Environmental Policy & Decisionmaking

Barges traveling up the Mississippi River towards New Orleans, Louisiana

Barges traveling up the Mississippi River towards New Orleans, Louisiana

photo by CampPhoto / Getty Images

Researchers in the RAND Community Health and Environmental Policy Program have long examined the positive and negative effects of human activities on the environment as well as policy interventions to enhance, reduce, or avoid those effects. This includes research on air and water quality, water availability, land management, and climate change. In addition, RAND research examines the connections between the environment and other policy issues such as infrastructure and health.

A central focus of RAND’s work on environmental policy is to use research and analysis to support decisionmaking by policymakers on current and emerging environmental challenges at local, national, and global levels. To this end, RAND developed the methodology of Robust Decision Making (RDM) to address complex issues like climate change and natural resources management. RAND's use of RDM and other methods has helped governments and stakeholders in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and understand the effects of environmental regulation.

Environmental Policy

Addressing environmental challenges requires some degree of environmental decisionmaking and regulation. RAND researchers specialize in developing placed-based solutions to environmental challenges that are transferable to other contexts and scales.

  • Water line repair in a city street

    Pittsburgh's Options to Address Lead in Its Water

    Jun 27, 2017

    Pittsburgh is struggling to manage and improve its aging water system, with a focus on elevated lead levels for many customers. What steps could help steer the city toward a permanent solution and protect future generations?

  • The Eiffel Tower is seen in front of the Sacre Coeur Basilica on Montmartre in Paris, France, during the 2015 World Climate Change Conference

    The Big Bet: Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement

    Jun 2, 2017

    America's formal withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement could have far-reaching consequences for U.S. global leadership on many issues, not just on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Steam rises from the coal-fired Jim Bridger power plant outside Rock Springs, Wyoming, April 5, 2017

    Impact on the Environment from President Trump's First 100 Days

    May 4, 2017

    President Trump's actions have not yet resulted in demonstrable change in environmental conditions or funding. But the groundwork is being laid to unwind major regulations and diminish staff at the EPA and other federal agencies with climate-related research in their portfolios.

  • Miami skyline at night

    Urban Responses to Climate Change

    Dec 7, 2016

    More than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas. Thus, cities lie at the epicenter of America's response to climate change. Analysis can inform how cities choose strategies and allocate resources.

Applications of Robust Decision Making

RAND researchers developed the methodology of Robust Decision Making (RDM) specifically to help inform policymakers on the topic of climate change. RDM has proven useful for coastal planning in Louisiana, water use regulation in Colorado and California.

  • A view of  downtown Pittsburgh, the Sixth Street Bridge, and the Allegheny River


    Robust Stormwater Management in the Pittsburgh Region

    Apr 24, 2017

    The city of Pittsburgh and its surrounding region face significant—and potentially growing—stormwater management challenges. Analysis can help better understand the system's vulnerabilities and identify solutions.

  • High-tech analysis

    Journal Article

    Climate and Energy Analysis: Reinvigorating the Scenario Technique

    Feb 4, 2016

    Scenarios are widely used for long-term climate and energy analysis, but scenario developers and users typically capture only a subset of future uncertainties. By adopting three focal points as part of this methodology, researchers can expand uncertainty consideration and gather user-specific insights.

  • Parker Dam impounds Colorado River water into Lake Havasu, where it is pumped into the Colorado Aqueduct for delivery to Southern California, April 16, 2015.


    How Should Water Professionals Invest in Resilience?

    Jul 12, 2017

    Water professionals can think about building resilience as a process of embracing and managing future uncertainty. Rather than trying to predict which problem to plan for, researchers help planners consider a wide range of potential scenarios.