Rena Steinzor

Edward M. Robertson Professor of Law




(410) 706-0564


(410) 706-2184

Photo of Rena Steinzor


  • BA, 1971, University of Wisconsin
  • JD, 1976, Columbia University

Professor Steinzor teaches administrative law, food safety law, and advanced courses on the regulatory system.  She has written in the areas of (1) criminal culpability for recklessness that threatens public health, worker and consumer safety, and the environment; (2) regulatory dysfunction in agencies assigned to protect public health, worker and consumer safety, and the environment; (3) the role of centralized White House review on the protectiveness of regulation; (4) environmental federalism, including so-called "unfunded mandates" imposed on state and local governments by the federal government; (5) the implications of industry self-regulation on the protection of the environment and human health; (6) "market-based" alternatives to traditional regulation; and (7) political interference with regulatory science.

Professor Steinzor has completed a manuscript for a book, The War on Government, to be published by Stanford University Press in 2023.  She is the author of Why Not Jail? Industrial Disasters, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction (Cambridge University Press 2014).  She co-authored, with Sidney Shapiro, The People’s Agents and the Battle to Protect the American Public: Special Interests, Government, and Threats to Health, Safety, and the Environment (University of Chicago Press 2010).   She wrote Mother Earth and Uncle Sam: How Pollution and Hollow Government Hurt Our Kids (University of Texas Press 2007).  She was also the editor, with Wendy Wagner, of Rescuing Science from Politics (Cambridge University Press 2006). She was the editor, with Christopher Schroeder, of A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment (Carolina Academic Press 2005).

Professor Steinzor was a founder, former president, and member scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) (, a think tank comprised of some 60 member scholars from universities across the United States.  

Professor Steinzor has testified before Congress on several occasions, most recently regarding the impact of health, safety, and environmental regulations on the economy.

Professor Steinzor began her legal career in 1976 and entered academia in January 1994. Her first job out of law school was at the Federal Trade Commission, where she was an attorney in the credit practices division, a special assistant to the director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, and an attorney advisor to Commissioner Patricia P. Bailey.

From 1983-88, Professor Steinzor served as Staff Counsel, Subcommittee on Commerce, Transportation, and Tourism of the Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. House of Representatives (James J. Florio, Chairman). She was the primary staff person responsible for legislation that became the "Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986" (Public Law 99-499) and the "Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act" (Public Law 99-519). She also prepared legislation to reauthorize the Toxic Substances Control Act during the 98th Congress.

From 1987 through 1993, she practiced law at Spiegel & McDiarmid, a Washington, D.C. firm representing cities, counties, states, and public agencies in the energy, environmental, communications, and transportation fields. The practice counseled federal, state, and municipal clients regarding compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. She was the partner in charge of the environmental practice at Spiegel & McDiarmid, a Washington D.C. Law firm specializing in the representation of state and local government entities in the energy and environmental areas.

Professor Steinzor is a 1976 graduate of Columbia Law School and a 1971 graduate of the University of Wisconsin.


The War on Government (forthcoming 2023).

Why Not Jail?: Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction (2014). Abstract

The People’s Agents and the Battle to Protect the American Public: Special Interests and Threats to Health, Safety, and the Environment (2010) (with Sidney Shapiro). Abstract

Mother Earth and Uncle Sam: How Pollution and Hollow Government Hurt Our Kids (2008). Abstract

Editor, Rescuing Science from Politics: Regulation and the Distortion of Scientific Research (2006) (with Wendy Wagner). Abstract

Editor, A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment (2005) (with Christopher Schroeder). Abstract

Book Chapters

The Constitution and Our Debt to the Future, in Beyond Environmental Law: Policy Proposals for a Better Environmental Future 145 (Alison Flournoy & David Driesen eds., 2010). Abstract


White-Collar Reset: The DOJ's Yates Memo and Its Potential to Protect Health, Safety, and the Environment, 7 Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy 39 (2017). Abstract

How Criminal Law Can Help Save the Environment, 46 Environmental Law 209 (2016). Abstract

(Still) "Unsafe at Any Speed": Why Not Jail for Auto Executives?, 9 Harvard Law & Policy Review 443 (2015). Abstract

Introduction: Connecting the Dots Between Two Parallel Worlds, 72 Maryland Law Review 1145 (2013). Abstract

Collaborating to Nowhere: The Imperative of Government Accountability for Restoring the Chesapeake Bay, 4 Journal of Energy & Environmental Law 51 (2013) (with Shana Jones). Abstract

