New book edited by Duke scholars examines how crises (including oil spills and nuclear accidents) reshape regulation

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Friday, Dec 01, 2017 - 3:12 pm

A new book edited by four Duke researchers examines how crisis events can reshape law and regulation. . . and how we can learn to do better. 

The coeditors of Policy Shock: Recalibrating Risk and Regulation After Oil Spills, Nuclear Accidents and Financial Crises (Cambridge UP, 2018) are Edward Balleisen, Professor of History and Duke’s Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies; Lori Bennear, the Juli Plant Grainger Associate Professor of Energy Economics and Policy at the Nicholas School of the Environment (also Associate Director of Educational Programs at the Energy Initiative); Kimberly Krawiec, the Kathrine Robinson Everett Professor of Law; and Jonathan Wiener, the Perkins Professor of Law, Professor of Environmental Policy, and Professor of Public Policy.

After the immediate challenges of disaster management, crises often reveal new evidence or frame new normative perspectives that drive reforms designed to prevent future events of a similar magnitude. Such responses vary widely—from cosmetically masking inaction, to creating stronger incentive systems, requiring greater transparency, reorganizing government institutions, and tightening regulatory standards. 

This book situates post-crisis regulatory policy-making through a set of conceptual essays written by leading scholars from economics, psychology, and political science, which probe the latest thinking about risk analysis, risk perceptions, focusing events, and narrative politics. It then presents ten historically-rich case studies that engage with crisis events in three policy domains—offshore oil, nuclear power, and finance. 

The final essays consider how governments can prepare to learn from crisis events by creating standing expert investigative agencies to identify crisis causes and frame policy recommendations. The penultimate chapter was informed by the work of a Bass Connections in Energy & Environment team that included Duke undergraduates and graduate students, some of whom are listed as coauthors.  

The book's four co-editors are part of the Rethinking Regulation program at Duke University's Kenan Institute for Ethics.

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