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Focus Areas

Environmental Policy

Helping guide public action in a resilient, economically sound, and environmentally just direction

The long and continuous history of RTI’s environmental scientists, engineers, and economists have provided governments and private sector agencies with a unique understanding of environmental issues and policies proposed at the federal and state level. We are working at all stages of the environmental policy process, from legislative analyses to scientific assessments, to final regulatory impact assessments (RIAs). This depth of experience is grounded in decades of work supporting regulatory development for the U.S EPA, international environmental agencies, and NGOs. RTI has contributed to the development of EPA guidance manuals and best practices for conducting RIAs and National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) evaluation.

Environmental policy is typically evaluated in terms of cost-benefit analyses where society agrees to take action if social benefits are greater than the costs of implementation. However, these can be difficult to define and value, and who receives the benefits relative to who bears the cost leads to complex environmental justice issues. 

Projecting human behavior and technology change into the future, which is required for most environmental policy analysis, can be fraught with uncertainty and subject to a wide range of opinions and interpretations. This is especially evident in the context of climate change, where environmental policy design must consider socio-economic impacts of mitigation and adaptation activities over space and time.

The regulatory process for implementing environmental policy and regulations is similarly complex. Not only must policy makers consider how industry and individuals will respond to new incentives or constraints under the policy; they must also evaluate how those responses may differ among small and large businesses, households at varying socioeconomic levels, and perspectives among different geographic regions.  


RTI’s team of scientists, engineers, and economists have decades of experience providing research which span all stages of environmental policy analysis including integrated science assessments, risk/exposure analyses, economic modeling, statistical analysis, small business impact assessment and environmental justice reviews. Our environmental policy research has provided the foundation for policy roadmaps and environmental regulations. This research leverages analytical tools including:  

  • A suite of in-house and publicly available models which integrate economy-wide modeling with spatial analysis to conduct environmental policy assessments, including RTI general equilibrium models RTI ADAGE ® and  ARTIMAS ®. 
  • An array of global and localized simulation frameworks to evaluate environmental issues involving the land-based sectors of the economy including agriculture and forestry 
  • Geographical analytics expertise to link economic land use impacts to ecological and recreational use outcomes

These evaluation tools allow for a wholistic evaluation of the economic, environmental, and societal outcomes of environmental policy, either prospective or retrospective. 

While most researchers will agree that environmental issues are among the most serious threats to the well-being of future generations, there is rarely agreement on how to address them. Well-intended governments and individuals can have valid reasons for recommending wildly different environmental policies based on economic, social, and geopolitical situations.