Arguments and their effects - A case study on drafting the legislation on the environmental impacts of peat extraction in Finland
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CitationAiraksinen, Jussi. Albrecht, Eerika. (2019). Arguments and their effects - A case study on drafting the legislation on the environmental impacts of peat extraction in Finland. Journal of cleaner production, 226, 1004-1012. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.161.
This article analyses the impact of stakeholder participation in the drafting process of the Environmental Protection Act, which regulates the licensing of peat extraction in Finland. The article contributes to research on the impact of stakeholder participation in regulatory processes, which is a generally underexplored field of study, and seeks to identify which arguments affected the end result. Furthermore, it addresses whether the legislative drafter took into account influential arguments as a result of rational choice arrived at by means of adequate reasoning and under conditions of procedural transparency. Finally, it analyses how these arguments reflect the attitudes of stakeholders towards the objective and dynamics of the public hearing process. The paper presents a qualitative and quantitative argumentation analysis, which consists of an argument typology, together with analysis both of the feasibility of different arguments and the frequency with which they were employed and of the realisation of different viewpoints on the draft. The analysis shows stakeholders’ statements had significant effectiveness but that the weight given to different arguments was unbalanced. In conclusion, it seems that frequently used arguments were ignored without reasons being given but that rarely used arguments that seem difficult to apply had an influence on the process. Moreover, stakeholders that supported the objective of the Act used arguments that could not be easily taken into account while still achieving the objective of the Act. Meanwhile, arguments indicating problems that were easy to fix in the draft were used to oppose the objective of the Act per se. Consequently, there was no clear consensus among stakeholders as to whether the public hearing process should be understood as amounting to aggregative bargaining or integrative deliberation. Based on these findings, it is suggested that participatory processes in legislative drafting should be developed to foster horizontal dialogue between stakeholders.