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Taylor & Francis
Environmental Policy Paradox / Edition 6

Environmental Policy Paradox / Edition 6

by Zachary A. Smith


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 2900205855888
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 02/29/2012
Edition description: NE
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Zachary A. Smith is Regents’ Professor of Environmental and Natural Resources Policy and Administration in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University.

Table of Contents

Preface     xi
Abbreviations     xv
About the Author     xix
The Poljcy-Making Process
Ecosystem Interdependence     1
The Steady State     4
Common Pool Resources     4
Summary     5
Notes     6
Changing Cultural and Social Beliefs: From Conservation to Environmentalism     7
Dominant Social Paradigm     7
Economics and Growth     8
The Role of Religion     11
Science and Technology: Our Views of Nature     12
Toward Better Science Policy     15
History of the Environmental Movement     16
Dominance     16
Early Awakening     16
Early Conservationist     17
Later Conservationist     17
The Reawakening     18
Complacency     19
The Little Reagan Revolution     19
Post-Reagan Resurgence     19
Interest Groups     20
Public Opinion and the Environment     22
Demographics     24
Elections     25
Environmental Discourse     26
Survivalism     27
Prometheans     27
Administrative Rationalism     28
Democratic Pragmatism     28
Economic Rationalism     29
Sustainable Development     29
Ecological Modernization     30
Green Romanticism     30
Green Rationalism     31
Summary     31
Notes     32
The Regulatory Environment     36
The Regulatory Context     36
Science and Risk Analysis     37
Unanticipated Consequences     39
Cost-Benefit Analysis     40
The Role of Government     41
Approaches to Regulation     43
Fundamentals of Environmental Law     45
Summary     47
Notes     48
The Political and Institutional Setting     49
The Institutional Setting     49
Formal Institutions     49
Informal Institutions     52
Institutional Biases     55
Incrementalism     55
Decentralization     56
Short-Term Bias     56
Ideological Bias     57
Private Nature of Public Policy Making     58
Crisis and Reforms     58
The Political Setting      60
Pluralism     60
The Regulators     64
Summary     80
Notes     81
Environmental Policy
Air     85
Sources     85
Health Effects     88
Motor Vehicles     90
Air Pollution: Law, Regulations, and Enforcement     93
Regulatory Innovations     96
Regulatory Issues     99
Toxic Air Pollution     101
Acid Rain     104
Stratospheric Ozone     108
The Greenhouse Effect (Global Warming)     113
Summary     118
Notes     118
Water     126
Sources     127
Nonpoint Sources of Pollution     129
Groundwater Pollution     130
Health Effects of Water Pollution     131
Water Law and Regulation     132
Clean Water Act     132
The CWA and Nonpoint Pollution Sources     134
The CWA and the Regulatory Environment     134
Safe Drinking Water Act     136
Criticisms of Water Pollution Policy     138
The Paradox in Water Pollution Policy     140
Summary      144
Notes     144
Energy     149
History of Energy     151
Industrial Revolution     151
Oil and War     151
Role of Personal Consumption     152
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the Oil Crises     153
Development of Nuclear Power     156
Development of a National Energy Policy     157
Nonrenewable Energy Sources     161
Coal     161
Oil     163
Natural Gas     164
Geothermal Energy     164
Nuclear Power     165
Renewable Energy     166
Hydropower     167
Solar Power     168
Wind Power     169
Biomass     170
Conservation and Energy Efficiency: Some Suggestions for the Future     172
Conservation in Homes and Buildings     173
Conservation in Transportation     174
Conservation in Industry     175
Obstacles to Conservation     176
An Ecological Conclusion     177
Summary     178
Notes     178
Toxic and Hazardous Waste     189
Solid Waste     190
What Is Solid Waste?     190
Scope of the Problem     191
Disposal Methods     192
Regulations     193
Solutions     194
Hazardous Wastes     198
Nature of the Problem     198
Disposal Methods     200
Federal Regulations     204
Regulatory Problems     208
The Policy Paradox in Hazardous Waste Management     211
Summary     214
Notes     214
Land Management Issues     222
Local Land-Use Planning     222
Types of Land-Use Planning     223
Urban Planning     224
Smart Growth     226
Soil Erosion     228
Farmland Conversion     229
Desertification     231
Federal Land Management     231
Multiple-Use     232
Recreation     233
Fee Demonstration Project     233
Commercial Recreation Permits and Concessions     233
Fire Management     234
Roadless Areas     235
Wilderness     235
History     235
Proposed Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas     237
National Park Service Management     239
Endangered Species     240
Ecosystem Management     244
Summary     246
Notes     246
International Environmental Issues     253
Population and Food Production     254
Desertification and Food Production     259
Global Pollution     260
The Ozone Layer     260
The Greenhouse     262
Deforestation     264
Ocean Pollution     265
Less Developed Countries: North Vs. South     266
International Conflict     268
Summary     270
Notes     271
International Environmental Management     275
International Environmentalism     275
Alternative Political Systems     277
Market-Based Economies     277
Collective Ownership Systems     278
Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union     278
China     280
International Environmental Management     281
Common Pool Resources     282
Creation of an IGO     283
Economic Globalization and the Second Industrial Revolution     285
International Regulatory Efforts      287
Controlling Oceanic Pollution     287
Atmospheric Conventions     288
Hazardous Waste Control at the International Level     290
Protection of Endangered and Threatened Species     290
Trends in the International Regulatory Process     291
Summary     292
Notes     292
Conclusion     296
Notes     299
How We Study Public Policy-Theoretical Approaches     300
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as Amended     308
Index     316


The policy-making process described in many public policy and American government texts reveals just the tip of the iceberg. This book, designed for courses on environmental policy, environmental studies, and public policy and as supplemental reading in American government, public administration and planning, and other courses, exposes the rest of the iceberg: the workings of government that are rarely visible but necessary for an appreciation of the formation of environmental policy. It examines U.S. environmental policy in air, water, land use, agriculture, energy, waste disposal, and other areas, and, in so doing, provides an introduction to the policy-making process in the United States.

