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9 Yale Journal on Regulation 277 (1992)


Scientific uncertainty is the characteristic problem of toxic substances control, and regulators lack the resources to resolve or significantly reduce uncertainty across all of the risks they must address. For this reason, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has become intensely interested in setting priorities among its responsibilities. EPA lacks, however, a coherent framework within which to implement its findings. In this Article, Professor Applegate proposes that the current regulatory regime for toxic substances be restructured to emphasize thoughtful priority setting rather than unrealistic risk standards and deadlines. In his view, Congress should provide broad parameters for agency action in particular cases, but should give specific directions to the agency for setting priorities and goals. This recommendation necessarily implicates broader issues of congressional specificity in regulatory statutes, presidential control of administrative agencies, andjudicial review in the early phases of the regulatory process. Professor Applegate explores these larger issues as they relate to his proposal and evaluates his proposal's feasibility by comparing it to legislatively mandated planning in forest management.