Michael A. Livermore

Michael A. Livermore is the executive director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law. He is the author, with Richard L. Revesz, of Retaking Rationality: How Cost-Benefit Analysis Can Better Protect the Environmental and Our Health.

stick a never in their cap

Can EPA run a cap-and-trade program?

The Obama administration has made very clear that they want Congress, rather than EPA, to take the lead in creating a national response to climate change. Despite their oft-repeated preference for congressional action, recently, EPA head Lisa Jackson had to once again reiterate that the agency had no plans to do a carbon cap. There is some irony in members of Congress worrying about what EPA is up to when their time might be better spent putting a law together themselves. Under existing law, it is possible for EPA to create an economy-wide price on carbon. The Clean Air Act …

Is it a problem that more industry groups are meeting with key regulatory officials than enviros?

Some small hope has been renewed for a climate change bill out of Congress this year. But if the legislative process fails to produce a law, Obama’s regulatory levers will become more and more important — and how they evaluate new rules will come under scrutiny. So is it a problem that industry groups are meeting with key regulatory officials in the White House in much bigger numbers than environmentalists? The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is the powerful behind-the-scenes agency that review cost-benefit analyses of major environmental regulations like CAFE standards or coal ash regulation. Before rules …

After midnight, we're gonna let it all hang out

Midnight regulations

In the months leading up to President Obama’s inauguration, the Bush administration rushed through a raft of controversial regulations. These “midnight regulations,” like the one that would allow mining waste to be dumped into rivers and streams in West Virginia, caused a major stir at the time — but whatever happened to them? After a year in office, has the new president been able to clean up his predecessor’s last minute mess? The answer is a mixed bag of attempts, delays, successes, and road blocks. Among the avalanche of over 150 midnight regulations issued in the waning days of Bush’s …

TVA or CYA?

On first anniversary of massive spill, coal ash remains unregulated

On December 22nd, 2008, a quiet evening in the town of Harriman, Tennessee was interrupted when 1.2 billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge burst out of a nearby landfill, poisoning the land and water in its path and causing untold hardship for families whose lives were turned upside down. A year later, the underlying cause of this massive environmental disaster is still unregulated. Despite some rumblings and tentative first steps, the EPA has a long way to go before adopting rules that require safer storage of this dangerous muck. At the very least, the agency should move quickly to …

Defending the Cantwell/Collins CLEAR Act

Sen. Maria Cantwel (D-Wash.)Sens. Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Collins (D-Ill.) have introduced a welcome addition to the debate over climate change legislation in the Senate. Their bill, with its strong architecture, and simple, fair, and transparent emissions reduction, can help restart the momentum to agree to climate change legislation early next year before the prospect of mid-term elections shuts down the legislative process. Alan Durning and Eric De Place provide a thoughtful critique of the Cantwell-Collins bill, which was introduced last Friday. They justifiably praise certain aspects of the bill, and offer some thoughts on how it can be improved. Mainly …

The tough task of evaluating Kyoto

The Kyoto Protocol has taken criticism from all sides over the years. But in fairness, it is important to recognize that, according to almost any estimate, the treaty has resulted in surpassed targets in some nations, significant emissions reductions even in nations that may miss their targets, and a marked improvement over business-as-usual had there been no treaty. Whether nations ratified the treaty or abstained, all have been the beneficiaries of global benefits these reductions have generated. As nations prepare to meet in Copenhagen, it would seem to be an opportune time to evaluate the success of the current international treaty to …

How much will we pay to avoid serious harm to our children and grandchildren?

International climate change negotiations have centered on which countries are willing to pay, how much, and when. Putting aside bickering over who will pick up the tab, the most central question that we need to ask is: What are we willing to pay to avoid serious harm to our children and grandchildren? Some economists believe the answer is to “discount” the effects of climate change depending on how far in the future they fall. In effect, the further out in time something happens, the less important it is. Discounting borrows the logic of the marketplace where $100 ten years from …

Capturing the massive social benefits of fuel efficiency requires regulation

This Friday is the deadline for public comments on the stricter vehicle efficiency standards from EPA and the Department of Transportation. The docket is likely to be overrun with statements for and against the regulation that would make cars and light trucks 30 percent more efficient in 5 years. From an economic perspective, the social benefits of the rule outweigh the costs. The environmental, health, and energy security benefits — most especially from reducing the tailpipe emission of greenhouse gases — could more than double the estimated costs to manufacturers of installing more fuel efficiency technologies: social benefits could total …

Make the kids pay: The economic effects of climate change on future generations

If someone offered you $100 today or an inflation-adjusted $100 in 10 years, it’s unlikely you’d choose the latter. But if taking the money now cost your child’s generation billions of dollars, that option would seem pretty miserly. The debate over the economics of climate change boils down to that very calculation: how much are we willing to pay today to avoid climate risks in the future? The simple fact is that as we continue to use fuels that contribute to global warming today, we place major economic burdens on our kids and grandkids tomorrow. In effect, we are forcing …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

×