Environmental Policy: What is it? Any course of action deliberately taken, or not taken, to manage human activities. Prevents, reduces, or mitigates harmful effects on nature and natural resources by humans. Very controversial: Which is a priority — People or Places? Jobs or Animals? Protection or Affordability?
What's the BIG Deal? There are 4 main reasons why Environmental Policy is so controversial: Every government policy creates winners & losers Issues are debated by scientific uncertainty Most controversial measures take form of Entrepreneurial Politics Environmental Policy of the federal government impacts the states and other nations Clean Air & Water Acts The Kyoto Protocol (1997)
Environmental Politics Entrepreneurial: Controlling pollution by corporations (All benefit, corp. pays) Majoritarian Politics: Reducing air pollution cost caused by automobiles (Everyone benefits, everyone pays) Interest Group Politics: Mediating issues over Acid Rain (Businesses pay, farmers & certain industries benefit) Client Politics: Continuing use of pesticides to yield more (Farmers benefit, everyone pays)
Entrepreneurial Politics: History Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring highlights dangers of pesticides. Oil spill in 1969 in Santa Barbara, CA Start of Earth Day (1 st celebrated 4-20-70) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created by Nixon administration in 1970. Congress strengthened the Clean Air Act & the Water Quality Improvement Act (1970) Various laws and amendments to these acts were passed in the 1990s
Is global warming real or a myth? Is it human generated or cyclical? How does this impact environmental policy in the US?
Entrepreneurial Politics: Issues Endangered Species Act (1973) o forbids buying or selling of endangered animals & plants o Animal rights groups support and polarize destruction and poaching…benefits widely distributed/costs to poachers o May be popular if it saves a symbol as a result: Example of the bald eagle o May be unpopular if jobs are lost as a result: Example of spotted owl
Majoritarian Politics Based around perspective of the costs Examples: Low Perceived Costs: National Environmental Policy Act (1969) required that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be written before any agency undertakes an activity that affects the environment. EIS is a report that assesses possible effects of project on the environment. Costs are passed on to everyone, but large projects move forward and costs are hidden Discuss issue of mid-county bridge
Majoritarion Politics (cont.) High Perceived Costs: Raising taxes on gasoline o Discourages driving, conserves fuel & reduces smog o Everyone pays and everyone benefits o Costs are greatly felt by most families o Remains very unpopular o Must sell an increase in the gas tax as conferring a benefit
Majoritarian Politics: Issues Clean Air Act (1970): imposed tough restrictions on amount of automobile emissions o Amended from original act passed in 1963 o Smog became a huge problem in large cities o Led to auto emissions and air quality standards Provision in law required states to develop land-use and transportation rules Catalytic converters reduced emissions, but raised auto prices. Leaded gasoline was phased out. The public will support tough environmental laws when someone else has to pay or the cost is hidden; if they have to pay then their isn't strong support
Save the Planet! The legislation passed by Congress (Clean Air Acts of 1970, 1977 & 1990) set strict time limits that could not be met without burdening individuals. Results? Time tables pushed back (1990 pushed smog timeline to 2010, then reduced the requirement in 2010) Some successes in major cities have been realized with these measures. Debate centers on which action led to the success, though. How will we gauge success and how much is the average American willing to sacrifice to “save the planet?”
Interest Group Politics: Acid Rain is any form of precipitation that is acidic. What are the sources? Burning fuels from steels mills and electrical power plants How did uncertainties provide support for each side? In the Northeast and East, some forests & lakes damaged, others were not The Midwest argued that not all could be blamed on smokestacks Transitioning to low sulfur coal was too expensive
Interest Group Politics: Solution? (1977) Scrubbers (Eliminate sulfurous fumes from gas before leaving smokestacks) Four Great Advantages: 1.Jobs are protected 2. Environmentalists liked them 3. Scrubber manufacturers liked idea 4.Costly, but prevent shutdowns or moving plants Problems? (1990) Scrubbers didn’t work well, old factories not fitted, created offsets and allowances, timetables extended
Client Politics: Agricultural Pesticides Silent Spring by Rachel Carson caused p ublic outcry against the use of DDT In 1972, the EPA banned DDT, a common pesticide, because it was shown to have detrimental effects on wildlife Use of many pesticides make it hard for the EPA to evaluate and remove dangerous ones. Many farmers advocate the continuing use of pesticides on crops because they believe that they have positive effects on crop yield Farmers are well-organized with iron triangles to protect their use of pesticides.
Client Politics: The Superfund Hazardous sites were found all over America which led to the clean up of Toxic Waste o Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund Signed by Carter in 1980 Taxed chemical and petroleum industries Gives gov't the power to sue and person or company that dumps waste o Only limited success due to lawsuits and appellate process
Environmental Uncertainties Difficulties of the Environmental Policy Process: 1.Identifying the problem: Some are easy but many problems are less clear-cut. 2.Costs & Benefits: What will it take to solve problem, who pays & how much? How big is the threat? 3.Setting Goals: What is good enough? What goals are realistic? 4.Achieving Goals: Issuing rules and defining them is easy, but enforcing them is difficult.
Environmental Strategies o Command-and-Control Strategy is assumed to achieve greatest gain with the least cost. improve air & water quality setting of detailed standards & rules o Offsets: Companies wanting to open a new plant can do so as long as in generates a counterbalance by reducing pollution o Bubble Standards: Total amt. of air pollution that can come from each factory. o Pollution Allowances (or banks): When company reduces pollution more than required, it can use excess to cover future plant expansions or sell to other companies as an offset