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Comparative risk assessment (CRA) is the examination of the relative risks posed by different dangers, with a view to deciding which dangers deserve the most governmental attention. CRA frequently tries to reduce different problems to a common metric, usually the statistical lives saved by a program, so that apples can be weighed against oranges. This article will discuss and assess the growing use of CRA in New York State.

There are two principal arguments for the use of CRA in the environmental context. The first is that we do not have unlimited resources; we cannot move against all problems simultaneously. We must set priorities among environmental programs, and attack the biggest problems first, in a kind of triage. The second argument is that a rational, quantitative approach should be applied to environmental problems so that we can rigorously analyze them, relying more on science and less on politics and public prejudices.


Environmental Law | Law