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Efficient Ethical Principles For Making Fatal Choices, W. Kip Viscusi Jan 2021

Efficient Ethical Principles For Making Fatal Choices, W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Resource allocations of all kinds inevitably encounter financial constraints, making it infeasible to make financially unbounded commitments. Such resource constraints arise in almost all health and safety risk contexts, which has led to a regulatory oversight process to ascertain whether the expected benefits of major regulations outweigh the costs. The economic approach to monetizing health and safety risks is well established and is based on the value of a statistical life (“VSL”). Government agencies use these values reflecting attitudes toward small changes in risk to monetize the largest benefit component of regulations--that dealing with mortality risks. This procedure consequently bases ...


Governing Cascade Failures In Complex Social-Ecological-Technological Systems: Framing Context, Strategies, And Challenges, J.B. Ruhl Jan 2020

Governing Cascade Failures In Complex Social-Ecological-Technological Systems: Framing Context, Strategies, And Challenges, J.B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Cascade failures are events in networked systems with interconnected components in which failure of one or a few parts triggers the failure of other parts, which triggers the failure of more parts, and so on. Cascade failures occur in a wide variety of familiar systems, such as electric power distribution grids, transportation systems, financial systems, and ecosystems. Cascade failures have plagued society for centuries. However, modern social-ecological-technological systems (SETS) have become vast, fast moving, and highly interconnected, exposing these systems to cascade failures of potentially global proportions, spreading at breathtaking speed, and imposing catastrophic harms. The increasing potential for cascade ...


Beyond Green Infrastructure--Integrating The Ecosystem Services Framework Into Urban Planning Law And Policy, J. B. Ruhl Jan 2020

Beyond Green Infrastructure--Integrating The Ecosystem Services Framework Into Urban Planning Law And Policy, J. B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Despite the heavy emphasis in legal scholarship on federal and state governance of environmental policy, cities have had their champions as well. Legal scholars who stand out as having defined a position for local governance in the environmental domain include John Nolan, Jamison Colburn, Keith Hirokawa, Tony Arnold, and, on any such list, Julian Juergensmeyer. Indeed, in the United States and many other nations, cities have been leaders in many of the looming issues of environmental policy, including those with global dimensions, like climate change mitigation, and surely those with local focus, like climate change adaptation. In the United States ...


The Gap-Filling Role Of Private Environmental Governance, Jim Rossi, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2020

The Gap-Filling Role Of Private Environmental Governance, Jim Rossi, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Private environmental governance provides new tools that can fill gaps in government regulatory regimes. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a valuable case study for testing the efficacy of private environmental governance because it is one of the largest utility carbon emitters and is largely insulated from near-term federal and state government pressure to reduce emissions. TVA is not on a trajectory to achieve the decarbonization targets necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, but private governance initiatives can motivate TVA to accelerate its decarbonization process. TVA's securities filings acknowledge that it faces material threats on the ...


The New Revolving Door, Michael P. Vandenbergh, J. M. Gilligan, H. Feurman Jan 2020

The New Revolving Door, Michael P. Vandenbergh, J. M. Gilligan, H. Feurman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article demonstrates that a new revolving door is emerging between environmental-advocacy groups and the private sector. Since the birth of the modern regulatory state, scholars have raised concerns that the revolving door between corporations and government agencies could induce government officials to pursue corporate interests rather than the public interest. The legal and political-science literatures have identified several benefits that may arise from the revolving door, but the thrust of the scholarship to date has emphasized the potential harms. Using several data sources, we demonstrate that as the private sector has begun to play an increasing role in environmental ...


The Wicked Problem Of Zoning, Christopher Serkin Jan 2020

The Wicked Problem Of Zoning, Christopher Serkin

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Zoning is the quintessential wicked problem. Professors Rittel and Webber, writing in the 1970s, identified as “wicked” those problems that technocratic expertise cannot necessarily solve. Wicked problems arise when the very definition of the problem is contested and outcomes are not measured by “right and wrong” but rather by messier contests between winners and losers. This accurately characterizes the state of zoning and land use today.

