Teaching Case - Ruckelshaus and Acid Rain

Ruckelshaus and Acid Rain


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  • Product Description

    After being publicly charged by President Reagan to meet the problem of acid rain "head-on," the new EPA administrator spent much of his first six months in office tackling the issue. This case examines the political and management strategies he used to determine the best scientific and politically most palatable proposal. It also describes how Ruckelshaus' plan was ultimately defeated by an attack from the Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman, who argued that the plan would cost a minimum of $6,000 per pound of fish protected. Insight into the views and thinking of both Ruckelshaus and high-level White House staff provides a juxtaposition of opinions on how the Ruckelshaus proposal ultimately played out.What might William Ruckelshaus have done differently to increase the chances the Reagan administration would adopt a more ambitious acid rain policy? Was the president well served by the decision-making process described in this case? These are some of the questions raised by the case. More generally, the case illustrates the different ways in which a manager can use an issue-e.g., to achieve a substantive policy goal, to alter the public's perception of an agency, to enhance one's personal image, to promote the administration's image--and the potential conflict between those uses. Other teaching objectives of the case include the following: 1) to provide a better appreciation of the "bargaining process" between prospective employer (in this case, Reagan) and employee (Ruckelshaus); 2) to highlight the fact that tactical and strategic considerations more than substance may determine the success of advocacy in the political process; 3) to increase understanding of a multi-agency decision-making process; 4) to challenge conventional notions of what constitutes "success" and "failure" in government.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 01, 1986
    HKS Case Number: 658.0
    Case Author: Don Lippincott
    Faculty Lead: Philip Heymann and Marc Roberts
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 24
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    _year: Older than 2000
    _pages: 16-25
    _geography: US & Canada
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