New York University School of Law has established the Institute for the Study of Regulation (ISR), a non-partisan advocacy organization and think tank dedicated to improving the quality of governmental decisionmaking in environmental, public health, and safety regulation. Housed within the School of Law’s Center for Environmental and Land Use Law, ISR will be composed of law school faculty, a board of advisors of academic and public policy experts, and fellows. NYU School of Law Dean Richard Revesz will serve as ISR’s faculty director.
ISR’s principal goal will be to implement the vision described in the new book Retaking Rationality: How Cost-Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environment and Our Health by Revesz and Michael Livermore, who will be ISR’s executive director beginning in August. The book, published this month by Oxford University Press, advocates using properly conducted cost-benefit analysis as a tool to advance socially beneficial regulation.
For the past 25 years, progressive groups such as environmentalists and labor unions have declined to participate in the government’s cost-benefit analyses of federal environmental regulations because cost-benefit analysis seemed to place a dollar value on human life and natural resources. By making that choice, they essentially ceded this ground to industry groups, which captured cost-benefit analysis and used it to further their anti-regulatory objectives. The resulting imbalance in political participation has been harmful to the environment and public health.
ISR will work with non-governmental organizations and state and federal regulators and will publish reports, policy briefs, and papers to demonstrate that economic analysis is necessary and that it needn’t conflict with - and can in fact support - a more compassionate approach to environmental and public health policy.
“Without cost-benefit analysis, we are essentially regulating in the dark, a bad idea when regulations can cost billions of dollars, and smart regulation can save lives,” Revesz said. “By fighting to mend, rather than end, cost-benefit analysis, environmentalists can retake the high ground and win the fight for strong regulation.”
For more information about ISR and Retaking Rationality, please visit http://www.law.nyu.edu/faculty/homepages/revesz.