Zoning is under vigorous and sustained attack from all sides. Conservatives have long decried regulatory interference with private development rights. More recently, progressive housing advocates have begun to criticize zoning for making thriving cities ...


Designing Law To Enable Adaptive Governance Of Modern Wicked Problems, J. B. Ruhl, Barbara A. Cosens A. Cosens, Niko Soininen, Lance Gunderson Jan 2020

Designing Law To Enable Adaptive Governance Of Modern Wicked Problems, J. B. Ruhl, Barbara A. Cosens A. Cosens, Niko Soininen, Lance Gunderson

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article contributes to the development of adaptive governance theory by articulating and situating the role of formal law and government as the facilitator, but not central controller, of adaptive governance. To advance the understanding of adaptive governance, we argue that it can be understood in the broader context of scholarship covering the observed emergence of new governance, the efforts to develop theoretical understandings through decentered theory, and the refinement of constitutional understanding through democratic experimentalism. Synthesis of these three themes in turn informs the role of law and government in working with emergent governance responses to complexity to manage ...


Introduction: Governing Wicked Problems, J. B. Ruhl, J. Salzman Jan 2020

Introduction: Governing Wicked Problems, J. B. Ruhl, J. Salzman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

“Wicked problems.” It just says it all. Persistent social problems—poverty, food insecurity, climate change, drug addiction, pollution, and the list goes on—seem aptly condemned as wicked. But what makes them wicked, and what are we to do about them? The concept of wicked problems as something more than a generic description has its origins in the late 1960s. Professor Horst Rittel of the University of California, Berkeley, Architecture Department posed the term in a seminar to describe “that class of social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision ...


A Global Assessment Of The Law And Policy, J. B. Ruhl, J. Salzman Jan 2020

A Global Assessment Of The Law And Policy, J. B. Ruhl, J. Salzman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Through building waves of legal scholarship and litigation, a group of legal academics and practitioners is advancing a theory of the public trust doctrine styled as the “atmospheric trust.” The atmospheric trust would require the federal and state governments to regulate public and private actors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to abate climate change.


Forks In The Road, Michael P. Vandenbergh, J. M. Gilligan Jan 2020

Forks In The Road, Michael P. Vandenbergh, J. M. Gilligan

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Essay outlines a simple heuristic that will enable public and private policymakers to focus on the most important climate change mitigation strategies. Policymakers face a dizzying array of information, pressure from advocacy groups, and policy options, and it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Many policy options are attractive on the surface but either fail to meaningfully address the problem or are unlikely to be adopted in the foreseeable future. If policymakers make the right decision when confronting three essential choices or forks in the road, though, the result will be 60% to 70 ...


Beyond Wickedness: Managing Complex Systems And Climate Change, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jonathan M. Gilligan Jan 2020

Beyond Wickedness: Managing Complex Systems And Climate Change, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jonathan M. Gilligan

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article examines the argument that climate change is a "super wicked" problem. It concludes that the wicked problem concept is best viewed as a rhetorical device that served a valuable function in arguing against technocratic hubris in the early 1970s but is unhelpful and possibly counterproductive as a tool for modern climate policy analysis. Richard Lazarus improved on this analysis by emphasizing the urgency of a climate response in his characterization of the climate problem as "super wicked." We suggest another approach based on Charles Lindblom's "science of muddling through." The muddling through approach supports the rhetorical points ...


Adaptive Management For Ecosystem Services, J. B. Ruhl, Robin Kundis Craig Jan 2020

Adaptive Management For Ecosystem Services, J. B. Ruhl, Robin Kundis Craig

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Managing the wildland-urban interface (WUI) is a widely-recognized land use problem plagued by a fractured geography of land parcels, management jurisdictions, and governance mandates and objectives. People who work in this field have suggested a variety of approaches to managing this interface, from informal governance to contracting to insurance. To date, however, none of these scholars has fully embraced the dynamism, uncertainty, and complexity of the WUI—that is, its status as a complex adaptive system. In focusing almost exclusively on the management of this interface to control wildfire, this scholarship largely ignores the fact that rampant wildfire is itself ...


