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Presentation on theme: "ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY."— Presentation transcript:


2 Why is environmental policy so controversial?
Creates both winners and losers Losers may be interest groups or average citizens Losers may not want to pay costs Example: auto exhaust control Shrouded in scientific uncertainty Example: greenhouse effect Takes the form of entrepreneurial politics Encourages emotional appeals: "good guys" versus "bad guys"


4 I. MAJORITARIAN POLITICS: Distributed benefits, distributed costs
A. Gives benefits to large numbers. B. Distributed costs to large numbers

5 II. INTEREST GROUP POLITICS: Concentrated benefits, concentrated costs.
A. Gives benefits to relatively small group. B. Cost imposed on another small group

6 III. CLIENT POLITICS: Concentrated benefits, distributed costs
A. Relatively small group benefits B. Costs distributed widely C. Most people unaware of costs

7 IV. ENTREPRENEURIAL POLITICS: distributed benefits, concentrated costs
A. Gives benefits to large number B. Cost imposed on small group C. Success depends on people who work for unorganized majorities - Ralph Nader, Rachael Carson

8 The American context Environmental policy is shaped by unique features of American politics More adversarial than in Europe Rules are often uniform nationally (auto emissions) But require many regulators and rules, strict deadlines, and expensive technologies Often government (pro-) versus business (anti-) Example: Clean Air Act, which took thirteen years to revise in Congress In England, rules are flexible and regional (1). Compliance is voluntary (2). Government and business cooperate

9 The American context Depends heavily on states
Standards are left to states, subject to federal control Local politics decides allocations Federalism reinforces adversarial politics; separation of powers provides multiple points of access


11 Figure 21.1: Government Regulation
Source: Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report (January 20, 1990), 185, updated with Wirthlin Worldwide Survey.

Many people hope to benefit, but many people (anyone who owns a car) will have to pay the cost. When People Believe the Costs Are Low Environmental Impact Statements. When People Believe the Costs Are High Gasoline Taxes

Regions hurt by acid rain (mainly in the Northeast) argue with regions that product a lot of acid rain (mainly in the Midwest) about who should pay.

Farmers manage to minimize federal controls over the use of pesticides. Most people are unaware of what foods contain what pesticides or which, if any, are harmful; farmers are keenly aware of the economic benefits of pesticides and are well organized to defend them.

Many people hope to benefit from rules that impose costs on a few firms.

16 Entrepreneurial politics gave rise to environmental movement
Santa Barbara oil spill, Earth Day Led to the formation of EPA and passage of the Water Quality Improvement Act and tougher Clean Air Act in 1970 Two years later Congress passed laws designed to clean up water Three years later Congress adopted the Endangered Species Act New laws passed into the 1990s Existing environmental organizations grew in size and new ones formed Public opinion rallied behind environmental slogans

17 Global warming Earth's temperature rises from trapped gases in the atmosphere Predicted result: floods on coastal areas as the polar ice caps melt; wilder weather as more storms are created; and tropical diseases spread to North America Activist scientists versus skeptics scientists Activists agree with predicted results and say we should act now, despite scientific doubts Skeptics say we should learn more before doing anything Survey indicates skeptics outnumber activists Activists have greatest influence U.S. signed Kyoto Protocol in 1997

Much of environmental policy is connected with the nation's transportation system especially to the use of automobiles.

19 At present, the number of cars in use is increasing two times faster than the rate of population growth. The amount of land nationwide devoted to parking lots is equivalent to the size of the state of Georgia. The largest source of toxins in our air is from Motor Vehicles. .

20 Majoritarian politics: pollution from automobiles
Clean Air Act imposed tough restrictions 1975: 90 percent reduction of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide; 1976: 90 percent reduction in nitrous oxides Required catalytic converters States were required to restrict public use of cars If auto emissions controls were insufficient- parking bans required, implementation of car pools, gas rationing Efforts failed: opposition too great Congress and the EPA backed down, postponed deadlines Consumers, auto industry, and unions objected Loss of horsepower Loss of competitiveness Loss of jobs The Clean Air Act was weakened in 1977 but revived in 1990 with tougher standards

21 Public will support tough laws
If costs are hidden (catalytic converters) But not if they have to change habits (car pools)

