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Missing Information: Environmental Data Gaps in Conservation and Chemical Regulation

March 24, 2006
Indiana University Maurer School of Law—Bloomington
211 South Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, Indiana 47405

This conference will explore two familiar but infrequently analyzed aspects of environmental regulation: the needs for scientific information that are created and satisfied by regulatory systems, and the disjunction between the regulatory systems for the chemical and conservation areas of environmental law. The continuing existence of a severe data gap between the scientific information required for effective regulation and the information available to regulators and the public provides a valuable opportunity to uncover the causes and extent of the respective data gaps, to study in a concrete setting the differences between chemical and conservation regulatory regimes, and to use insights from each area to improve regulation in both.

The objective of the conference, therefore, is to bring together established experts in the conservation and chemical areas of environmental regulation to describe the nature, sources, and extent of the data gaps in their respective areas; to seek commonalities among areas; and, by learning from both areas, to propose regulatory reforms to narrow or bridge the data gap.

The conference will be conducted in a workshop format. Invited participants will be asked to provide a paper for publication after the conference in a symposium edition of an appropriate law journal; however, the conference itself will have participants seated around a table in dialogue, rather than formal presentations. Fischman and Applegate will contribute a draft introduction in advance of the symposium, which will set out in greater detail the theoretical structure of the conference and to which participants can react, and a concluding piece based on the discussion at the conclusion of the conference.

Conference Participants

John Applegate
Indiana University—Bloomington
Debera Backhus
Indiana University—Bloomington
A. James Barnes
Indiana University—Bloomington
William Buzbee
Emory University
Carl Cranor
University of California at Riverside
Holly Doremus
University of California at Davis
Robert Fischman
Indiana University—Bloomington
Alyson Flournoy
University of Florida
Robert Glicksman
University of Kansas
Paul Locke
Johns Hopkins University
Samuel Luoma
U.S. Geological Survey
Vicky Meretsky
Indiana University—Bloomington
Ellen Paul
The Ornithological Council
Ronald Pulliam
University of Georgia
Evan Ringquist
Indiana University—Bloomington
Rena Steinzor
University of Maryland
Wendy Wagner
University of Texas
Teresa Woods
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Conference Schedule

The schedule presents an outline. Click to see the complete abstracts.

March 24, 2006
8:30 - 8:45 a.m.


  • Rena Steinzor
  • John Applegate
  • Robert Fischman
8:45 - 10:15 a.m.


  • How does the law create the need for scientific information?
  • What are the statutory/legal objectives (harm avoidance, value enhancement) of the various types of environmental protection?
  • What are the uncertainties that each form of environmental protection encounters?
  • How do legal and scientific information needs differ?
  • Vicky Meretsky
  • Teresa Woods
  • Paul Locke
  • Alyson Flournoy
  • Samuel Luoma
10:15 - 10:30 a.m.


10:30 - noon

Information Regulation

  • How have the generally applicable requirements, such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Information Quality Act been used in the chemical and conservation areas of environmental protection?
  • Have the information requirements had an important impact on substantive implementation of environmental law?
  • How should we measure whether an information demand is constructive or counter-productive in environmental law?
  • Evan Ringquist
  • Ellen Paul
  • Wendy Wagner
Noon - 1:30 p.m.
Faculty Lounge


1:30 - 3:20 p.m.


  • How does the law generate the information that it requires?
  • What legal tools are available, and how well are they deployed?
  • What institutional capacities exist for generating information? Where is the relevant scientific expertise located?
  • Debera Backhus
  • Holly Doremus
  • Ronald Pulliam
  • Carl Cranor
  • Robert Glicksman
  • William Buzbee
3:20 - 3:35 p.m


3:35 - 4:45 p.m.

Roundtable Discussion/Conclusions

  • Are the chemical and conservation areas of environmental protection fundamentally the same or fundamentally different?
  • What does information policy say about the more general relationship between law and science in environmental protection?
  • What should be the agenda for actions to support progressive regulation?
  • How should general information requirements be used, if at all, by progressives?

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