What Happens When The Green New Deal Meets The Old Green Laws?, J. B. Ruhl Jan 2020

What Happens When The Green New Deal Meets The Old Green Laws?, J. B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The multi-faceted infrastructure goals of the Green New Deal will be impossible to achieve in the desired time frames if the existing federal, state, and local siting and environmental protection statutory regimes are applied. Business, labor, property rights, environmental protection, and social justice interests will use them to grind the Green New Deal to a snail's pace. Using the renewable energy transition as the infrastructure case study, this Essay is a call to arms for the need to design New Green Laws for the Green New Deal. Part I briefly summarizes what we are learning about the pace and ...


Environmental Protection Requires More Than Social Resilience, Michael P. Vandenbergh Oct 2018

Environmental Protection Requires More Than Social Resilience, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Achieving the green economy requires taking into account divisive politics and distributive justice.


Keynote: Motivating Private Climate Governance: The Role Of The Efficiency Gap, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2018

Keynote: Motivating Private Climate Governance: The Role Of The Efficiency Gap, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In response to the shrinking federal role in environmental protection, many policy advocates have focused on the role of states and cities, but this symposium focuses on another important source of sustainability initiatives: the private sector, including corporations, households, civic and cultural organizations, religious organizations, private hospitals, colleges and universities, and other organizations. States, cities, and local governments are increasingly important, but the limited geographic reach of subnational governments and widespread concerns about the size and intrusiveness of the public sector constrain their ability to address many environmental problems. Private governance initiatives offer an opportunity to bypass concerns about big ...


The Fatal Failure Of The Regulatory State, W. Kip Viscusi Jan 2018

The Fatal Failure Of The Regulatory State, W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The impact of government policies depends on their design, implementation, and enforcement.! The administrative law literature focuses primarily on matters of regulatory structure.2 Government agencies entrusted with protection of the environment and promotion of health and safety foster these objectives by designing and promulgating regulations that are sometimes quite stringent.' Whether these regulations will in fact generate their intended effects depends on whether they create sufficient economic incentives to discourage risky behavior...

The Article begins by documenting the low values currently placed on life in regulatory enforcement efforts. Part I presents examples involving job safety, food safety, motor-vehicle safety ...


Constrained Regulatory Exit In Energy Law, Jim Rossi Jan 2018

Constrained Regulatory Exit In Energy Law, Jim Rossi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In recent years, the federal government’s efforts to open up competitive electricity markets have transformed how we think about the regulation of energy. In many respects, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) broad “deregulatory” efforts, which commenced in the 1990s, might appear to be a case of paradigmatic regulatory exit as defined by J.B. Ruhl and Jim Salzman. But our case study of FERC’s restructuring of wholesale electricity markets reveals some important institutional features that make exit in federalism contexts, and under federal statutory duties, a rich and difficult problem. In the context of energy, exit ...


Private Governance Responses To Climate Change: The Case Of Global Civil Aviation, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Daniel J. Metzger Jan 2018

Private Governance Responses To Climate Change: The Case Of Global Civil Aviation, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Daniel J. Metzger

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article explores how private governance can reduce the climate effects of global civil aviation. The civil aviation sector is a major contributor to climate change, accounting for emissions comparable to a top ten emitting country. National and international governmental bodies have taken important steps to address civil aviation, but the measures adopted to date are widely acknowledged to be inadequate. Civil aviation poses particularly difficult challenges for government climate mitigation efforts. Many civil aviation firms operate globally, emissions often occur outside of national boundaries, nations differ on their respective responsibilities, and demand is growing rapidly. Although promising new technologies ...


In Appreciation Of The Tarlock Effect, J.B. Ruhl Jan 2018

In Appreciation Of The Tarlock Effect, J.B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

So, what is one to do about The Tarlock Effect? It didn't take long for me to realize early in my academic career-well before my foray into climate change adaptation policy-that there's just no escaping it. So I learned to appreciate it. Better yet, take advantage of The Tarlock Effect! My way of doing so is easy: when the next brilliant law review idea pops into my head, I read Dan's CV, knowing he probably has said something meaningful on the theme and hoping not everything worth saying. When I find the inevitable-indeed he has thought of ...


