ment, how people respond to interventions that are designed to alter human behavior to achieve desired social and environmental goals, and how specific policies can be implemented within the constraints of legal rights and strongly held, diverse cultural values.
In recognition of that need, it is evident that contributions from the social, economic, behavioral, and decision sciences are crucial for meeting legislative and executive mandates and finding pathways to fulfill EPA’s mission sustainably (that is, cost-effectively and equitably and with the greatest prevention effects). Social, economic, behavioral, and decision scientists have the knowledge and expertise to produce analyses that augment traditional health and ecosystem studies to inform policy-makers and stakeholders of the potential economic and social effects of policy decisions. Such analyses have the potential to elucidate the selection of the best solutions not only for the environment but for society as a whole. Spatially explicit assessments of the effects of policies on wages, employment opportunities, and environmental exposures are crucial for understanding the distribution of the benefits and costs of policies and associated community effects by income class, race, and other characteristics relevant to equity and environmental justice (see, for example, Geoghegan and Gray 2005).
Social, economic, behavioral, and decision scientists can help decision-makers to identify unintended environmental or social consequences of public policies such as through the use of predictive economic modeling integrated with environmental modeling. One example is the identification of adverse effects of economically induced land-use changes that resulted from ethanol and renewable-energy policies on nutrient pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (Searchinger et al. 2008; Hellerstein and Malcolm 2011; Secchi et. al. 2011). The effectiveness of environmental policies can be improved if the heterogeneity of humans, the implications of land use, transportation, and other policies affecting the environment, and general equilibrium feedbacks in economic systems are taken into account (Greenstone and Gayer 2007; Kuminoff et al. 2010; Abbott and Klaiber 2011). Providing such information to decision-makers could avoid unintended environmental or social outcomes of regulations and policies. In addition, social, economic, behavioral, and decision scientists have the knowledge and expertise to analyze consumer and business behavior to find less expensive, more effective, and fairer ways to achieve environmental goals (both in the context of existing legislation and in the context of fundamental policy innovations). For example, research with agent-based simulation models (Roth 2002; Duffy 2006; Tesfatsion and Judd 2006; Zhang and Zhang 2007; Parker and Filatova 2008) and laboratory and field experiments (Roth 2002; Suter et al. 2008) are sources of new economic insights for policy instrument design.
For EPA, social, economic, behavioral, and decision science skills can enhance several types of activities that support decisions, including regulatory impact assessments mandated by Executive Order 12866 and others, estimates of economic and social benefits and costs associated with alternative courses of action, and valuation of health benefits and ecosystem services to inform benefit—cost analysis. EPA has made some strides in improving its efforts in this re-