Tort Law as an Environmental Policy Instrument

90 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2013 Last revised: 15 Mar 2014

See all articles by Adam D. K. Abelkop

Adam D. K. Abelkop

Stanford Law School; Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

Date Written: January 14, 2014


Policymakers aiming to tackle any environmental problem have a diverse tool chest of policy instruments at their disposal, including command and control regulations, taxes, marketable allowance, and liability entitlements. Scholars of public health and safety have been debating the effectiveness of tort law as a regulatory tool for decades. The legal literature on this topic, though, is muddled because the field has failed to adopt a set of criteria by which to compare tort law to public regulation. Heightened clarity on the usefulness of tort law as a complementary policy instrument to public regulations may have legal and policy implications. This article therefore adopts evaluation criteria from the policy analysis and public policy fields — equity, legitimacy, efficiency, organizational competence, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness — to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of tort law as an environmental policy instrument relative to public regulation.

Keywords: law, tort law, torts, environmental law, law and economics

Suggested Citation

Abelkop, Adam David Kimmell, Tort Law as an Environmental Policy Instrument (January 14, 2014). 92 Oregon Law Review 381 (2013). Available at SSRN:

Adam David Kimmell Abelkop (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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