A paradox is an apparently contradictory combination of opposing ideas. The paradox of environmental policy is that we often understand what the best short- and long-term solutions to environmental problems are, yet the task of implementing these solutions is either left undone or is completed too late. Although this is a general characteristic of policy formation in the United States, it is particularly true of environmental policy. The explanation lies in the nature of the policy-making process. A few broad examples will illustrate the nature of the environmental policy paradox.

Problems of farming and food production in the United States include the loss of topsoil due to soil erosion, the loss of soil productivity, and the overuse of pesti~1des and fertilizers. Although opinions vary, there is strong evidence that a shift to organic farming would increase farm income and reduce soil erosion and nutrient depletion while meeting American food needs and reducing oilimports. Most people who study the matter feel we would be better off in the long run converting to organic farming. However, regardless of the potential benefits of organic farming, the incentives operating on policy makers, which include, for example, the money and influence of the manufacturers of pesticides, make it difficult to make significant changes in U.S. farm policy. That is what we call a paradox of environmental policy.

Energy provides another good example. Although estimates vary as to how long fossil fuels will last, there is widespread agreement that a transition must be made from fossil to renewable fuels. This transition will have a significant impact on our economic, social, cultural, and political lives. The paradox is that today little is being done in the public sector to prepare for this change.

Any examination of environmental policy must begin with a discussion of the setting in which policy is formulated. No simple explanations or definitions can completely convey why or why not a given policy comes into being. Limitations on human comprehension, as well as in the quality and extent of information available, make it difficult to fully understand the cause-and-effect relationships in public policy formation.

This book, nevertheless, provides a basic understanding of why some environmental ideas shape policy while others do not. We describe the formal institutional setting in which environmental policy is developed, the major participants involved, and the political and institutional incentives that motivate those attempting to influence the policy-formation system. Through an understanding of the informal political and institutional incentives that influence policy formation, the reader will be able to see that the system, though complex and uncertain, does respond to appropriate inputs. It is important to know how the system works because only when we understand how the game is played can we affect changes in the system.


The book is divided into two parts. Part One, The Policy-Making Process, provides an overview of how governmental policy is made in the United States. It emphasizes informal and noninstitutional aspects of the process and the incentives in the policy-making process that direct participant behavior. Also, Part One examines the rise of environmentally based litigation in the United States. Specifically we discuss the legal processes that come into play when citizens pursue environmental policy goals in the courts. This in an important consideration because, as we will see, often the courts are the only policy avenue available to groups, like many environmental groups, that lack the resources needed to have influence in other policy-making arenas—like legislative bodies.

Before delving into the policy-making process of environmental policy, however, Chapter 1 introduces ecosystems and the study of ecology, thus setting the stage for the chapters that follow. Good environmental policy is based on an understanding of how the physical environment works. Chapter 1 also provides a general discussion of the interdependence of ecosystems and explains the need to evaluate environmental policy from a multidisciplinary perspective. The complexity of ecosystem interdependence requires, in many cases, an international or global perspective.

Chapter 2 explores the relationship of our dominant social paradigm (those clusters of Western cultural beliefs, values, and ideals that influence our thinking about society, government, and individual responsibility) to environmental policy formation. The chapter also summarizes the history of the environmental movement and public opinion about environmental problems—two important components of the Western industrial dominant social paradigm.

Chapter 3 examines the regulatory environment in the environmental policy area. This discussion includes an examination of the current regulatory framework in the United States, various regulatory alternatives that have been suggested, and some of the assumptions that underlie current thinking about appropriate environmental regulations.

Chapter 4 examines the institutional setting of the policy-making process. The incentives operating on participants in the process and the role of interest groups are discussed along with advantages certain policy-making participants enjoy when attempting to influence environmental policy. These incentives include the short-term incentives available to policymakers for evaluating policy options; incentives or disincentives in dealing with externalities (i.e., those costs or benefits of a course of action not directly involved in the policy); the status quo orientation of the system; the role of sub-governments or "iron triangles" in certain policy areas; and the incremental nature, in most cases, of policy formation in the United States. Chapter 4 also describes more formal means of environmental control, such as the requirement of an environmental impact statement, or EIS, and introduces the administrative agencies most involved in environmental administration in the United States. Finally, the effects of environmental litigation on the system are examined and the environmental laws governing environmental policies are discussed, here and in Part Two of the book.

In Part Two we examine environmental policy in seven chapters that discuss air pollution, energy policy, solid and hazardous waste policy, land management, international environmental problems, and international environmental management. In each area there are current policies that do not effectively address the problems they were meant to deal with. This is true even though experts are often in agreement about what needs to be done. As a result, the paradox of environmental policy is that the system often produces policies that are fundamentally unable to address environmental problems adequately. We will examine these policies.

It is my hope that after reading this book you will have a better understanding of environmental problems, the system that produced these problems, and what you can do to help produce a better future. There is much you can do when you understand how the system works.

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