: Hydro Projects Get Lost in Red Tape

CGO’s Research Director, Megan Hansen, discusses the effects certain regulations can have on both the environment and the economy. Due to red tape, only 3 percent of existing dams with small-scale hydropower potential produce power in the United States. Although some deregulatory steps have been taken, more needs to be done.

Op-ed: Ineffectiveness of Renewable Portfolio Standards

Josh Smith, Research Manager for the CGO, writes about other ways to reduce carbon emissions than renewable portfolio standards (RPS). States with RPS mandates have increased electricity prices with no significant decrease in carbon emissions.

Smith Discusses Renewal Portfolio Standards on Podcast

Josh T. Smith, Research Manager at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, takes part in a discussion on Renewal Portfolio Standards (RPS).

Hansen Participates in Public Lands Discussion

On June 29, 2018 CGO Research Director Megan Hansen joins other panelists from The Heritage Foundation and Southern Utah University at a Public Lands Discussion featuring Senator Mike Lee hosted by The Sutherland Institute.

Op-ed: Energy Markets Serve National Security Better than Favoritism

The Trump administration proposed a policy aimed at helping suffering coal and nuclear power plants by requiring utilities to purchase electricity from these plants. CGO researchers, Camille Harmer and Josh T. Smith, write about the effectiveness and political motivation of this policy.

Op-ed: It’s a new day for daily fantasy sports betting

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal prohibition on sports gambling. With many states making changes to accommodate the Supreme Court’s decision, one thing is clear: Legal sports gambling is here to stay.

Op-ed: The High Cost of Solar Mandates

In May 2018, the California Energy Commission took another step toward requiring all new homes under three stories to have solar panels installed beginning in 2020.

Koopman Discusses Aviation Empowerment Act on Podcast

Christopher Koopman, CGO Senior Director of Strategy and Research, discusses the recently-introduced Aviation Empowerment Act and the future of public policy in the aviation industry.

Koopman Testifies Before Joint Economic Committee

Christopher Koopman, Senior Director of Strategy and Research at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, testified before the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee on May 22, 2018.

Koopman Participates in Emerging Technology in Transportation Panel

On May 18, 2018, the Regulatory Transparency Project and Capitol Hill Chapter of the Federalist Society co-sponsored a panel discussion on emerging technology legislation featuring experts in technology and innovation policy. CGO Senior Director of Strategy and Research joins other panelists to discuss drone delivery, autonomous vehicles, flight sharing, and more.

Op-ed: Flight-sharing could bring Uber to the skies

Christopher Koopman, Senior Director of Strategy and Research at the Center for Growth and Opportunity, and Michael Kotrous, of the Mercatus Center, argue that allowing flight-sharing companies to operate in the U.S. market would enable rural citizens to travel and work remotely by providing flight services to areas that lack major airports.

Op-ed: Despite safety record, Chernobyl haunts nuclear power industry

Despite being safer than both wind and solar production in terms of employee deaths and environmental impact, nuclear power has a poor public reputation, due in part to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Given improved technology in the intervening 32 years, Professor William Shughart, of Utah State University, and researcher Brian Isom, of the Center for Growth and Opportunity, argue that using nuclear power to generate electricity can reduce carbon emissions more safely than any other type of power technology.

Op-ed: Allow the testing of driverless cars on their roads

In this article Chris Koopman, at the Center for Growth and Opportunity, and Jennifer Huddleston Skees of the Mercatus Center advocate for a comprehensive policy framework that is friendly to self-driving technologies and argue that allowing testing of these technologies will create safer roads for everyone

Op-ed: Telling Dreamers to ‘get in line’ misses the mark on immigration

Josh Smith, of the Center for Growth and Opportunity, suggests that common arguments against DACA do not reflect the economic benefit that immigrants create in the United States.

Op-ed: Tariffs and Econ 101

Professor William F. Shughart II, of Utah State University, and research fellow Kristian Fors, of the Center for Growth and Opportunity, outline why President Trump’s steel tariffs will cause more economic damage than good.

