Grousing about the value of species or “how much for that caribou in the window?”

Grousing about the value of species or “how much for that caribou in the window?”

12/13/2013

The first emergency protection order under the federal Species at Risk Act was issued last week and it applies a list of prohibitions to federal and provincial Crown lands for habitat of the Greater Sage Grouse.  As existing facilities and activities remain largely untouched by the order, it seems likely that Greater Sage Grouse will not be delisted any time soon.  But my focus for this blog is not the prohibitions of the order, or the fact that an order was issued at all (which is significant) but rather to comment on the Regulatory Impact Assessment Statement (RIAS) appended to the order.   A RIAS for a regulation is useful as it provides a level of transparency as to why a regulation is put in place, providing a window into the cost-benefit analysis that goes into deciding whether a regulation has struck the right “balance.”  Granted this only occurs when a regulation is proposed as opposed to when a decision has been made to not regulate an activity, where transparency in decision making is abysmal.

Nonetheless a RIAS allow us to delve into the difficulties about how we place value on things that are not typically or easily quantified.  Generally, when reading a RIAS one tends to get the feeling that regulatory decisions are being made primarily on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis.  The legislative purpose of protecting non-market values, like human health and the environment, seem to play second fiddle.

Read “Grousing about the value of species or ‘how much for that caribou in the window?'” on the ELC blog.

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