Free Trade, Fair Trade, And Selective Enforcement, Timothy Meyer Jan 2018

Free Trade, Fair Trade, And Selective Enforcement, Timothy Meyer

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The 2016 presidential election was one of the most divisive in recent memory, but it produced a surprising bipartisan consensus. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders all agreed that U.S. trade agreements should be, but are not, “fair.” Although only achieving broad consensus recently, the critique that U.S. trade agreements are unfair has been around for decades. Since 1992, much of this fairness critique has focused on ensuring that trade liberalization does not undermine non-commercial values, such as environmental protection and labor conditions. Beginning with the negotiation and ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA ...


Reconstituting The Federalism Battle In Energy Transportation, Jim Rossi, Alexandra B. Klass Jan 2017

Reconstituting The Federalism Battle In Energy Transportation, Jim Rossi, Alexandra B. Klass

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This article explores the growing federalism tensions in efforts to expand the nation’s energy transportation infrastructure — the electric transmission lines, natural gas pipelines, natural gas import and export terminals and related infrastructure that power the U.S. electricity and transportation systems. It uses two illustrations — one involving an interstate electric transmission line (subject to state jurisdiction) and one involving and an interstate natural gas pipeline (subject to federal jurisdiction) — to highlight how the clear jurisdictional lines between federal and state authority over these projects created decades ago is no longer adequate for today’s energy needs. We believe that ...


Stranded Costs And Grid Decarbonization, Jim Rossi, Emily Hammond Jan 2017

Stranded Costs And Grid Decarbonization, Jim Rossi, Emily Hammond

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Over the past half century, energy law has endured many stranded cost experiments, each helping firms and customers adjust to a new normal. However, these past experiments have contributed to a myopic regulatory approach to past stranded cost recovery by: (1) endorsing a preference for addressing all stranded costs only after energy resource investment decisions have been made; and (2) fixating on the firm’s financial costs and protection of investors, rather than on the broader impacts of each on the energy system.

The current transition to decarbonization is already giving rise to stranded cost claims related to existing energy ...


The Brave New Path Of Energy Federalism, Jim Rossi Jan 2016

The Brave New Path Of Energy Federalism, Jim Rossi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

For much of the past 80 years courts have fixated on dual sovereignty as the organizing federalism paradigm under New Deal era energy statutes. Dual sovereignty’s reign emphasized a jurisdictional “bright line,” with a fixed, legalistic boundary between federal and state regulators. This Article explores how recent Supreme Court decisions limit dual sovereignty’s role as the organizing federalism principle under energy statutes.

These recent decisions do not approach federal-state jurisdiction as either/or proposition, but instead recognize it is concurrent in certain contexts. Concurrent jurisdiction opens up a brave new path of possibilities for energy federalism but also ...


Ferc V. Epsa, Jim Rossi, Jon Wellinghoff Jan 2016

Ferc V. Epsa, Jim Rossi, Jon Wellinghoff

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Essay explores the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in FERC .v. EPSA for state regulation of customer energy resource initiatives, such as net metering policies for rooftop solar and energy storage programs. Unlike many past judicial decision that fixate on a jurisdictional "bright line," EPSA does not define a turf for state policymaking as beyond FERC's reach but instead recognizes how state policies operate adjacent to FERC's regulation of practices affecting wholesale rates. As the first Supreme Court case to explicitly recognize cooperative federalism programs in the regulation of modern energy markets under ...


Global Public Goods, Governance Risk, And International Energy, Timothy Meyer Jan 2012

Global Public Goods, Governance Risk, And International Energy, Timothy Meyer

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Scholars and commentators have long argued that issue linkages provide a way to increase cooperation on global public goods by increasing participation in global institutions, building consensus, and deterring free-riding. In this symposium article, I argue that the emphasis on the potential of issue linkages to facilitate cooperation in these ways has caused commentators to underestimate how common features of international legal institutions designed to accomplish these aims can actually undermine those institutions’ ability to facilitate cooperation. I focus on two features of institutional design that are intended to encourage participation in public goods institutions but can create the risk ...