Op-ed: Mixed Signals for U.S. Solar Industry

The Trump Administration recently implemented a tariff on foreign solar panels in an attempt to bolster domestic solar panel production. However, the U.S. solar industry has been growing successfully because access to cheaper solar panels manufactured outside the U.S. has lowered the cost for solar companies to operate.

Op-ed: 11 Billion reasons to raise park entry fees

A massive backlog of repairs is needed in many of the national parks. The Center for Growth and Opportunity’s Josh Smith and Camille Harmer argue that the proposed fee hike is an appropriate way to raise funds to carry out these repairs.

Op-ed: ‘Dreamers’ are worth the wall

During the State of the Union Address, President Trump suggested increasing the number of immigrants eligible for DACA and creating a path to citizenship in exchange for $30 billion to fund a border wall.

Op-ed: fossil fuels in the ground, supports a form of economic self-destruction

Professor William F. Shughart II, of Utah State University, and Josh Smith, of the Center for Growth and Opportunity, argue that the best way to promote progress in the renewable energy sector is not to halt production of fossil fuels.

Op-ed: Let the market determine energy sources’ futures

Meddling in energy markets is a problem on both sides of the political aisle. Whether the subsidies go to alternative energy sources or fossil fuels they ultimately come out of the pockets of average taxpayers.

Op-ed: California’s Soaring Gas Taxes Aren’t Even Going to the Roads

Professor William Shughart, of Utah State University, and CGO Undergraduate Research Fellow Kristian Fors, of the Center for Growth and Opportunity, explain how “user fee” gas taxes in California are intended to support road and transportation maintenance, but instead have been re-allocated to unrelated spending programs.

Op-ed: Paying more at the pump will not fix California’s roads

Californians will now be paying almost 60 cents per gallon in taxes for their gasoline purchases—an increase of 12 cents. The increase comes after the rise of hybrid and electric vehicles has caused a decline in gas-tax revenue and left the highway trust fund short on cash.

Op-ed: Dreamers Deserve a Legislative Fix

During the State of the Union Address, President Trump suggested increasing the number of immigrants eligible for DACA and creating a path to citizenship in exchange for $30 billion to fund a border wall.

Op-ed: Markets Should Determine Our Future Energy Sources

In this piece, Research Director Megan Hansen explains that the inherent political biases of energy policy push specific forms of energy to succeed and others to fail. Hansen gives examples of how market-driven entrepreneurship has led to more-efficient and less-expensive sources of energy.

Op-ed: Time to free America from the Antiquities Act

The Antiquities Act was passed in 1906 to protect significant areas of the West from the fast-paced expansion of the time. The act paid off and many areas were protected, but as time has gone on, its powers have begun to be abused. It is time for the act to be retired.

Op-ed: Changes to the Endangered Species Act will benefit endangered plants and animals

Despite the backlash, the changes to the ESA are likely to benefit endangered species by creating stronger incentives for private landowners to get involved in conservation.

Op-ed: Want To Help Immigrants? Reform Occupational Licensing Restrictions

An unlikely immigration issue is actually a collection of state policies that hold immigrants back — occupational licensing.

Op-ed: The Right Way to Shape Our Low-Carbon Future

While renewables will certainly play a role in our low-carbon future, they aren’t our only option for reducing carbon emissions.

Op-ed: Unnecessary regulation headaches for workers, business worst in these states

Different states have different rules and fees for those applying to get licenses, those laws can have a significant impact on who — and how many people — businesses choose to hire.

Op-ed: Is Big Tech biased?

It’s time for a little perspective. No company is perfect, and each should be held accountable for its actions. But many of our fears are just plain overblown.

Op-ed: Tax reform contributes to Utah’s economic success

Based on our economic research, it is clear that the best path for continued prosperity in Utah is in lowering overall rates and broadening the base.

Op-ed: How to protect monuments and local communities

At the heart of the controversy over Bears Ears is the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gives presidents broad discretion to designate and alter national monuments without requiring direct oversight from Congress or input from local stakeholders.

