Cost-benefit analyses, the primary means used for decision support and decision making in government regulatory processes, have been overwhelmingly dominated by anti-regulatory rhetoric and vested interests for too long. Environmentalists, rather than fighting to restore balance and more rigorous rationality to the process left the field and concentrated their efforts on trying to persuade lawmakers to remove cost-benefit analysis from the procedural regulatory toolkit, according to Revesz.
NYU Law Dean Richard Revesz has written an interesting essay for Grist arguing that environmentalists should reconsider their opposition to cost-benefit analysis of regulations. It is based upon his new book, Retaking Rationality: How Cost Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environment and Our Health, co-authored with Michael Livermore. While CBA is largely viewed as an “anti-regulatory” tool, Revesz argues cost-benefit analysis, if conducted properly, can support a pro-regulatory environmental agenda. In his view, environmentalists have been wrong to oppose the use of CBA in regulatory review, and should now seek to mend, not end, its use in regulatory policy.
By using economics to show just how wasteful under-regulation can be, cost-benefit environmentalism can be the key to creating the political coalition necessary to make America richer by regulating more wisely.
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