Bargaining with Uncertainty: Decision-Making in Public Health, Technological Safety, and Environmental Quality

Bargaining with Uncertainty: Decision-Making in Public Health, Technological Safety, and Environmental Quality

Bargaining with Uncertainty: Decision-Making in Public Health, Technological Safety, and Environmental Quality

Bargaining with Uncertainty: Decision-Making in Public Health, Technological Safety, and Environmental Quality

Synopsis

How are questions of scientific uncertainty resolved in disputes among government agencies or between the government and special interest groups? In this provocative examination of decision-making, Klapp shows how regulatory decisions change in vital public areas such as technological safety, environmental quality, and public health. After examining how scientific uncertainty is used by rival government agencies, consumer/industrial groups, Congress, or the courts to attempt to change regulatory decisions, Professor Klapp contrasts the American approach with that used in France and Britain.

Excerpt

This book explains how regulatory decisions change in public health, technological safety, and environmental quality. I examine three primary cases: regulatory decisions on saccharin consumption, dioxin exposure, and liquified natural gas (LNG) exposure (see Appendix of Chapter 1). Six additional cases comparing the United States and Europe are in Chapter 5. My analytic approach is to interpret decision change according to bargains first between regulatory agencies and citizens (or industrialists) and then between those groups and the "outside options"-- Congress or the courts. I assume that science is uncertain, and that this is a characteristic of each decision.

I provide an analysis of the types of scientific uncertainty and how they are used to change decisions. Uncertainties occur in extrapolation, data, models, and parameters. Outside options then use these types to create political strategies based on doubtful extrapolation, inadequate data, disputed models, or questionable parameter values. Such strategies change the "burden of proof" (Brooks 1984), by either shifting the responsibility of proof (who must prove) or by varying the standard of proof (how much must be proved).

Two factors thus drive the analysis of bargaining. the first factor is that citizens or industrialists must organize in opposition to the regulatory decision. If this does not occur, as in the lng case, then the regulatory decision remains unchanged. the second factor is that the supreme outside option (legislature or highest court) must specifically consider scientific uncertainty. in the dioxin case, the lower court (the first outside . . .

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