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Applying Cost-Benefit to Past Decisions: Was Environmental Protection Ever a Good Idea?

By Lisa Heinzerling, Frank Ackerman and Rachel Massey


In this Article, however, we do not mount a critique from outside the technique of cost-benefit analysis. Instead, we examine an argument that proponents of cost-benefit analysis have offered as a linchpin of the case for cost-benefit: that this technique is neither anti- nor pro-regulatory, but rather a neutral tool for evaluating public policy. In making this argument, these proponents have often invoked the use of cost-benefit analysis to support previous regulatory decisions (their favorite example involves the phase down of lead in gasoline, which we shall shortly discuss) as a sign that this technique can be used to support as well as to undermine protective regulation. As we demonstrate, however, cost-benefit analysis would have stood as an obstacle to early regulatory successes. Before turning to the various case studies illustrating this point, we first take a brief look at previous efforts to undertake retrospective cost-benefit analyses of important regulatory achievements

Topics: environmental protection, cost effectiveness, administrative agencies, Administrative Law, Environmental Law
Publisher: Scholarship @ GEORGETOWN LAW
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:scholarship.law.georgetown.edu:facpub-1326
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