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Policymakers need to reassess the role of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in regulatory review. Although it remains a valuable tool, a number of pressing current problems do not fit well into the CBA paradigm. In particular, climate change, nuclear accident risks, and the preservation of biodiversity can have very long-run impacts that may produce catastrophic and irreversible effects. This article seeks to put cost-benefit analysis in its place by demonstrating both its strengths and its limitations. The Obama Administration should rethink the use of CBA as a way to evaluate regulatory policies and develop procedures to restrict its use to policy areas where its underlying assumptions fit the nature of the problem.
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