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Discerning ExpertsThe Practices of Scientific Assessment for Environmental Policy$
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Michael Oppenheimer, Naomi Oreskes, Dale Jamieson, Keynyn Brysse, Jessica O'Reilly, Matthew Shindell, and Milena Wazeck

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226601960

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226602158.001.0001

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Assessing Acid Rain in the United States: The National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program

Assessing Acid Rain in the United States: The National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program

(p.19) Chapter Two Assessing Acid Rain in the United States: The National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program
Discerning Experts

Michael Oppenheimer

Naomi Oreskes

Dale Jamieson

Keynyn Brysse

Jessica O’Reilly

Matthew Shindell

Milena Wazeck

University of Chicago Press

The US National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program was established in 1980 to serve as both a research program and an assessment body. It is generally thought to have been successful in the former aim but not the latter; the fact that the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments were made prior to the publication of NAPAP’s final assessment is often taken as evidence that it failed to influence policy. We find that factors contributing to this perceived failure included significantly compartmentalized research (particularly between environmental scientists focused on ecosystem effects and atmospheric scientists focused on atmospheric processes), and insufficient emphasis placed on the policy-relevant assessment dimension as a consequence of institutional ties of participating scientists. However, the boundary between assessment and policy is semi-permeable: knowledge, and information needs can move in both directions, with science assessment and policy influencing each other through both formal and informal channels. NAPAP scientists and program directors contributed informally to policy-relevant discussions preceding the 1990 amendments, and may therefore have influenced the outcome. NAPAP’s Regional Atmospheric Deposition Model, seen in the policy domain as needed for regulatory purposes, was not finalized in time to influence policy, but it did advance atmospheric modelling.

Keywords:   National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, Regional Acid Deposition Model, Clean Air Act, science–policy boundary, J. Laurence Kulp

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