Retaking Rationality How Cost-Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environment and Our Health

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-04-16
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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That America's natural environment has been degraded and despoiled over the past 25 years is beyond dispute. Nor has there been any shortage of reasons why--short-sighted politicians, a society built on overconsumption, and the dramatic weakening of environmental regulations. In Retaking Rationality, Richard Revesz and Michael Livermore argue convincingly that one of the least understood--and most important--causes of our failure to protect the environment has been a misguided rejection of reason. The authors show that environmentalists, labor unions, and other progressive groups have declined to participate in the key governmental proceedings concerning the cost-benefit analysis of federal regulations. They have opted instead for the moral high ground, preferring to criticize the technique--as being inherently unfair and heartless--rather than to engage in its development. As a result of this vacuum, industry groups have captured cost-benefit analysis and used it to further their anti-regulatory ends. Beginning in 1981, the federal Office of Management and Budget and the federal courts have used cost-benefit analysis extensively to determine which environmental, health, and safety regulations are approved and which are sent back to the drawing board. The resulting imbalance in political participation has profoundly affected the nation's regulatory and legal landscape. But Revesz and Livermore contend that economic analysis of regulations is necessary and that it needn't conflict with--and can in fact support--a more compassionate approach to environmental policy. Indeed, they show that we cannot give up on rationality if we truly want to protect our natural environment. Retaking Rationality makes clear that by embracing and reforming cost-benefit analysis, and by joining reason and compassion, progressive groups can help enact strong environmental and public health regulation.

Author Biography

Richard Revesz is the Dean of New York University Law School and the author of Foundations of Environmental Law and Policy (OUP, 1997); Environmental Law, the Economy, and Sustainable Development. Michael Livermore is the Law Clerk to the Honorable Harry T. Edwards at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Reason and Compassionp. 1
Decisions Are Made by Those Who Show Up
The Case for Cost-Benefit Analysisp. 9
The Walls Go Upp. 21
Missed Opportunitiesp. 31
Winning the Good Fight (Sometimes)p. 47
Eight Fallacies of Cost-Benefit Analysis
All Unintended Consequences Are Badp. 55
Wealth Equals Healthp. 67
Older People Are Less Valuablep. 77
People Cannot Adaptp. 85
People Always Want to Put Off Bad Thingsp. 95
We Are Worth More than Our Childrenp. 107
People Value Only What They Usep. 119
Industry Cannot Adaptp. 131
The Sum of All the Fallaciesp. 145
Instituting Regulatory Rationality
Regulatory Hurdlesp. 151
Shaky Foundationp. 163
Rethinking OIRAp. 171
Balancing the Scalesp. 185
Epilogue: Self-Fulfilling Propheciesp. 191
Acknowledgmentsp. 195
Notesp. 197
Indexp. 237
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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