Ambiguous policy language

“…as is feasible…”
“…as nearly as practicable…”
“…as needed…”

Environmental policy language of this sort creates loopholes that undermine the strength of regulation. The problem is a lack of consensus on the meaning of terms like “feasibility” and “practicability.” What we have here is a Confucian problem of naming; the meaning of labels like “feasible” and “practicable” hinge upon the values of the interpreter. We ought to openly discuss these underlying values, but more to the point, we should avoid wording of this sort in policy language so that regulations are enforceable. At a principle level this is a contest of values, and at a policy level it is a problem of enforcement.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s