Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Social Sciences


Carol A MacLennan


As environmental problems became more complex, policy and regulatory decisions become far more difficult to make. The use of science has become an important practice in the decision making process of many federal agencies. Many different types of scientific information are used to make decisions within the EPA, with computer models becoming especially important. Environmental models are used throughout the EPA in a variety of contexts and their predictive capacity has become highly valued in decision making.

The main focus of this research is to examine the EPA’s Council for Regulatory Modeling (CREM) as a case study in addressing science issues, particularly models, in government agencies. Specifically, the goal was to answer the following questions: What is the history of the CREM and how can this information shed light on the process of science policy implementation? What were the goals of implementing the CREM? Were these goals reached and how have they changed? What have been the impediments that the CREM has faced and why did these impediments occur? The three main sources of information for this research came from observations during summer employment with the CREM, document review and supplemental interviews with CREM participants and other members of the modeling community.

Examining a history of modeling at the EPA, as well as a history of the CREM, provides insight into the many challenges that are faced when implementing science policy and science policy programs. After examining the many impediments that the CREM has faced in implementing modeling policies, it was clear that the impediments fall into two separate categories, classic and paradoxical. The classic impediments include the more standard impediments to science policy implementation that might be found in any regulatory environment, such as lack of resources and changes in administration. Paradoxical impediments are cyclical in nature, with no clear solution, such as balancing top-down versus bottom-up initiatives and coping with differing perceptions. These impediments, when not properly addressed, severely hinder the ability for organizations to successfully implement science policy.