Another legal academic is reportedly signing up with the Obama Administration. According to this report, Georgetown University's Lisa Heinzerling is joining the Environmental Protection Agency to advise EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Heinzerling was the lead author of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' merits brief in Massachusetts v. EPA. While I disagreed with much of her argument, I recognize that the brief was a sterling example of effective legal advocacy -- and her side did win the case, which should say something.
One interesting aspect of this appointment is that Heinzerling is a prominent opponent of reliance upon cost-benefit analysis to evaluate environmental regulations. She has written several articles (many of which are available here) and a book criticizing cost-benefit analysis and testified against confirmation of John Graham to be Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Bush Administration. Heinzerlng's views on cost-benefit analysis put her at odds with President Obama's own pick to head OIRA, Cass Sunstein. Heinzerling has critiqued Sunstein's support for cost-benefit (as in this paper), and Sunstein has critiqued her work as well. Concluding a review of Heinzerling's book Priceless (written with Frank Ackerman), Sunstein wrote:
In the end, Ackerman and Heinzerling's argument seems to me to suffer from the authors' anachronistic and even Manichaean view of the regulatory world. In their rendition, regulators can either stop evildoers from hurting people or prevent serious threats to human health and the environment. That is the right way to think about some environmental problems, to be sure--but most of the time environmental questions do not involve evildoers or sins. They involve complex questions about how to control risks that stem both from nature and from mostly beneficial products, such as automobiles, cell phones, household appliances, and electricity. In resolving those questions, we cannot rely entirely on cost-benefit analysis, but we will do a lot better, morally as well as practically, with it than without it.