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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created to protect public health and the environment. EPA has traditionally emphasized its regulatory mission over its scientific mission, yet for environmental policy to be credible with the public and policymakers, it must be perceived to have a sound basis in science. Science at EPA is a frank, provocative evaluation of the agency's acquisition and use of science in regulatory decision-making. It analyzes the institutions, players, politics, and challenges involved in this crucial but problematic endeavor.
Controversy surrounds many EPA regulations. Critics, from corners as different as Science magazine and Rush Limbaugh, contend that increasing costs outweigh diminishing benefits. In this volume, Mark Powell provides the most comprehensive examination available on the acquisition and use of science in environmental regulation. How is the science designed and executed? What steps does EPA take to ensure that useful science is available when regulatory decisions arise? And how is science communicated and used in rulemaking? Powell describes the key obstacles to the practical, efficient, and effective acquisition and application of science. They include large scientific uncertainties, increasing workloads, time constraints, short-term political demands, and EPA's staff patterns and legalistic culture.
Powell discusses the wide-ranging sources of EPA's scientific information. He reveals the structure and roles of bodies such as the Science Advisory Board and EPA's Office of Research and Development. He includes detailed case studies that trace and evaluate the use of science in eight EPA decisions, involving each of the major statutory programs. Drawing on extensive research and personal interviews with many of the people involved, Powell maps the origins, flow, and impact of scientific information in these decisions.
Powell's description of the environment-and-science regime examines a critically important policy apparatus. Science at EPA includes an overall evaluation of the agency's acquisition and use of science and makes specific policy proposals for the agency to improve in this area. The net result is an essential contribution for practitioners, scholars and students, and citizens determined to protect our environment rationally and effectively.