OP-ED: APPA opinion on electric rates misses mark, retail choice better for customers: Academics

A recent study released by the American Public Power Association (APPA) concludes that, “between 1997 and 2018, increases in retail electric prices in states with deregulated electric markets…

Op-ed: National park entry fees are vital

CGO Research Director Megan Hansen and Undergraduate Research Fellow Rebekah Yeagley examine how proposals to eliminate entry fees will affect our treasured landscapes.

Op-ed: If you love forests, let them burn

Today marks 49 years since Earth Day was first established by Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI). Since then, the United States has made great strides towards improving the nation’s collective impact on the environment.

Op-ed: Want border security? Drop the wall and welcome more immigrants

Policymakers should focus on expanding opportunities for people to peacefully and productively work in the U.S.

Op-ed: The US Biofuel Mandate Does More Harm Than Good

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule to allow the year-round sale of E15 fuel, a gasoline mixed with biofuel produced from corn. The ethanol industry trumpeted these changes as a boon to the environment, arguing that gasoline with ethanol added will clean up emissions from transportation fuel.

Op-ed: Why are states chasing away robot dogs?

Sony recently re-released an updated version of aibo, the robotic dog it sold from 1999 to 2006. The “canine” is built and designed for companionship, using artificial intelligence to remember different people. It also recognizes how they react to its behavior, enabling it to respond based on what makes them happy.

Op-ed: We can’t copy China’s game plan if we want to beat them to 5G

In the race to 5G, China is winning. The United States was slow out of the gate and is now playing catch up. The question at this point is not so much when we will get there but whether or not we will beat China.

Op-ed: Why rent control won’t protect the poorest

While much attention over Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal has focused on the mystery of the disappearing website FAQ, its call to arms against flight travel, and the dangers of bovine flatulence, one of its more overlooked pillars is already impacting state-level policy debates across the country: the push for universal “safe, affordable, adequate housing.

Op-ed: Our Climate Solution? It May Be Written In the Stars

Just before the holidays, Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., pointed to innovation as our best hope to curb carbon emissions. “Technology breakthroughs,” he said, “have led to an American energy renaissance and a growing economy.”

Op-ed: Onerous Iowa occupational licensing laws limit opportunity and cost millions

A recent editorial in the Des Moines Register pointed out the stringent licensing laws that pervade the cosmetology industry in Iowa. As the article discusses, current occupational licensing rules require beauticians in training to undergo more than a year of full-time training.

Op-ed: Walls Don’t Stop Migrants, But Tariffs Might

In his 2019 State of the Union address, President Trump outlined a moral duty to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to prevent illegal immigration. But it’s not likely that he’ll receive congressional approval or funding for it.

Op-ed: The Wall Won’t Work

After closing for 35 days, the US government is open once again, at least until February 15. The deadlock over funding for President Trump’s border wall remains unresolved, however.

Op-ed: Licensing hurts, not helps, Utahns

At a meeting earlier this month, the Utah State Board of Education discussed concerns that too many teachers in the state are unlicensed. A 2016 change by the board allowed Utah schools to hire people without licenses to overcome a shortage of teachers in Utah.

Op-ed: The right strategy for handling general contractors

As the Idaho housing market continues to boom, complaints about substandard general contractors and shoddy building practices are on the rise. Many argue that contractors should be required to obtain a license from the state and further licensing laws are the best way to protect Idaho’s citizens from bad contractors.

Op-ed: Banning flavored tobacco and vaping products does more harm than good

Despite being far from the intended target of banning cotton candy-flavored vaping juice, traditional tobacco shops across California nevertheless are caught in efforts to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products statewide.

Op-ed: Act Now to Keep Housing More Affordable

Recently, the Salt Lake City Council approved rules allowing more Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), often simply called mother-in-law apartments. The change comes after nearly a decade of slogging through compromises and slow deliberation.

Op-ed: The Shutdown is Ruining Our National Parks

As the government shutdown drags on, the fallout of political bickering in Washington, D.C., is being felt thousands of miles away in America’s beloved national parks.

Op-ed: Lessons to take from drones shutting down Gatwick airport

Holiday travel havoc is almost expected. Canceled flights and stranded passengers are as much a part of the holidays as homemade pumpkin pie and gift returns.

