Reviving Rationality Saving Cost-Benefit Analysis for the Sake of the Environment and Our Health

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2020-12-07
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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For decades, administrations of both political parties have used cost-benefit analysis to evaluate and improve federal policy in a variety of areas, including health and the environment. Today, this model is under grave threat.

In Reviving Rationality, Michael Livermore and Richard Revesz explain how Donald Trump has destabilized the decades-long bipartisan consensus that federal agencies must base their decisions on evidence, expertise, and analysis. Administrative agencies are charged by law with protecting values like
stable financial markets and clean air. Their decisions often have profound consequences, affecting everything from the safety of workplaces to access to the dream of home ownership. Under the Trump administration, agencies have been hampered in their ability to advance these missions by the
conflicting ideological whims of a changing cast of political appointees and overwhelming pressure from well-connected interest groups. Inconvenient evidence has been ignored, experts have been sidelined, and analysis has been used to obscure facts, rather than inform the public. The results are
grim: incoherent policy, social division, defeats in court, a demoralized federal workforce, and a loss of faith in government's ability to respond to pressing problems.

This experiment in abandoning the norms of good governance has been a disaster. Reviving Rationality explains how and why our government has abandoned rationality in recent years, and why it is so important for future administrations to restore rigorous cost-benefit analysis if we are to return to a
policymaking approach that effectively tackles the most pressing problems of our era.

Author Biography

Richard L. Revesz is the Director of the American Law Institute. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a senior fellow of the Administrative Conference of the United States. After judicial clerkships with Chief Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the US Supreme Court, Revesz joined the NYU School of Law faculty in 1985, served as dean from 2002 to 2013, and co-founded the Institute for Policy Integrity at NYU School of Law. In 1994 and 2007, Revesz received the American Bar Association's award for the best article or book on administrative law and regulatory practice published during the prior year.

Michael A. Livermore is the Edward F. Howrey Professor of Law at the University of Virginia. He is the author (with Richard L. Revesz) of Reviving Rationality: Saving Cost-Benefit Analysis for the Sake of the Environment and Our Health (Oxford University Press) and Retaking Rationality: How Cost-Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environment and Our Health (Oxford University Press). His edited volume (with Daniel N. Rockmore) Law as Data: Computation, Text, and the Future of Legal Analysis helped define the field of computational legal analysis.

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