Welcome Message from Professor Revesz

Cost-benefit analysis can be an advocate’s strongest tool.

When done correctly, the numbers often support strong government protections for important issues like the environment, health and safety, and consumer protection.

But too often, cost-benefit analysis has been used in a biased fashion, leading to deregulation or watered down rules. This imbalance should be reset to produce unbiased analyses that can show what some have been trying to hide: smart government protections are often cost-benefit justified.

Policy Integrity can help groups use economics to reach their advocacy goals.

Richard L. Revesz, Faculty Director

I’ve seen firsthand how the tension between advocacy and cost-benefit analysis has real world consequences. As a scholar, I have focused for decades on improving how cost- benefit analysis is done. During the Clinton Administration, I served on an EPA advisory panel charged with reforming how the agency conducted its economic analyses. One of the things I noticed most at our meetings were the empty chairs in the room.

Industry was always present to push their view—often with the aid of talented lawyers and economists who presented their arguments in the most persuasive light possible. But green groups were no-shows. In that forum, I saw greens fail to engage on key, winnable battles because they weren’t willing or able to use economics to make their case. This experience has been confirmed by many reports from powerful regulators during that time, including Sally Katzen, the “regulation-czar” during the Clinton years.

I know that advocacy groups can use cost-benefit analysis as a powerful tool to promote their causes. That is why Michael A. Livermore and I founded the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law in August of 2008. With a focus on economics and administrative law, we work with organizations to erase bias from the process of judging regulations and pave the way for stronger protections.

Since its founding, Policy Integrity has grown rapidly. Working with a range of advocacy organizations, we have helped them use cost-benefit analysis and economics to address issues like toxic coal ash storage, dirty heating oil in New York City, climate change, and net neutrality protections on the Internet. Through our work, we ensure that the economic discussion is not dominated by one side of the debate.

There is no need for empty chairs when cost-benefit analysis is on the agenda. Instead, Policy Integrity will continue to work alongside its partners in the advocacy community to fill those seats with people using economic arguments to protect the public interest.

I hope you will consider joining our effort.