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Regulation and Distribution

Most regulations seek to improve social welfare, but maximizing overall welfare may not help or protect all groups evenly. Many economists suggest handling unequal regulatory effects through the tax system. But some harms—like the disproportionately high environmental pollution felt by poor and minority communities and loss of the employment base in rural communities due to shifts in the economy—cannot be addressed by monetary compensation alone.

A new article by Richard Revesz, published in the NYU Law Review, offers a blueprint for establishing a standing, broadly constituted interagency body charged with addressing serious negative consequences of regulatory measures on particular groups. Highlighting past ineffective approaches to addressing distributional concerns in environmental justice and coal miner compensation, the article also gives examples of effective executive action for helping displaced coal miners and addressing the costs of climate change.