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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1711766
 
 

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Misunderstanding Models in Environmental and Public Health Regulation


Wendy E. Wagner


University of Texas - School of Law, The Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business

Elizabeth C. Fisher


University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Pasky Pascual


US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

April 3, 2010

NYU Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 18, 2010
Energy Center Research Paper No. 11-10

Abstract:     
Computational models are fundamental to environmental regulation, yet their capabilities tend to be misunderstood by policymakers. Rather than rely on models to illuminate dynamic and uncertain relationships in natural settings, policymakers too often use models as “answer machines.” This fundamental misperception that models can generate decisive facts leads to a perverse negative feedback loop that begins with policymaking itself and radiates into the science of modeling and into regulatory deliberations where participants can exploit the misunderstanding in strategic ways. This paper documents the pervasive misperception of models as truth machines in U.S. regulation and the multi-layered problems that result from this misunderstanding. The paper concludes with a series of proposals for making better use of models in environmental policy analysis.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 65

Keywords: model, environmental law, science, EPA

JEL Classification: K32, K23

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Date posted: November 19, 2010 ; Last revised: November 30, 2010

Suggested Citation

Wagner, Wendy E. and Fisher, Elizabeth C. and Pascual, Pasky, Misunderstanding Models in Environmental and Public Health Regulation (April 3, 2010). NYU Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 18, 2010; Energy Center Research Paper No. 11-10. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1711766

Contact Information

Wendy E. Wagner (Contact Author)
University of Texas - School of Law, The Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business ( email )
Austin, TX
United States

Elizabeth C. Fisher
University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )
St. Cross Building
St. Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom
01865 276749 (Phone)
Pasky Pascual
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ( email )
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
United States
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