For any government agency, the distribution of available resources among problems or programs is crucially important. Agencies, however, typically lack a self-conscious process for examining priorities, much less an explicit method for defining what priorities should be. Worst Things First? illustrates the controversy that ensues when previously implicit administrative processes are made explicit and subjected to critical examination. It reveals surprising limitations to quantitative risk assessment as an instrument for precise tuning of policy judgments. The book also demonstrates the strength of political and social forces opposing the exclusive use of risk assessment in setting environmental priorities.
Foreword Terry Davies Preface Adam M. Finkel and Dominic Golding Part I: Introduction Conference Background and Overview 1. Should We---and Can We---Reduce the Worst Risks First? Adam M. Finkel Keynote Address 2. Rationalism and Redemocratization: Time for a Truce Alice M. Rivlin Part II: The EPA Paradigm Framing the Debate 3. EPA's Vision for Setting National Environmental Priorities F. Henry Habicht II 4. An Overview of Risk-Based Priority Setting at EPA Charles W. Kent and Frederick W. Allen 5. Integrating Science, Values, and Democracy through Comparative Risk Assessment Jonathan Lash 6. A Proposal to Address, Rather than Rank, Environmental Problems Mary O'Brien Methodological Concerns 7. Current Priority-Setting Methodology: Too Little Rationality or Too Much? Dale Hattis and Robert L. Goble 8. Quantitative Risk Ranking: More Promise Than the Critics Suggest M. Granger Morgan Procedural Concerns 9. Paradigms, Process, and Politics: Risk and Regulatory Design Donald T. Hornstein 10. Is Reducing Risk the Real Objective of Risk Management? Richard B. Belzer Implementation Concerns 11. State Concerns in Setting Environmental Priorities: Is the Risk-Based Paradigm the Best We Can Do? Victoria J. Tschinkel 12. The States: The National Laboratory for the Risk-Based Paradigm? G. Tracy Mehan III Consolidating the Discussions 13. Working Group Discussions Adam M. Finkel and Dominic Golding Part III: Three Alternative Paradigms The Prevention Paradigm 14. Pollution Prevention: Putting Comparative Risk Assessment in Its Place Barry Commoner 15. Hammers Don't Cut Wood: Why We Need Pollution Prevention and Comparative Risk Assessment John D. Graham The Environmental Justice Paradigm 16. Unequal Environmental Protection: Incorporating Environmental Justice in Decision Making Robert D. Bullard 17. Risk-Based Priorities and Environmental Justice Albert L. Nichols The Industrial Transformation Paradigm 18. An Innovation-Based Strategy for the Environment Nicholas A. Ashford 19. Promoting Innovation 'The Easy Way' James D. Wilson Part IV: Conclusions 20. Summary of Closing Panel Discussion Adam M. Finkel and Dominic Golding 21. Recurring Themes and Points of Contention Adam M. Finkel and Dominic Golding 22. Afterthoughts Adam M. Finkel Appendix