Op-ed: Google and Facebook’s Biggest Problem Isn’t Controlling their Platforms…

Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week is just the latest example of a tech company having to respond to accusations of bias…

Op-ed: Trump is wrong about coal subsidies

Newest member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Bernard McNamee’s nomination fight in D.C. really isn’t just about the appointment; it’s due to the Trump administration’s attempts to throw subsidy lifelines to failing coal plants…

Op-ed: We should be welcoming these families, not tear gassing them

Recently, the migrant caravan of nearly 7,000 people traveling from South and Central America reached the U.S.-Mexico border. The group, half of whom are girls and women, were met with tear gas and thousands of U.S. military troops as they attempted to cross into America between Tijuana and San Diego.

Op-ed: Why the Trump Administration Should Stop Propping Up Coal

Payouts to coal or nuclear producers are unlikely to make the U.S. electricity supply more reliable or safer than it already is. Rather, efforts to support coal plants waste taxpayer dollars in an attempt to stall coal’s decline.

Op-ed: Don’t Fret the Lame Duck

It’s troubling for many people to know that some members of Congress are given one last chance to govern without ever facing an electorate again. Some even view it as a dangerous threat to democracy…

Op-ed: The Many Benefits Immigrants Bring to the US

Recent debates over America’s immigration policy are exposing a deep rift in conservative politics. In the Utah Senate debate earlier this year, Mitt Romney referred to U.S. policies that separated immigrant parents from their children at the border as a “dark chapter” in American history.

Op-ed: Ocasio-Cortez is Right: Amazon Subsidies Do More Harm Than Good

After more than a year of searching and debating, Amazon announced this week that it will split its new headquarters, or “HQ2,” between Queens, New York and D.C.’s Northern Virginia suburbs. Within hours after the announcement, self-described democratic socialist and U.S. Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) rightly pointed out the obvious: Amazon is a massively wealthy company, so why should it receive millions in tax incentives to locate in specific areas?

Op-ed: New Incentives Can Help Protect Endangered Species

Often, the ESA unintentionally makes endangered species a liability for private landowners. When endangered owls are found on property used for commercial forestry, for example, landowners are expected to harbor and protect the animals.

Op-ed: Reducing the Ethanol Mandate is Smart Environmental Policy

Following the boom in oil production from the hydraulic fracturing revolution, environmental protection outstripped energy independence as the major selling point of US biofuels policy.

Op-ed: CAFE Standards vs. Economics

The announcement of plans to ease the nation’s fuel economy standards (known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, or CAFE) triggered numerous defenses of the regulation.

Op-ed: Daylight Saving Time Costs More Than It’s Worth

Proposition 7 which is to be voted on next month would repeal California’s Daylight Saving Time Act, thus ending the annual ritual of “springing forward” and “falling back” for nearly 40 million people. If passed Prop. 7 would set the state’s clocks permanently to Pacific Standard Time.

Op-ed: Trump’s Ethanol Plans Double Down on Bad Environmental Policy

The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal mandate that requires fuel suppliers to blend a minimum percentage of ethanol fuel into gasoline. Professor William F. Shughart and CGO Graduate Research Fellow Arthur Wardle write about the negative environmental and economic impacts associated with the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Op-ed: The ethanol mandate has failed in its original purpose

CGO Graduate Research Fellow Arthur R. Wardle writes about several detrimental environmental impacts associated with a national mandate for ethanol production that was designed to be a boon to the environment.

Op-ed: The problem with metering solar energy customers

Net metering allows solar panel users to transfer surplus power to the public-utility grid and receive compensation for it. CGO Research Manager, Josh T. Smith, writes about the problems with certain net metering policies and how this cost shift can hurt lower-income households

Op-ed: Landowners can help save endangered species

Many private landowners fear the regulation that accompanies the discovery of endangered species on their land. CGO Research Director Megan E. Hansen writes that many landowners want to help save endangered species as long as it is not harming their own livelihood.

Op-ed: Reexamining presidential power over national monuments

CGO Research Director Megan E. Hansen and PhD student Jordan Lofthouse write that Congress should act to limit executive power over National Monuments.