Evaluating Rules and How We Measure Their Effects, 29 Environmental Forum 36 (2012) (with Michael Patoka). Abstract

The Age of Greed and the Sabotage of Regulation, 47 Wake Forest Law Review 503 (2012). Abstract

The End Game of Deregulation: Myopic Risk Management and the Next Catastrophe, 23 Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum 93 (2012) (with Thomas O. McGarity). Abstract

The Case for Abolishing Centralized White House Regulatory Review, 1 Michigan Journal of Environmental and Administrative Law 209 (2012). Abstract

Lessons from the North Sea: Should "Safety Cases" Come to America?, 38 Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 417 (2011). Abstract

The Truth About Regulation in America, 5 Harvard Law & Policy Review 323 (2011). Abstract

Too Big to Obey: Why BP Should be Debarred, 36 William & Mary Environmental Law & Policy Review 81 (2011) (with Anne Havemann). Abstract

High Crimes, Not Misdemeanors: Deterring the Production of Unsafe Food, 19 Health Matrix 175 (2010). Abstract

Capture, Accountability, and Regulatory Metrics, 86 Texas Law Review 1741 (2008) (with Sidney A. Shapiro). Abstract

The Legacy of John Graham: Strait-Jacketing Risk Assessment, Risk Policy Alert, May 23, 2006.

Will Superfund Rise Again?, Environmental Forum, Nov./Dec. 2006, at 28. Abstract

The People's Agent: Executive Branch Secrecy and Accountability in an Age of Terrorism, Law & Contemporary Problems, Summer 2006, at 99 (with Sidney A. Shapiro). Abstract

A Perfect Storm: Mercury and the Bush Administration (pts. 1 & 2), 34 Environmental Law Reporter 10297, 10485 (2004) (with Lisa Heinzerling).

"Democracies Die Behind Closed Doors": The Homeland Security Act and Corporate Accountability, 12 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 641 (2003). Abstract

The Unplanned Obsolescence of American Legal Education, 75 Temple Law Review 447 (2002) (with Alan D. Hornstein). Abstract

Bad Science, Environmental Forum, Jan./Feb., 2002, at 28. Abstract

“You Just Don't Understand!”-- The Right and Left in Conversation, 32 Environmental law Reporter 11,109 (2002). Abstract

Toward Better Bubbles and Future Lives: A Progressive Response to the Conservative Agenda for Reforming Environmental Law, 32 Environmental Law Reporter 11421 (2002). Abstract

EPA and Its Sisters at Thirty: Devolution, Revolution, or Reform?, 31 Environmental Law Reporter 11086 (2001). Abstract

Myths of the Reinvented State, 29 Capital University Law Review 223 (2001). Abstract

Devolution and the Public Health, 24 Harvard Environmental Law Review 351 (2000). Abstract

The Corruption of Civic Environmentalism, 30 Environmental Law Reporter 10,909 (2000). Abstract

Reinventing Environmental Regulation Through the Government Performance and Results Act: Are the States Ready for the Devolution?, 29 Environmental Law Reporter 10074 (1999). Abstract

Reinventing Environmental Regulation: Back to the Past by Way of the Future, 28 Environmental Law Reporter 10361 (1998). Abstract

Reinventing Environmental Regulation Via the Government Performance and Results Act: Where’s the Money?, 28 Environmental Law Reporter 10,563 (1998) (with William F. Piermattei) Abstract

Reinventing Environmental Regulation: The Dangerous Journey from Command to Self-Control, 22 Harvard Environmental Law Review 103 (1998).

The Legislation of Unintended Consequences, 9 Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum 95 (1998). Abstract

In Defense of the Superfund Liability System: Matching the Diagnosis and the Cure, 27 Environmental Law Reporter 10286 (1997) (with Linda Greer). Abstract

Regulatory Reinvention and Project XL: Does the Emperor Have Any Clothes?, 26 Environmental Law Reporter 10527 (1996). Abstract

Unfunded Environmental Mandates and the "New (New) Federalism": Devolution, Revolution, Or Reform?, 81 Minnesota Law Review 97 (1996). Abstract

The Reauthorization of Superfund: Can the Deal of the Century Be Saved?, 25 Environmental Law Reporter 10016 (1995). Abstract

The Reauthorization of Superfund: The Public Works Alternative, 25 Environmental Law Reporter 10078 (1995). Abstract