80 Tex. L. Rev. 1997 (2001-2002)
Counting the Cost of Health, Safety, and Environmental Regulation

handle is hein.journals/tlr80 and id is 2011 raw text is: Counting the Cost of Health, Safety, and
Environmental Regulation
Thomas 0. McGarity* and Ruth Ruttenberg'
While EPA devotes substantial resources to cost-benefit analyses
when developing new regulations, the agency seldom looks back at
the actual costs and benefits after those regulations have been
inplemnented. 1
How is my career goizg to be advanced by doing a study that shows
that three years ago the agency made a wrong prediction? It is not in
my best interest. 2
I.  Introduction
In an article aptly titled Regulatory Costs of Mythic Proportions,
Professor Lisa Heinzerling demonstrated that tables purporting to display the
cost-per-life-saved of dozens of regulatory interventions are based upon
erroneous and often outrageous assumptions.3 Yet legal scholars and other
policy analysts, for lack of any better source of information, routinely incor-
porate these tables (a form of urban legend, in Professor Heinzerling's
view) into critiques of existing regulatory programs as if they were based
upon hard empirical data.4 Professor Heinzerling's analyses have focused
primarily upon the denominator of the cost-per-life-saved ratio in these
tables.5  She has rather convincingly demonstrated that many regulatory
interventions that appear to be wildly expensive when viewed from this
perspective were probably not so costly because the number used in the
denominator seriously underestimated the benefits of the regulations.6 In
examining the numerator, Professor Heinzerling came to the surprising, but
W. James Kronzer Chair in Trial and Appellate Advocacy, University of Texas School of
Law.
President, Ruth Ruttenberg & Associates, Inc. and Senior Staff Associate George Meany
Center for Labor Studies, National Labor College
1. U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: ASSESSING THE
IMPACTS OF EPA'S REGULATIONS THROUGH RETROSPECTIVE STUDIES 13 (1999) [hereinafter 1999
GAO RETROSPECTIVE EVALUATION REPORT].
2. Anonymous EPA regulatory analyst quoted in THOMAS 0. MCGARITY, REINVENTING
RATIONALITY: THE ROLE OF REGULATORY ANALYSIS IN THE FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY 137 (1991)
[hereinafter MCGARITY, REINVENTING RATIONALITY].
3. Lisa Heinzerling, Regulatory Costs of Mythic Proportions, 107 YALE LJ. 1981 (1998).
4. Id. at 1984.
5. Id. at 1999.
6. Id.

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