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KEEPING PACE WITH SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING CASE STUDIES IN ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION Myron F. Uman Editor National Academy of Engineering NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1993
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NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS · 2101 Constitution Ave., NW · Washington, DC 20418 The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievement of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. Funds for the National Academy of Engineering's work on technology and environment were provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Academy's Technology Agenda Program. This volume consists of papers and speakers' remarks presented during a sympo- sium entitled "Environmental Regulation: Accommodating Changing Scientific, Engineering, and Economic Understanding," held 11 - 12 February 1993. The interpretations and conclusions expressed in the symposium papers are those of the authors and are not presented as the views of the council, officers, or staff of the National Academy of Engineering. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Keeping pace with science and engineering: case studies in environmental regulation / Myron F. Uman, editor; National Academy ~ . . 01 engineering, p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-04938-5 1. Environmental engineering Case studies. I. Uman, Myron F., 1939- . II. National Academy of Engineering. TD153.K44 1993 363.73'7 dc20 93-5530 CIP Copyright 1993 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Cover art: Large Fringe, courtesy of the artist, Louise H. Spindel, Falls Church, Virginia, 1993. Printed in the United States of America
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SYMPOSIUM STEERING COMMITTEE CHARLES R. O'MELIA, Chairman, Professor of Environmental Engineering, Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University J. CLARENCE (TERRY) DAVIES, Director, Center for Risk Management, Resources for the Future, Inc., Washington, D.C. ROBERT C. FORNEY, Retired Executive Vice President, E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc., Unionville, Pennsylvania ROGER O. McCLELLAN, D.V.M., President, Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina M. GRANGER MORGAN, Professor and Head, Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University PAUL R. PORTNEY, Vice President and Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future, Inc., Washington, D.C. JOHN H. SEINFELD, Louis E. Nohl Professor and Chairman, Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology Staff MYRON F. UMAN, Project Officer DEANNA J. RICHARDS, NAE Senior Program Officer TERRIE NOBLE, Administrative Assistant . . .
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Preface Decision making for environmental regulation involves a number of steps in which scientific and engineering data are gathered and analyzed for the purpose of assessing the risks, benefits, and costs of alternative courses of action. For parties with interests in the ultimate decisions, including the regulatory authorities, other governmental bodies, and private organizations, describing the state of understanding of risks, costs, and benefits is vitally important. While technical understanding generally will not exclusively determine the outcome of the regulatory process, this information is central to assessing the risks and devising alternative mitigating strategies, if any, from which the decision-making process may choose. No one would argue that environmental regulation, if not determined by the beset scientific and engineering understanding, should not at least be based on it. In a typical case, the scientific and engineering information that is available about a particular environmental issue is vigorously debated among the parties at interest and within the government. Eventually decisions are taken, often after intense bargaining or negotiation about the applicability or interpretation of data. The process can be difficult, complex, time-con- suming, and agonizing, particularly for the ultimate decision maker. The results of the decision-making processes are regulations that serve to implement the respective laws under which authority the regulations are issued. Ideally, the regulations reflect in some way our best technical un- derstanding at the times at which the particular decisions were made. A fundamental characteristic of scientific and engineering knowledge, however, is that our understanding may change as new data become avail v
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Vl PREFACE able. Research and development are undertaken to create new data. For example, the latest diagnostic techniques are developed to obtain ever more sensitive measurements; the results are more detailed, presumably reflecting better understanding of the occurrence of substances in the environment as well as their effects. Thus, as long as research and development continue, circumstances will inevitably arise in which the technical basis for specific regulatory decisions will be superseded by better understanding that calls into question the continued validity of the basis of earlier decisions. Examples, taken from the daily news, abound: asbestos, chlorofluoro- carbons, dioxin, lead, radon, tropospheric ozone, disinfection of drinking water, and more. In some cases, the latest information suggests that risks are less severe than previously thought; it now appears, for example, that the risks associated with exposure to asbestos dust depend on the type of asbestos, information not available at the time current regulations governing asbestos were adopted. In other cases, new data indicate that risks are greater than previously thought; such has been the case with the history of our understanding of the consequences of exposure to lead. Many environmental laws recognize the changing nature of the techni- cal understanding of environmental problems. Some provisions authorize research and development programs as means for improving the basis for regulation over time while others were intended by their framers to provide incentives for the development of improved, more cost-effective technol- ogy, which can also change the base of data on which regulatory decisions are founded. The Clean Air Act, for example, provides a regular schedule for recon- sidering the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, inherently