Syllabus and Speaker Schedule for 598H
Syllabus and Speaker Schedule (pdf)
April 1April 15April 29May 13May 27

Tuesday, April 1
Topic: Nuclear waste management

Max S. Power
Nuclear Waste Program Specialist
Washington Department of Ecology




















“Uncertainties in Nuclear and Hazardous Waste Cleanup”

Suggested Reading/Web Sites:

U.S. Department of Energy’s Long Term Stewardship Study

National Research Council Report on long-term management of legacy waste sites (summary recommended)

Power, Max S. 2002. “Substantial Margin of Safety”: A New Approach to High-Level Radioactive Waste Disposition. Prepared for the Waste Management Symposium 2002 Conference, February 24-28, 2002, Tucson, Arizona (pdf)

Additional resources that may be of interest based on April 1 class discussion:

(see comment about this file)
Covello, V. and P. Sandman. "Risk Communication: Evolution and Revolution", in Wolburst A. (ed). Solutions to an Environment in Peril, Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press (2001): 164-178.

Note: The Covello and Sandman file is a .tif file. If you have trouble opening the file, download the file first using "Save Target As" and then open in an imaging program (Windows 2000 users will want to use the Microsoft Imaging Program, which is found in the Start-Programs-Acceccessories menu).

National Environmental Policy Institute. December 1999. Rolling Stewardship: Beyond Institutional Controls, Preparing Future Generations for Long-Term Environmental Cleanups. 51 pp. (pdf)

Describes “rolling stewardship” as focusing on the links needed between generations to carry long-term stewardship forward. Rolling stewardship requires a framework for stewardship decisions that can be tailored over time, and empowers each generation with greater information on stewardship tools and practices. The rationale behind this approach is that there are too many imponderables, in terms of planning for conditions many decades in the future, to make decisions today that will be effective many generations from now. Rolling stewardship allows greater flexibility, yet ensures there is an infrastructure in place to empower the next generation of decision-makers. This approach disarms the critic who harps on the infeasibility of perpetual guarantees. Instead, it focuses attention away from the imponderable future and onto practical issues that we can carry out today with some assurance of success. The test is, “Will the solution remain viable for a generation?” rather than, will it be viable for the next millennium and beyond.

Joint Institute for Energy & Environment. May 2000. Reducing the Nuclear Legacy Burden: DOE Environmental Management Strategy and Implementation. Author: Milton Russell. 60pp. JIEE-00-01. (pdf)

The author argues that DOE’s goal as agent for the public should be to minimize the joint risk and cost burden on this and future generations. He advocates switching from a physical (“cleanup”) transformation mindset to one of minimizing the legacy burden. The legacy burden includes the value of both the direct harmful effects borne and of the resources absorbed and other harms incurred in reducing such effects. This paper provides a strategy that emphasizes implementation of necessary trade offs while achieving equity within this and succeeding generations.

Yucca Mountain Project (official website)
Hanford Site (official website)

Disposition of High-Level Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel: The Continuing Societal and Technical Challenges (2001) - recent National Research Council report on high level waste

Tuesday, April 15

Topic: Forest and fire management
** Note: Class ends at 1:20 pm on this day only

Prof. Dave Peterson
Research Forester
USDA Forest Service
Pacific Northwest Research Station,
Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Professor, Forest Ecology
UW College of Forest Resources


“Fire, fuel and forest management on public lands -- will the smoke get in our eyes?”


Fuel accumulations in Western forests during the past 50+ years pose a hazard for larger and more severe fires and pose a risk for local communities and resource values. Public debate about managing fuels focuses on appropriate policy and management strategies for reducing fuels and reducing risk. Because the scientific basis for decision making is lacking, the success of proposed solutions to the "fuel problem" is uncertain, especially in the face of litigation and regulatory constraints.

Suggested Reading:

Pollet, J. and P.N. Omi. 2002. Effect of thinning and prescribed burning on wildfire severity in ponderosa pine forests. International Journal of Wildland Fire 11:1-10

UW Libraries link:

Tuesday, April 29

Topic: Uncertainty in Federal Level Policy Making

Prof. David Harrison
Former Senior Policy Advisor to
Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell
Senior Lecturer
Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs


"Uncertainty in Federal Level Policy Making"

Synopsis/Suggested Reading:

Prof. Harrison distributed the following for students at the seminar:
"Thinking Strategically about Adoption and Implementation", Chapter 13 in Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice by David L. Weimer and Aidan R. Vining.

If you would like a copy of the chapter, please contact Lara Whitely Binder.

Tuesday, May 13

Topic: Managing Fish and Water in Urban Water Supplies

George Schneider
Water Supply Manager
Seattle Public Utilities

Bruce Bachen
Senior Fish Biologist
Seattle Public Utilities

Rand Little
Senior Fish Biologist
Seattle Public Utilities









“Addressing uncertainty in managing the water and instream resources of the Cedar River: The need to balance certainty and flexibility.”

• George Schneider's presentation: "Uncertainty and the Management of the Cedar River"
• Rand Little's presentation: "Cedar River Instream Flow Management: Balancing Certainty and Flexibility"
• Bruce Bachen's presentation: "Decisions in the Face of Uncertainty: Cedar River Sockeye Hatchery Proposed Adaptive Management Plan"

Sustainable management of human altered ecosystems is a significant challenge. Our efforts to manage these complex systems are often hampered by substantial uncertainty and a general tendency toward inaction. We sometimes find ourselves implementing relatively rash actions supported by insufficient information. Or conversely, when faced with seemingly insurmountable uncertainty, we tend to preserve the status quo and avoid decisive actions. Neither of these pathways is likely to lead to improved natural resource management practices in human-altered ecosystems. Three of Seattle Public Utilities' resource managers will provide examples of Seattle’s efforts to find constructive pathways in managing natural resources in the Cedar River Basin. The areas of focus are managing around hydrologic uncertainty; development of an instream flow regime that works for multiple species; and creation of a sockeye salmon supplementation program that employs adaptive management to help integrate the program with the natural ecosystem.

Suggested Reading:

For more information on SPU and the Cedar River watershed, please visit:

For more information on SPU's Cedar River Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan, please visit:

For a summary of current water supply conditions in the Cedar and Tolt River watersheds, please visit:

Recommended Link (temporary):

The following UW instream flow workshop was recommended by Rand Little. The workshop is May 28 and May 29.

Tuesday, May 27

Topic: Uncertainty in environmental policy settings

Matt Steuerwalt
Policy Analyst
Washington State Attorney General’s Office










"Navigating with Insufficient Information"  

In many circumstances, policy makers and negotiators are forced to make decisions under very short time horizons. When do we know enough to know what to do? Presentation includes examples from the energy and telecommunications markets.

Suggested Reading:

The following links will take you to the suggested readings, which will be used for the basis of some conversations. They are all short and are intended
to be read mostly as examples of types of risks, tolerances, and strategies for managing uncertainty, and only secondarily for the specific circumstances (although we can talk about those too in some cases).

On the durability of decisions, see:

On certainty of delivery, financial risk and tools, flexibility v. certainty, see:
(please past this link into your browser; note the text wrapping)

On balancing competing technical recommendations and risks, see:

On risk management & risk tolerance, see:

On risk mitigation, health and safety risks:

On trade-offs, and the distribution of risks, see:

Please remember that your summary essay is due by 12:00 pm on Friday, June 6. Please see "Seminar Requirements" on the home page for more information.