Regulating Climate in a Climate of Regulation
Environmental Law360 and Energy Law360
November 18, 2009
The article focused the potential impacts of the Obama administration’s approaches to policy-setting regarding greenhouse gases (GHG). The article discussed two regulatory theories—the “precautionary principle” and “cost benefit analysis”—and the tension between these two models for reviewing regulations. It noted the “precautionary principle,” which advocates action in the face of uncertainty, tries to regulate climate change due to presumed and indirect impacts on human health. The article argued that under the “cost benefit” theory, the costs to industry would be weighed against uncertain impacts on human health (in the example of GHG regulation). The article also explained why Cass Sunstien, the Obama Administrator of OIRA, is a strong advocate of the “cost benefit” model; but Carol Browner, Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, and Lisa Heinzerling, Associate Administrator of the U.S. EPA, adhere to the “precautionary principle.”