Randal O’Toole Joins Cato Institute as Senior Fellow

February 13, 2007

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The Cato Institute is pleased to announce the addition of Randal O’Toole as a Senior Fellow. O’Toole is one of America’s leading experts on both public land issues and urban growth and transportation issues.

O’Toole began his career in the 1970s as a consultant to environmental groups seeking to influence national forest policy. O’Toole’s research on below-cost timber sales and forest economics had a major influence on Forest Service policy in the 1980s and 1990s. It also persuaded him that government solutions to environmental problems usually created more problems than they solved.

O’Toole began applying this view to urban land-use and transportation planning issues in the 1990s. His work showed that urban planning was not making cities more livable, but instead was increasing congestion and making housing less affordable.

Prior to joining Cato, O’Toole was senior economist at the Thoreau Institute, an Oregon think tank that focused on public land issues. He also helped found the American Dream Coalition, a network of policy and activist groups that work on land-use planning and urban transportation issues.

In 1998, Yale University invited O’Toole to be its McCluskey Conservation Fellow. He also served as the Scaife Visiting Scholar at the University of California (Berkeley) in 1999 and 2001 and the Merrill Visiting Professor at Utah State University in 2000. U.S. News and World Report noted that “O’Toole has earned a reputation for dogged legwork and sophisticated number crunching,” and Newsweek listed him as one of twenty “leading movers and shakers” in the West.

“I am very excited to work with the Cato Institute, which I have admired for many years,” says O’Toole. “The Cato Institute’s support for freedom and limited government perfectly fits my work as a free-market environmentalist. Cato’s reputation and resources will be very helpful in efforts to improve federal, state, and local land-use and transportation policies.”

O’Toole has written two books, Reforming the Forest Service (1988, Island Press) and The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths (2001, Thoreau Institute), and is working on a third that will soon be published by the Cato Institute. He has also written numerous policy analyses, including “A Desire Named Streetcar: How Federal Subsidies Encourage Wasteful Local Transit Systems,” which Cato published last year, and “Should Congress Transfer Federal Lands to the States?” which Cato published in 1997.

“Randy O’Toole is someone with whom we have been hoping to establish a relationship for many years,” said Cato president Edward Crane. “A longtime libertarian and first-rate scholar, he covers areas of public policy ranging from urban sprawl to transportation that have heretofore not received the attention from Cato that they merit.  We are very enthusiastic about the work he’ll be doing for us.”

An Oregon native, O’Toole was educated in forestry at Oregon State University and in economics at the University of Oregon.