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Reforming Regulatory Impact Analysis by Richard D Morgenstern, Lisa Heinzerling, Winston Harrington

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CHAPTER 6

The Mathematics of Mercury

CATHERINE A. O'NEILL1

The title for this chapter owes a debt to Cass Sunstein, who, in an article entitled “The Arithmetic of Arsenic,” set out to consider the strengths and limitations of cost–benefit analysis (CBA) in the context of a concrete case study, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation of arsenic in drinking water.2 Here I similarly aim to wade into the “muck and mire” of EPA’s recent effort to regulate mercury emissions from coal-fired utilities to glean what lessons I can for regulatory analysis.3

In the first part, I provide a brief background on the nature of mercury contamination and the history of mercury regulation. In the second, I critique EPA’s regulatory impact ...

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