Sunday, November 11, 2012


My recollection of Ronald Reagan's approach to environmental policy is that he maintained that trees pollute, and generally favored massive deregulation, cost-benefit analysis be damned. It's surely a good thing if he made an exception for the Montreal Protocol to control CFCs. But it's disingenuous at best for Cass Sunstein to claim that cost-benefit analysis is "a tool disliked by many progressives but embraced by Reagan," as if the left remains the major obstacle to a rational approach to climate change. Most of the mainstream environmental movement came around to CBA and market-based policies, such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade, some time ago. Meanwhile, the mainstream conservative movement in the United States, including the GOP, has gone all in for an anti-intellectual, anti-science ideology that denies the problem before it even gets to talking about a solution. Whether that is because they have an irrational commitment to some fantasy Randian worldview in which the unfettered market can do no wrong a priori, or because they are in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry, I cannot say. All I can say is that Sunstein should know better. If he thinks invoking Reagan will sway some Republicans, I say good luck with that.

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