Uncertainty, Expertise, and Environmental Decision Making

EPA Grant Number: U915320
Title: Uncertainty, Expertise, and Environmental Decision Making
Investigators: Wells, Louise L.
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 18, 1998 through August 1, 2001
Project Amount: $77,724
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Engineering and Environmental Chemistry , Fellowship - Civil/Environmental Engineering


The objective of this research project is to examine the dynamics of the science-policy interaction through a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods that focus on uncertainty.


This research is conducted using a comparative case study methodology. It focuses on two components of motor vehicle emissions regulations—the inspection and maintenance (I/M) and reformulated gasoline (RFG) programs. Each case incorporates a quantitative analysis of uncertainty with interviews and document analysis. The first component of each case study is an analysis of the uncertainty in the technical information that informs the policy process, including modeling predictions, on-road vehicle emissions, and other data. An uncertainty analysis is conducted that focuses on model predictions and the available data, which begins with a simple comparison of predictions and measurements. The results of this uncertainty analysis inform the qualitative portion of the research. Interviews with scientists and other policymakers, supplemented by an analysis of the policy-relevant documents, determine the role of uncertainty in forming arguments and supporting agendas in the policy processes. These results are compared across the I/M and RFG programs and generalized (if appropriate) to determine the usefulness of uncertainty as a tool in the development of a decision-making framework.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, environmental decisionmaking, uncertainty, science-policy interaction, motor vehicle emissions regulations., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Civil/Environmental Engineering, decision-making, Urban and Regional Planning, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, policy analysis, social impact analysis, decision analysis, decision making, environmental decision making, cost benefit, environmental policy, uncertainty, institutional factors

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999
  • 2000
  • Final