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This lecture will help you understand: Environmental policy’s societal context U.S. environmental laws Different approaches to policy The policy process.

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Presentation on theme: "This lecture will help you understand: Environmental policy’s societal context U.S. environmental laws Different approaches to policy The policy process."— Presentation transcript:

1 This lecture will help you understand: Environmental policy’s societal context U.S. environmental laws Different approaches to policy The policy process International environmental policy Transboundary issues

2 Policy A set of plans and principles to address problems and guide decision making in specific instances. Public policy consists of laws, regulations, orders, incentives, and practices designed to advance societal welfare. Environmental policy pertains to human interactions with the environment and generally aims to regulate resource use or pollution to promote human welfare and/or protect natural systems.

3 Environmental policy Addresses issues of equity and resource use Prevents overexploitation of public resources (tragedy of the commons) Ensures that some people do not harm others while benefiting from common resources Prevents free riders by ensuring, through enforcement or taxation, that all parties sacrifice Prevents external costs by ensuring that some parties do not use resources in ways that harm others

4 Pollution from sewage Much of the Tijuana River’s pollution results from sewage that has not been properly treated.

5 External costs Users of river water can create external costs for other users downstream. This woman may suffer pollution from upstream factories, and create pollution affecting downstream families.

6 What can hinder environmental policy? Opposition from landowners fearing loss of control over land Opposition from businesses, developers, and industry groups fearing government regulation Human tendency (especially businesses, media, politicians) to focus on short-term problems and ignore long-term problems

7 U.S. federal government In the U.S. government, power is shared among three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.

8 Administrative agencies, the “fourth branch”

9 Constitutional amendments Several amendments bear on environmental policy, including the Fifth Amendment and its “takings clause.” In the Lucas case, the Supreme Court ruled that a law prohibiting beach development was a “regulatory taking.”

10 First wave of environmental policy in the U.S. Laws to promote land settlement and resource extraction; for example: General Land Ordinances, 1785, 1787 Homestead Act, 1862 Mineral Lands Act, 1866 Timber Culture Act, 1873

11 Land settlement U.S. policy encouraged settlers like these in Nebraska, circa. 1860, to move west.

12 Mining in Alaska Resource extraction Logging in Washington

13 Second wave of environmental policy in the U.S. To address impacts of the first wave; for example: Creation of national parks Creation of national forests Soil conservation policy Wilderness Act, 1964

14 Third wave of environmental policy in the U.S. Modern environmental activism and policy arose in response to pollution and other problems. Silent Spring Earth Day EPA and National Environmental Policy Act Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act

15 Rachel Carson and Silent Spring Carson’s 1962 book brought attention to pesticide dangers, and catalyzed environmental awareness.

16 Rivers on fire The petroleum-polluted Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire, showing the need for action against water pollution.

17 Earth Day Earth Day began in 1970… …and is bigger than ever today.

18 EPA and NEPA In 1970, President Richard Nixon: Signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) into law Created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by executive order

19 EPA Was directed to: Conduct and evaluate research Monitor environmental quality Set and enforce standards (e.g., for pollutants) Assist states in meeting standards Educate the public

20 NEPA Created the Council on Environmental Quality Mandated environmental impact statements for public projects and has: Prioritized understanding our impacts on the environment Slowed down or prevented environmentally destructive development Given citizens a say in the policy process

21 Key environmental protection laws,

22 Some approaches to environmental policy Command and control (end of pipe): government regulation; limits/standards/quotas set; penalties for violations Green taxes: charges on environmentally harmful products, activities Marketable permits: firms can buy/sell/trade permits to emit certain amounts of pollutants

23 Many subsidies are environmentally harmful Some examples from the 2002 Green Scissors report: Mining: billions of dollars of minerals extracted from public lands leased cheaply Coal: billions of dollars to coal industry while money also goes to find cleaner energy sources Timber: hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Forest Service building roads for private logging on public land

24 The environmental policy process

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26 Viewpoints: Public or private vs. pollution? “Relying on private for-profit companies to solve water problems can result in higher costs and fees that families cannot afford.” “The private sector can more often implement projects faster, and at a lower cost, than a lumbering government.” From Viewpoints

27 Satellite monitoring and international policy The same radar technology used to map sewage outflow from the Tijuana River was used to pinpoint the 2002 oil spill off the Spanish coast. From The Science behind the Stories

28 Legislative process Bills go through a long process before becoming law, involving: Committees, subcommittees, and floor votes in both houses A joint conference committee Final approval Signature or veto by the president

29 International law Conventional law arises from conventions or treaties agreed to among nations. (e.g., Montreal Protocol to protect ozone layer) Customary law arises from practices or customs held in common by most cultures. (e.g., resource use should be equitable and one nation should not cheat another.)

30 U.S.–Mexican cooperation In 1990 the U.S. and Mexico agreed by treaty to build and operate the International Wastewater Treatment Plant to handle excess sewage from Tijuana that otherwise would pollute the river.

31 Important international bodies United Nations (UN): main body of international accord; UNEP handles environmental issues World Bank: funds major development projects worldwide European Union (EU): government body with representatives from most European nations World Trade Organization (WTO): promotes free trade worldwide Non governmental organizations (NGOs): nonprofit advocacy organizations

32 Conclusion Environmental policy draws from science, ethics, economics, and the political process. Command-and-control legislation and regulation are the most common approaches to policymaking. Innovative economic policy tools have also been developed. Environmental issues often overlap political boundaries and require international cooperation.

33 Conclusion The political process produced promising solutions to the Tijuana River Valley Estuary and Beach Sewage Cleanup Act (renewed in 2004). Binational agreements and management plans also played a role. Understanding the fundamentals of environmental policy will help students develop creative solutions to problems.

34 QUESTION: Review The first wave of environmental policy in the U.S. was designed to: a. Prevent pollution problems. b.Facilitate settlement and resource extraction. c. Restrict use of public lands. d.Restrict use of private lands.

35 QUESTION: Review According to NEPA, before the government can embark on a major development project, it must conduct a(n): a. Pollution prevention and assessment study. b.Public opinion poll. c. Business feasibility study. d.Environmental impact statement. e. None of the above.

36 QUESTION: Review Which is NOT a responsibility of the EPA? a. Monitor environmental quality b.Set and enforce pollutant standards c. Conduct and evaluate research d.Educate the public e. All of the above are responsibilities of the EPA.

37 QUESTION: Review Which illustrates a “command-and-control” approach to an environmental problem? a. A reward for recycling the most aluminum cans b.A five-year jail term for exceeding air pollution limits c. A contest for designing the most fuel-efficient automobile d.An exemption from the Clean Air Act during wartime e. None of the above

38 QUESTION: Weighing the Issues What if a state bans beach development to prevent erosion, and a property owner cannot then build condos on his land? a. It is a regulatory taking, and the ban should be overturned. b.It is a regulatory taking, and the property owner should be compensated. c. The state has a right to ban development, for the public good, without compensating landowners.

39 QUESTION: Weighing the Issues Should executives from industry be allowed through the “revolving door” to take government jobs regulating their industry? a. No, regulating one’s former industry is a conflict of interest that undermines the regulatory process. b.Yes, government will receive people who are experienced and have inside knowledge.

40 QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data What law was passed in 1973? a. Wilderness Act c. Food Security Act b. Clean Water Act d. Endangered Species Act

41 QUESTION: Viewpoints What are the appropriate roles of the public and private sectors in resolving water pollution problems? a. Government should enforce regulations and assure that public water supplies are safe. b.Private companies should provide drinking water and assure that supplies are safe. c. We should seek public-private partnerships for supplying water and cleaning wastewater.


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