Op-ed: Improving wildfire policy is good for more than just the environment

CGO Researchers Josh T. Smith and Camille Harmer write that giving fire managers more authority and resources to prevent fires, incentivizing homeowners to change how homes in fire-prone areas are designed…

Op-ed: A Texas price-gouging law is backfiring

Professor Michael Giberson, of Texas Tech University and CGO Undergraduate Research Fellow Halea Walker explain the negative effects of Texas’s emergency price gouging law and the perverse incentives it creates.

Op-ed: Moratorium on soda taxes puts California on the right track

Professor William F. Shughart II and Josh T. Smith write that data suggests soda taxes are not an effective way to inspire healthy behavior, they merely increase the cost of soda. California enacted a law banning future taxes on soda.

Op-ed: The risk of risk aversion at the Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration’s main objective is to mitigate risk. This mentality, argues CGO Senior Director of Strategy and Research Christopher Koopman, can inhibit innovative thinking. For the U.S. to regain its place as an aviation innovator the FAA needs to accept innovative ideas and approaches that, in some cases, are accepting of risk.

Op-ed: Replacements for plastic straws have their own problems

Various bans on plastic straws are backed by good intentions, yet, these efforts could be tailored to better causes. Alternatives to plastic straws can have larger environmental footprints than their plastic counterparts and usually have much higher costs. Meaningful policy changes will only come as private businesses incentivize individuals to change their plastic consumption and disposal habits, not from increasing the regulation around the use of straws.

Op-ed: ESA and Cooperative Conservation in the West

The Congressional Western Caucus introduced 9 bills in July that shift endangered species conservation to a different, more bottom-up approach. These bills increase information sharing between individuals, tribes, local governments, and private organizations. They also allow for local and state government programs to “take the lead” on conservation efforts.

Op-ed: Conservative Media Skew Story on ‘Dreamer’ Arrests

CGO researchers Josh T. Smith and Jesse Baker write about crime statistics in the debate about DACA recipients (Dreamers) and crime. Dreamers are productive members of society and data suggest they are less likely than other groups to commit crime.

Op-ed: How Banning Plastic Straws Could Make Pollution Even Worse

Banning plastic products would hurt small business owners, have little effect on ocean pollution, and their alternatives require the use of more fossil fuels and electricity. William F. Shughart II and Camille Harmer argue that rather than banning the symptom, individuals should focus on proper waste disposal and recycling.

Op-ed: How Pork-Barrel Spending Shapes the Ideological Composition of Congress

In 2011, politicians were banned from using earmarks. Aaron Hedlund, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, and visiting Senior Fellow at the CGO maintains this policy results in citizens voting more ideologically. Prior to this policy, voters tended to vote for politicians that were more likely to achieve funding for their community and these politicians were more likely to be in the middle of the political ideology scale. Now with earmarking banned, voters’ main concern is ideology.

Op-ed: Hydro Projects Get Lost in Red Tape

CGO’s Research Director, Megan Hansen, discusses the effects certain regulations can have on both the environment and the economy. Due to red tape, only 3 percent of existing dams with small-scale hydropower potential produce power in the United States. Although some deregulatory steps have been taken, more needs to be done.

Op-ed: Ineffectiveness of Renewable Portfolio Standards

Josh Smith, Research Manager for the CGO, writes about other ways to reduce carbon emissions than renewable portfolio standards (RPS). States with RPS mandates have increased electricity prices with no significant decrease in carbon emissions.

Op-ed: Energy Markets Serve National Security Better than Favoritism

The Trump administration proposed a policy aimed at helping suffering coal and nuclear power plants by requiring utilities to purchase electricity from these plants. CGO researchers, Camille Harmer and Josh T. Smith, write about the effectiveness and political motivation of this policy.

Op-ed: It’s a new day for daily fantasy sports betting

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal prohibition on sports gambling. With many states making changes to accommodate the Supreme Court’s decision, one thing is clear: Legal sports gambling is here to stay.

Op-ed: The High Cost of Solar Mandates

In May 2018, the California Energy Commission took another step toward requiring all new homes under three stories to have solar panels installed beginning in 2020.

