FIGURE 1-2 Factors considered in EPA’s decisions.
NOTE: The legal context of a decision—that is, the statutory requirements and constraints in the nation’s environmental laws—shapes the overall decision-making process, with general directives relating to data expectations, schedules and deadlines, public participation, and other considerations. That legal context also, to a large extent, determines the other factors that EPA considers in its decisions, in particular, human health risks, technological, and economical factors. At the same times those laws allow considerable discretion in the development and implementation of environmental regulations. The figure is modeled after a figure in A Risk-Characterization Framework for Decision Making at the Food and Drug Administration (NRC, 2011). Other factors, although more challenging to quantify, can also play a role in EPA’s decisions, including social factors, such as environmental justice, and the political context.

The uncertainty in those other factors can be difficult, if not impossible, to quantify, and therefore the analysis of that uncertainty will not be discussed in depth in this report. Nevertheless, that uncertainty can influence EPA’s decisions and, as discussed in Chapters 5, 6, and 7, it is important that decision makers are aware of those factors and are transparent about how those factors influenced a decision.

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