Good For You, Bad For Us: The Financial Disincentive For Net Demand, Jim Rossi, Michael P. Vandenbergh Jan 2012

Good For You, Bad For Us: The Financial Disincentive For Net Demand, Jim Rossi, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article examines a principal barrier to reducing U.S. carbon emissions — electricity distributors’ financial incentives to sell more of their product — and introduces the concept of net demand reduction (“NDR”) as a primary goal for the modern energy regulatory system. Net electricity demand must decrease substantially from projected levels for the United States to achieve widely-endorsed carbon targets by 2050. Although social and behavioral research has identified cost-effective ways to reduce electricity demand, state-of-the-art programs to curtail demand have not been implemented on a widespread basis. We argue that electric distribution utilities are important gatekeepers that can determine whether ...


Good For You, Bad For Us: The Financial Disincentive For Net Demand Reduction, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jim Rossi Jan 2012

Good For You, Bad For Us: The Financial Disincentive For Net Demand Reduction, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Jim Rossi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article examines a principal barrier to reducing U.S. carbon emissions — electricity distributors’ financial incentives to sell more of their product — and introduces the concept of net demand reduction (“NDR”) as a primary goal for the modern energy regulatory system. Net electricity demand must decrease substantially from projected levels for the United States to achieve widely-endorsed carbon targets by 2050. Although social and behavioral research has identified cost-effective ways to reduce electricity demand, state-of-the-art programs to curtail demand have not been implemented on a widespread basis. We argue that electric distribution utilities are important gatekeepers that can determine whether ...


Supply And Demand: Barriers To A New Energy Future, Jim Rossi, Michael P. Vandenbergh, J. B. Ruhl Jan 2012

Supply And Demand: Barriers To A New Energy Future, Jim Rossi, Michael P. Vandenbergh, J. B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Like many fields, energy law has had its ups and downs. A period of remarkable activity in the 1970s and early 1980s focused on the efficiencies arising from deregulation of energy markets, but the field attracted much less attention during the 1990s. In the last decade, a new burst of activity has occurred, driven largely by the implications of energy production and use for climate change. In effect, this new scholarship is asking what efficiency means in a carbon-constrained world. Accounting for carbon has induced scholars to challenge the implicit assumption of the early scholarship that the price of energy ...


Survey Mode Effects On Valuation Of Environmental Goods, W. Kip Viscusi, Jason Bell, Joel Huber Jan 2011

Survey Mode Effects On Valuation Of Environmental Goods, W. Kip Viscusi, Jason Bell, Joel Huber

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This article evaluates the effect of the choice of survey recruitment mode on the value of water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams. Four different modes are compared: bringing respondents to one central location after phone recruitment, mall intercepts in two states, national phone-mail survey, and an Internet survey with a national, probability-based sample. The modes differ in terms of the representativeness of the samples, non-response rates, sample selection effects, and consistency of responses. The article also shows that the estimated benefit value can differ substantially depending on the survey mode. The national Internet panel has the most desirable properties ...


Regulation In The Behavioral Era, Lisa Schultz Bressman, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Amanda R. Carrico Jan 2011

Regulation In The Behavioral Era, Lisa Schultz Bressman, Michael P. Vandenbergh, Amanda R. Carrico

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Administrative agencies have long proceeded on the assumption that individuals respond to regulations in ways that are consistent with traditional rational actor theory, but that is beginning to change. Agencies are now relying on behavioral economics to develop regulations that account for responses that depart from common sense and common wisdom, reflecting predictable cognitive anomalies. Furthermore, political officials have now called for behavioral economics to play an explicit role in White House review of agency regulations. This is a significant development for the regulatory process, yet our understanding of how behavioral insights should alter regulatory analysis is incomplete. To account ...