Op-ed: Flight-sharing could bring Uber to the skies

Christopher Koopman, Senior Director of Strategy and Research at the Center for Growth and Opportunity, and Michael Kotrous, of the Mercatus Center, argue that allowing flight-sharing companies to operate in the U.S. market would enable rural citizens to travel and work remotely by providing flight services to areas that lack major airports.

Op-ed: Despite safety record, Chernobyl haunts nuclear power industry

Despite being safer than both wind and solar production in terms of employee deaths and environmental impact, nuclear power has a poor public reputation, due in part to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Given improved technology in the intervening 32 years, Professor William Shughart, of Utah State University, and researcher Brian Isom, of the Center for Growth and Opportunity, argue that using nuclear power to generate electricity can reduce carbon emissions more safely than any other type of power technology.

Op-ed: Allow the testing of driverless cars on their roads

In this article Chris Koopman, at the Center for Growth and Opportunity, and Jennifer Huddleston Skees of the Mercatus Center advocate for a comprehensive policy framework that is friendly to self-driving technologies and argue that allowing testing of these technologies will create safer roads for everyone

Op-ed: Telling Dreamers to ‘get in line’ misses the mark on immigration

Josh Smith, of the Center for Growth and Opportunity, suggests that common arguments against DACA do not reflect the economic benefit that immigrants create in the United States.

Op-ed: Tariffs and Econ 101

Professor William F. Shughart II, of Utah State University, and research fellow Kristian Fors, of the Center for Growth and Opportunity, outline why President Trump’s steel tariffs will cause more economic damage than good.

Op-ed: Mixed Signals for U.S. Solar Industry

The Trump Administration recently implemented a tariff on foreign solar panels in an attempt to bolster domestic solar panel production. However, the U.S. solar industry has been growing successfully because access to cheaper solar panels manufactured outside the U.S. has lowered the cost for solar companies to operate.

Op-ed: 11 Billion reasons to raise park entry fees

A massive backlog of repairs is needed in many of the national parks. The Center for Growth and Opportunity’s Josh Smith and Camille Harmer argue that the proposed fee hike is an appropriate way to raise funds to carry out these repairs.

Op-ed: ‘Dreamers’ are worth the wall

During the State of the Union Address, President Trump suggested increasing the number of immigrants eligible for DACA and creating a path to citizenship in exchange for $30 billion to fund a border wall.

Op-ed: fossil fuels in the ground, supports a form of economic self-destruction

Professor William F. Shughart II, of Utah State University, and Josh Smith, of the Center for Growth and Opportunity, argue that the best way to promote progress in the renewable energy sector is not to halt production of fossil fuels.

Op-ed: Let the market determine energy sources’ futures

Meddling in energy markets is a problem on both sides of the political aisle. Whether the subsidies go to alternative energy sources or fossil fuels they ultimately come out of the pockets of average taxpayers.

Op-ed: California’s Soaring Gas Taxes Aren’t Even Going to the Roads

Professor William Shughart, of Utah State University, and CGO Undergraduate Research Fellow Kristian Fors, of the Center for Growth and Opportunity, explain how “user fee” gas taxes in California are intended to support road and transportation maintenance, but instead have been re-allocated to unrelated spending programs.

Op-ed: Paying more at the pump will not fix California’s roads

Californians will now be paying almost 60 cents per gallon in taxes for their gasoline purchases—an increase of 12 cents. The increase comes after the rise of hybrid and electric vehicles has caused a decline in gas-tax revenue and left the highway trust fund short on cash.

Op-ed: Dreamers Deserve a Legislative Fix

During the State of the Union Address, President Trump suggested increasing the number of immigrants eligible for DACA and creating a path to citizenship in exchange for $30 billion to fund a border wall.

Op-ed: Markets Should Determine Our Future Energy Sources

In this piece, Research Director Megan Hansen explains that the inherent political biases of energy policy push specific forms of energy to succeed and others to fail. Hansen gives examples of how market-driven entrepreneurship has led to more-efficient and less-expensive sources of energy.

Op-ed: Time to free America from the Antiquities Act

The Antiquities Act was passed in 1906 to protect significant areas of the West from the fast-paced expansion of the time. The act paid off and many areas were protected, but as time has gone on, its powers have begun to be abused. It is time for the act to be retired.

