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The Life Cycles of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency1970 - 2035$
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James K. Conant and Peter J. Balint

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190203702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190203702.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 15 June 2021

The Future of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency: 2015–2035

The Future of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency: 2015–2035

Chapter:
7 (p.121) The Future of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency: 2015–2035
Source:
The Life Cycles of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency
Author(s):

James K. Conant

Peter J. Balint

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190203702.003.0010

In this chapter, we consider possible futures for the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under several scenarios. Before beginning, we offer some caveats and disclaimers. “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” This quotation—often credited to physicist Niels Bohr—captures the dilemma of prediction by stating it as a truism. Statistician Nate Silver, who won fame for accurately forecasting the 2008 and 2012 U.S. presidential elections, argues that in general the record of prognostication in public affairs, the field encompassing the ideas in this book, is particularly poor. For example, in the late 1980s few specialists predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, an event of enormous scale and importance that appears in hindsight to have been imminent and inevitable. More recently on the domestic front political experts generally failed to foresee the rise of the Tea Party, which has roiled the last three American electoral cycles and generated a significant rightward pull on the Republican Party and on U.S. politics more broadly. Psychologist Phillip Tetlock, who examined the record of expert predictions in the arena of public affairs, reports poor results. In his research he found that “expertise . . . had no across-the-board effect on forecasting accuracy.” He observed that egregious prediction errors are surprisingly common, even among experts whose prediction skills are otherwise rated as better than average. About 10 percent of the time events actually occurred that these higher-performing experts had estimated to be impossible, while about 20 percent of the time events failed to occur that these experts had estimated to be sure things. The results were 10 percentage points worse in both directions for the poorer-performing experts in Tetlock’s studies. Given these findings, the predictive limitations of the agency life cycle models we consider in this book are not surprising.

Keywords:   Allowances, Battered agency syndrome, Command-and-control, Emissions-trading program, Hindcasting, Nitrogen oxide emissions, Ozone ambient air pollution, Particulate matter, Rules-and-deterrence

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