Environmental Policy and Politics
Environmental protection policy is the most costly, and many would suggest, the most important regulatory responsibility in the United States and other wealthy democracies. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the largest of all federal regulatory agencies, with a budget of approximately $7.8 billion. This figure grossly understates the nation’s commitment to environmental protection insofar as it does not include state and local regulatory budgets and, more importantly, the costs of compliance. The commitment to environmental protection reflects many factors, including the high levels of public support, effective political advocacy, and the inherent importance of the policy area. The EPA has no shortage of critics. Yet, there is much evidence that its regulatory efforts have contributed to significant gains in environmental quality. In the last three decades there have been considerable achievements in the control of air and water pollution and solid and toxic wastes. Despite public opinion poll data revealing a widespread belief that little progress has been made in the environment and things are likely to get worse in the future, environmental protection regulation has been remarkably successful.
A few caveats are in order, however. First, to say that public policy has performed well is not to conclude that gains have been achieved in a cost effective manner. There is much evidence of excessive costs imposed by regulatory design and a failure to allocate scarce resources in a rational manner. Second, while the EPA has been an important part of the story, environmental gains reflect a far more complex set of forces, including changes in corporate practices and the emergence of new technologies. Third, despite the past record, there is much to suggest that the current system of environmental regulation has run its course. Further gains may depend on the success in moving to new models of regulation, public-private collaboration, and government-supervised self-regulation. Fourth, recent decades have witnessed the rise of new global environmental problems that cannot be effectively addressed within the confines of the nation-state. Success in managing problems like global climate change will depend on progress in international institution-building.
This seminar provides a broad overview of environmental policy. Participants will gain an understanding of the justifications for environmental protection, the core features of US environmental regulations, recent reforms in regulatory policy-making, alternatives to the prevailing system, and the complexities of extending regulation into the international arena.
|Norman J. Vig and Michael E. Kraft,
Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century,
6th Edition (Congressional Quarterly Press, 2005). 1-933116-01-3
Judith Layzer, The Environmental Case, 2nd Edition (Congressional Quarterly Press, 2005). 1-56802-898-9
Most of the readings will be drawn from other sources, including the EPA, think tanks, and policy journals. With a few exceptions, these sources can be accessed via the internet through the hypertext links in the syllabus. In most cases, you will need to use Adobe Acrobat Reader (for .pdf files). This program is available as a free download from www.adobe.com.
|The grade will be determined as
Written case analyses (4) 60%
|Key Components of the Grade|
Case Analyses (60 percent)
Seminar Presentation (10 percent)
Final Paper (30 percent)
|Topics to be Addressed by Week|
|Week 1||Course introduction|
|Week 2||Competing visions of the environment: from property rights to Gaia|
|Week 3||Do we regulate enough? Public opinion, risk, and the environment|
|Week 4||The Environmental Protection Agency|
|Week 5||Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Earth: Policy Performance|
|Week 6||The Revolt against Regulation: Retrenchment, Reform, and Reinvention|
|Week 7||The Bush Record: The Neo Cons(ervationists)|
|Week 8||Alternatives to Command and Control Regulation|
|Week 9||Corporate Environmentalism, Associational Self-regulation, and Regulatory Hybrids|
|Week 10||Global Environmental Policy: the Challenges|
|Week 11||Regulating the Ozone Hole and Global Climate Change|
|Week 12||Sustainable Development: A Concept in Search of Content?|