Koopman Participates in Panel on Regulation of Emerging Aerial Tech

Christopher Koopman,  Senior Directory of Strategy and Research for the Center for Growth and Opportunity, joined this discussion to consider how lawmakers and regulators can best foster innovation while protecting our safety and privacy.

Hansen Participates in Public Lands Discussion

On June 29, 2018 CGO Research Director Megan Hansen joins other panelists from The Heritage Foundation and Southern Utah University at a Public Lands Discussion featuring Senator Mike Lee hosted by The Sutherland Institute.

Koopman Participates in Emerging Technology in Transportation Panel

On May 18, 2018, the Regulatory Transparency Project and Capitol Hill Chapter of the Federalist Society co-sponsored a panel discussion on emerging technology legislation featuring experts in technology and innovation policy. CGO Senior Director of Strategy and Research joins other panelists to discuss drone delivery, autonomous vehicles, flight sharing, and more.

Public Interest Comment: Modifications to Fuel Regulations to Provide Flexibility for E15 and to Elements of the Renewable Identification Number Compliance System

In this comment, the author shows how permitting year-round E15 sales introduces a number of environmental concerns that are inadequately addressed by the proposed rulemaking’s analysis. Specifically, the proposal’s exclusive reliance on EPA models and simulations of tailpipe emissions ignore alternative methodologies that more credibly reveal ethanol’s environmental impact on urban transportation emissions.

Public Interest Comment: Consumer Protection, Ticket Bots, and the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act

Our comments address the issue of using ticket purchasing software (commonly referred to as “ticket bots”) and the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (BOTS Act). In particular, we discuss many of the misconceptions around ticket bots, and more specifically their use in buying (and eventual reselling) of tickets on a secondary market. The use of bots to purchase and resell tickets is an integral part of ensuring a healthy market that is responsive to consumers and performers. This comment not only addresses the perceived problems with ticket bots but also outline potential alternative solutions to the complaints being made about online ticket resales.

Public Interest Comment: The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Proposed Rule: Revision of the Regulations for Prohibitions to Threatened Wildlife and Plants

In this comment, the authors evaluate the likely outcomes of this proposed rule change by drawing on previous research on the conservation of endangered species. The authors begin by discussing the evolution of federal protections for endangered and threatened species over time and review key problems with the current approach to conserving species. They draw extensively on their own research on cooperative conservation and the importance of incentives in achieving successful conservation outcomes

Public Interest Comment: The Fish and Wildlife Service’s Proposed Rule: Revision of the Regulations for Listing Species and Designating Critical Habitat

The authors evaluate the likely outcomes of this proposed rule change by drawing from past research on the role of incentives in achieving effective conservation outcomes. They find that including economic analysis would likely be beneficial in helping the Services engage in more cooperative, and thus more successful, conservation efforts with private parties and local governments.

Radio: Christopher Koopman on American Radio Journal

Christopher Koopman talks with American Radio Journal’s Lowman Henry about the impact on consumers of anti-trust actions against big tech firms.

Podcast: Brian Isom Discusses How Policy Changes Can Reduce Wildfires

CGO Research Manager Brian Isom expounds on wildfire policy.

Podcast: Robert Krol Discusses Highway Expansion, Tolls, and Congestion

Dr. Robert Krol of California State University was a guest on Economics Detective Radio to discuss the policy paper he wrote for The Center for Growth and Opportunity.

Koopman Discusses Permissionless Innovation on Podcast

Christopher Koopman from Utah State University’s Center for Growth and Opportunity joins State Senator Howard Stephenson and Utah County Republican Party Vice Chair Josh Daniels to talk about the center and his research work on “permissionless innovation.”

Shughart Discusses Applied Microeconomic Theory and Public Choice on Podcast

William F. Shughart II, Senior Editor at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, is interviewed by Hayek Program scholar Jayme Lemke.

Smith Discusses Renewal Portfolio Standards on Podcast

Josh T. Smith, Research Manager at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, takes part in a discussion on Renewal Portfolio Standards (RPS).