22 Majoritarian politics when people believe the costs are low: National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) Requires environmental impact statement (EIS) Does not require specific action Passed Congress with overwhelming support But encouraged numerous lawsuits that block or delay projects Popular support remains strong: costs appear low, benefits high

23 Majoritarian politics when people believe the costs are high
Increased gasoline taxes Would discourage driving, save fuel, and reduce smog Most would pay, most would benefit But costs come long before benefits And benefits may not be obvious Easier to raise gas tax if benefits are concrete, for example, highways, bridges, and so forth

24 Interest group politics: acid rain
Source of acid rain Burning of high-sulfur coal in midwestern factories Winds carry sulfuric acid eastward Rains bring acid to earth Effects of acid rain Acidification of lakes Destruction of forests Long-term and some short-term effects are unclear Regional battle East versus Midwest, Canada versus United States Midwestern businesses deny blame and costs

25 Interest group politics: acid rain
Solutions and compromise Burn low-sulfur coal one alternative Effective but expensive Low-sulfur coal comes from West, high-sulfur coal is local Install smokestack scrubbers a second alternative Costly, not always effective, and leave sludge But allow use of inexpensive high-sulfur coal Congress voted for scrubbers for all new plants Including those that burned low-sulfur coal Even if plant was next to low-sulfur coal mine Political advantages Protected jobs of high-sulfur coal miners; powerful allies in Congress Environmentalists preferred scrubbers; "definitive" solution to problem Scrubber manufacturers preferred scrubbers Eastern governors preferred scrubbers; made their plants more competitive

26 Interest group politics: acid rain
Solutions and compromise Practical disadvantages Failed to allow for plants that burn low-sulfur coal; why spend money on scrubbers? Scrubbers didn't work well Failed to address problem of existing plants Stalemate for thirteen years Two-step regulation proposed by Bush Before 1995: some plants could choose their approach; fixed reduction but plants decide how to do After 1995: sharper reductions for many more plants, requiring some use of scrubbers Sulfur dioxide allowances could be bought and sold Financial compensation for coal miners who lose jobs Became part of Clean Air Act of 1990

27 Client politics: agricultural pesticides
Issue: control of use and runoff of pesticides; farmers have mostly resisted policy entrepreneurs, with DDT an exception EPA efforts to evaluate safety of all pesticides Given mandate by Congress in 1972 Program has not succeeded Too many pesticides to evaluate (1). Many have only long-term effects needing extended study (2). Expensive and time-consuming to evaluate Benefits of pesticide may outweigh harm Political complications Farmers are well-represented in Congress Subsidies encourage overproduction, which encourages overuse of pesticides Damage is hard to see and dramatize The EPA budget is small Few pesticides have been removed from the market; only those receiving heavy media coverage such as DDT in 1972 Client politics has won out

THE ENVIRONMENTAL UNCERTAINTIES 1. What is the Problem? 2. What Are Our Goals? 3. How Do We Achieve Our Goals.?

29 Offsets An environmental rule that a company in an area with polluted air can offset its own pollution by reducing pollution from another source in the area. For instance, an older company that can't afford to pay for new anti-pollution technologies may buy pollution credits from a newer company that has reduced its source of pollution below the levels required by law.

30 Bubble standard The total amount of air pollution that can come from a given factory. A company is free to decide which specific sources within that factory must be reduced and how to meet the bubble standard.

31 Pollution Allowances (or banks)
If a company reduces its polluting emissions by more than the law requires, it can either use this excess to cover a future plant expansion or sell it to another company.

32 Command-and-control strategy
A strategy to improve air and water quality, involving the setting of detailed pollution standards and rules.

33 Why is it so controversial?
1. Every policy creates winners and losers. 2. Many environmental issues are enmeshed in scientific uncertainty. 3. Much environmental policy takes the form of entrepreneur politics - mobilizing decisions with strong, often emotional appeals in order to overcome the political advantages of client groups that oppose a change.

Evidence indicates that many current environmental problems are intensifying while new problems are continually emerging. Science has been unable to develop workable solutions to most forms of pollution. Such uncertainty precludes the formulation of a coherent public policy. As a result, this is an area where politics will necessarily lag behind technology. Science must define a direction.

35 The results: the environment has improved since 1970 in some aspects
Less air pollution Maybe less water pollution but harder to judge Hazardous wastes remain a problem




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