Communication challenges of environmental management are magnified for uncertain policy options and trade-offs involving complex issues. A novel risk-trading option authorized by Congress for setting standards for radon levels in drinking water illustrates interactions and gaps among scholarly advice, practitioner behavior, and citizen responses, as revealed in utility-customer focus groups. The aim of the focus groups was to identify citizen-preferred options (including any not yet suggested by policy makers) and difficulties in presenting needed background information so that policy preferences are valid and reliable if elicited in the future. This commentary covers such topics as effects of knowledge, risk comparisons and information framing, values clarification, presentation of policy options and evaluation, and their implications for risk communication and policy development.
Environmental Practice 16: 113–126 (2014)