particularly with regard to decisions about the endpoints to be included in the analyses. On the other hand, if the scope of a problem is national, as is the case when setting an ambient air quality standard, the type of stakeholder involvement will be driven more by the statutory framework and agency procedures. For national issues, the stakeholders who provide input are often representatives of groups with special interests (e.g., industry, or advocacy organizations focused on a particular disease) in addition to—or even rather than—being community members.

Decisions applicable to a specific geographic area are well suited to the incorporation of public values. Even when the statutory directive is for the consideration of health effects, the implementation plans will often be of great interest to local communities. For this reason EPA will often solicit input on implementation plans through written comments or at hearings in order to gather public comments at locations across the country (EPA, 2012).

Identifying the effects of geographic scope on a decision in the initial, problem-formulation stage will help EPA identify important stakeholders and ensure that the variability in the perspectives can be addressed in the assessment and management phases of the decision. These concerns could affect the assessment of economic factors in particular.

Uncertainty analysis and more formal approaches to decision making have not always been applied to these factors in a systematic or rigorous way, but some of the analytic techniques described in Chapter 2 and Appendix A could be applied to them. For example, Arvai and Gregory (2003) used multiattribute utility analysis to evaluate different approaches to stakeholder involvement in a decision related to the cleanup of a contaminated site; one approach involved the presentation of scientific information, while the other involved the presentation of scientific information and “values-oriented information that seeks to improve the ability of nonexpert participants to make difficult trade-offs across a variety of technical and nontechnical concerns” (p. 1470). The importance of stakeholder engagement is discussed further below.


Agency decision-making processes that involve stakeholders, including dialogues with stakeholders about uncertainties, can demonstrate intentional transparency and create, maintain, and enhance a relationship of trust between the agency and its stakeholders.9 In addition, a growing


9 The terms used to refer to the parties that can be involved in environmental decision making are varied and include “stakeholders,” “the public,” “affected parties,” and “interested parties.” The definitions of these terms (i.e., the expertise, affiliations, and perspectives of the

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement