Monday, January 7, 2013

Regulatory Choice and Managed Retreat

As readers gear up for the new semester, I thought I would share a wonderful teaching resource on regulatory choice and managed retreat from sea level rise and FEMA-designated special flood hazard areas (SFHAs). My guess is that the below chart will be highly useful for for those readers who will soon be teaching an Environmental Law survey course with a component on regulatory choice, an Ocean & Coastal Law course with a component on sea level rise and adaptation, a climate change seminar, or an undergraduate course on environmental policy that covers any or all of those areas. I'll explain a bit more below.

The chart was presented by Caroline Karp, a long-time and long-loved senior lecturer in the Environmental Studies department at Brown University, at last fall's 9th Marine Law Symposium at Roger Williams. It addresses the range of options available to governments and NGOs to promote managed retreat:   

As you can see, the chart offers a number of different options moving along the scale from the least intrusive to existing property rights (labeling evacuation routes) to the most intrusive (acquiring property though eminent domain), with suggestions along the way for information-based, tax-and-subsidy-based, market-based, and command-and-control approaches. This articulation corresponds nicely with the approach to regulatory choice adopted by many environmental law casebooks and proposes a number of workable options that can promote a rich policy-oriented discussion. The suggestion that decision-makers may move in one way or another along the scale depending on the degree and type of risk perception and concerns about equity and efficiency adds a layer of complexity that can trigger any number of discussions, including a discussion about what values and values systems inform students' own preferences. If you decide to use the slide in your classroom, I'd love to hear what you do with it and how it turns out.  

Professor Karp's entire PowerPoint, which includes a number of other slides on property law, takings law, and federalism, is available here.

-- Michael Burger

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