assuming continuous improvement in our understanding of the sources, fates, and effects of the criteria pollutants. Several pieces of legislation incorporate technology-based provisions, such as by requiring the regulatory authorities to identify the best available or most cost-effective emissions or effluent- control technologies or the best monitoring techniques, which holders of permits must then employ. It is apparent, however, that reconsidering earlier decisions in light of new technical understanding has proven in practice to be as daunting a challenge as the original decision making itself, if not more so. The ambi- ent air quality standards have not been reviewed as required by statute, and evidence is scant that the various technology-based performance standards have provided incentives for innovation as their respective authors antici- pated. Why? How does the environmental regulatory system, in practice, take account of changes in technical understanding? Does experience suggest the existence of thresholds that act as barriers to reconsideration of earlier regulatory decisions? What factors influence administrative decisions to . -
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PREFACE . . V11 undertake reconsiderations? When might constancy be more important than revision? Does the system work as well as might be expected, or are improvements warranted? This volume is based on a symposium organized to address these and similar questions about the ability of the regulatory system to respond to changing technical understanding of risks, benefits, and costs. The sympo- sium was organized under the direction of a steering committee appointed by the National Academy of Engineering. Names and biographical sketches of the committee members are included elsewhere in this volume. The symposium focused on practical experience as detailed in a series of case studies commissioned for this purpose. The introduction is based on the text of the keynote address, delivered by Robert M. White, president of the National Academy of Engineering. The bulk of this volume comprises the case studies, revised by their respective authors in light of the discus- sions among participants in the symposium. The volume also contains two additional essays. One, by Richard D. Morgenstern, director of the Office of Policy Analysis of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is on the interplay between science and regulation. The other, summarizing lessons learned from the case studies and discussions at the symposium, was pre- pared by J. Clarence (Terry) Davies, a member of the steering committee. Both essays are written versions of talks presented orally at the symposium. The case studies were selected by the steering committee to range across a broad spectrum of environmental issues and to illustrate regulatory ap- proaches under laws dealing with air quality, water quality, safe drinking water, and hazardous substances. The objective was to draw lessons from across the particular examples to illuminate the more general issues. The case studies included examples of decision making for exposures (by-prod- ucts of the disinfection of drinking water, dioxin, formaldehyde), for com- pliance with ambient standards (tropospheric ozone, surface water quality), and for the performance of technology (municipal waste combustion). In addition, one case study, on acid precipitation, was commissioned to exam- ine the relationships between a dedicated federal research program and the development of regulatory policy through legislation. The symposium, held in Washington, D.C., on 11-12 February 1993, was sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering as part of a series of activities in its program on Technology and the Environment. The steer- ing committee identified the topics for the case studies, supervised their preparation, obtained peer reviews of the resulting papers, and organized the symposium. The committee also asked a number of people to serve as discussants for the respective papers to stimulate comments, observations, and critiques by participants at the symposium. On behalf of our colleagues on the steering committee, we wish to extend special thanks to the case study authors and the discussants. The -
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~ . . V111 PREFACE authors are identified with their papers. The discussants were William F. O'Keefe of the American Petroleum Institute, Louis E. Sage of the Acad- emy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, B. Kent Burton of the Integrated Waste Services Association, R. Rhodes Trussel of James M. Montgomery Engineering, Frank Mirer of the United Auto Workers, and Dwain Winters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We also wish to express our sincere appreciation to the National Acad- emy of Engineering for its leadership and financial support and to its able program staff for facilitating our work and shouldering the administrative and editorial burdens involved in bringing the symposium and this book to life. We are specially indebted to Deanna Richards, senior program officer for technology and environment, and Terrie Noble, administrative officer for the symposium. Charles O'Melia Chairman, Steering Committee - Myron F. Uman Project Officer and Editor
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Contents Introduction Robert M. White 1 Nutrient Loadings to Surface Waters: Chesapeake Bay Case Study 8 Thomas C. Malone, Walter Boynton, Tom Horton, and Court Stevenson Tropospheric Ozone Philip M. Roth, Stephen D. Ziman, and James D. Fine Municipal Waste Combustion and New Source Performance Standards: Use of Scientific and Technical Information Suellen W. Pirages and Jason E. Johnston Trihalomethanes and Other By-Products Formed by Chlorination of Drinking Water Philip C. Singer Acid Deposition James L. Regens Formaldehyde Science: From the Laboratory to the Regulatory Arena Susan W. Putnam and John D. Graham 39 141 165 189
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The Dioxin TCDD: A Selectee Study of Science and Policy Interaction 7~ 4. Afoore, R~ ad. fig, ~d AffcA~' Oo~6 Science, Engineering, and Regulabon RfcA~d at. Afor~e~ Environmental Regulabon and Technical Change: Overview and Observations /. C/~ ~rf~ Biographical gala Abbreviations Index at. 221 243 251 boa 270 273
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KE E Pi NG PAC E WITH SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING l ,. -