Promoting Sustainable Pollutant Control Policies Through Consideration of Social and Biological Indicators: An Application to Mercury Control in New England

EPA Grant Number: R833401
Title: Promoting Sustainable Pollutant Control Policies Through Consideration of Social and Biological Indicators: An Application to Mercury Control in New England
Investigators: Borsuk, Mark E. , Howarth, Richard B. , King, Andrew A. , Ranco, Darren J.
Current Investigators: Borsuk, Mark E. , Howarth, Richard B. , King, Andrew A. , Ranco, Darren J. , Turaga, Rama
Institution: Dartmouth College
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: May 1, 2007 through April 30, 2010
Project Amount: $299,969
RFA: Collaborative Science And Technology Network For Sustainability (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainability , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development

Objective:

We have the following objectives for the proposed project:

To identify meaningful biological and social indicators of sustainability that can be linked with mercury control policies using available knowledge and data.

To determine whether the establishment of an explicit connection between mercury policy and biological and social indicators will increase the motivation for individual and organizational stakeholders to act in ways that promote ecological, economic, and social sustainability.

To assess whether the monitoring and reporting of biological and social indicators is likely to improve resilience in the human-environment system by improving stakeholder perception of ecological change, enhancing learning, and facilitating the process of adaptive management over time.

Approach:

The objectives will be pursued by our multi-disciplinary team using a combination of economic and social scientific theory, environmental and ecological modeling, behavioral experiments, and stakeholder interviews. A particular focus of our project will be on identifying indicators that are meaningful to traditionally under-represented or at-risk fractions of the American population, including rural Native-American and urban African-American communities, who may have unique livelihoods, cultural traditions, and exposure situations.

Expected Results:

We hypothesize that explicitly connecting biological and social indicators to mercury management policies will forge a critical link in the feedback chain necessary to promote sustainability. This expectation arises for two reasons related to psychological framing. First, an explicit link between pollutant controls and measurable indicators will frame the sustainability issue in terms of “property rights.” Second, well-designed indicators are more easily remembered and processed and may link more easily to personal aspirations. There is evidence to suggest that both effects are likely to motivate individual and organizational stakeholders to act in ways that promote sustainability. We anticipate that the results of our project will be used to design regulatory frameworks that ensure environmental protection while exploiting economic efficiencies and addressing social justice concerns.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 17 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 6 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

risk assessment, health effects, ecological effects, vulnerability, sensitive populations, environmental justice, integrated assessment, pollution prevention, decision making, preferences, public good, socio-economic, Northeast, regional scale,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008
  • Final Report