Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date





University of Connecticut Law Review




In both academic and legislative circles, risk assessment reform is currently a hot topic. In the last decade, scholars have increasingly criticized the risk assessment procedures which administrative agencies employ to protect the public from environmental and health risks. Critics have pointed to several flaws in the current system, calling it inconsistent, undemocratic, overly decentralized, excessively rigid and unjustifiably conservative. To deal with these problems, scholars have proposed a variety of solutions. Peter Huber has urged agencies to assess risk less conservatively in order to save society from "second best" technology. Cass Sunstein and Richard Pildes have proposed injecting public participation in the risk assessment process as a way of "reinventing the regulatory state." And Justice Breyer has advocated establishing a specially-trained cadre of civil servants to help break the "vicious circle" of risk assessment failure. Legislators too have begun to take steps to reform the regulatory process. The 104th Congress recently debated. several proposals which would have significantly amended the Administrative Procedure Act to require, among other things, mandated cost-benefit analysis and increased judicial review of agency regulations. Though Congress ultimately failed to pass any revolutionary legislation, it seems clear that such legislation is not far off and that America is truly on the verge of becoming "a genuinely post-New Deal regulatory state."

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