Efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and control climate change implicate a wide range of social, moral, economic, and political issues, none of them simple or clear. But when regulators evaluate the desirability of climate change mitigation through cost-benefit analysis, one factor typically determines whether mitigation is justified: the discount rate or the rate at which future benefits are converted to their present value.
This working paper evaluates the four principal justifications for intergenerational discounting, which often are conflated in the literature. It shows that none of these justifications supports the prevalent approach of discounting benefits to future generations at the rate of return in financial markets and, more generally, that discounting cannot substitute for a moral theory setting forth our obligations to future generations.
Lessons From New Jersey’s Administrative Process
There is a dearth of studies about the effects of the proceduralization of the rulemaking process on state regulations. In the Regulatory Weeds of the Garden State focuses on regulations promulgated in New Jersey, both prior to and following major procedural changes enacted in the state in 2001.
In Regulatory Cost-Benefit Analysis and Collective Action, Daniel H. Cole describes the influence of cost-benefit analysis and explains how and why it is a politically useful tools for agencies, even when those agencies are not required by law to prepare regulatory cost-benefit analyses (RCBA). As Cole says in his introduction, “For better or for worse, RCBAs have significantly influenced policies for dealing with, or not dealing with, collective action problems ranging from airport enlargement to global climate change.”
“Agency Forcing” Measures
In Federalism Accountability: “Agency Forcing” Measures, author Catherine M. Sharkey advocates a variety of “agency-forcing” measures designed to enhance the ability of Congress, the executive, and especially the courts to ensure that agencies abide by executive mandates and other reforms, and to provide a check on overt politicization or inaction on agencies’ part.
Cost-Benefit Analysis and Regulatory Gridlock
In Cause or Cure?: Cost-Benefit Analysis and Regulatory Gridlock, Michael A. Livermore argues that cost-benefit analysis can be used to overcome regulatory paralysis. An earlier version of this working paper was presented at the Breaking the Logjam Conference at NYU Law in the spring of 2008.
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