Environmental Change

Environmental Change

Rosemary O’Leary
Copyright Date: 1993
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Environmental Change
    Book Description:

    Environmental Changeexamines the impact of hundreds of federal court decisions on the policies and administration of the EPA since its inception in 1970. Having surveyed over 2,000 federal court decisions, Rosemary O'Leary presents case studies of five important policy areas: water quality, pesticides, toxic substances, air quality, and hazardous wastes.

    Compliance with court orders, O'Leary discovered, has become one of the EPA's top priorities, at times overshadowing congressional mandates and the authority of EPA administrators.

    For an agency often caught between the White House and Congressional agendas, the competing interests of industry and environmental groups, and turf battles with other federal agencies, O'Leary argues, judicial decision making is crucial in the public policy process.

    Environmental Changeoffers valuable information in the fields of public policy and environmental law.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0474-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. Chapter One Setting the Stage
    (pp. 1-22)

    In 1966, in one of her frequent trips to a family cabin in rural upstate New York, Carol Yannacone was shocked to find hundreds of dead fish floating on the surface of Yaphank Lake, where she had spent her summers as a child. After discovering that the county had sprayed the foliage surrounding the lake with DDT to kill mosquitos immediately prior to the fish kill, Yannacone persuaded her lawyer husband to file suit on her behalf against the county mosquito control commission. The suit requested an injunction to halt the spraying of pesticides containing DDT around the lake.¹


  7. Chapter Two In Search of Clean Water
    (pp. 23-46)

    Today the United States enjoys relatively clean water. The amount of pollution discharged to waterways annually is less than one-fifth the amount of pollution discharged into the air. The Clean Water Act has drastically curbed the amount of toxics pumped into our rivers and lakes. But this has not always been the case.

    In 1976, when Judge Thomas A. Flannery modified and approved a settlement agreement concerning the Clean Water Act between environmental groups and the EPA, he could not have known the sweeping changes in U.S. water policy that were set in motion. The so-called Flannery Decision mandated that...

  8. Chapter Three Controlling Pesticides
    (pp. 47-68)

    During the twentieth century, the use of pesticides to stop the spread of weeds and to reduce crop damage caused by insects and animals has become increasingly important for agricultural productivity. Although immensely beneficial, these pesticides have also been shown to present health and environmental hazards. Some have been proven to be carcinogenic, while others have been linked with the precipitous decline of certain species. Numerous court decisions have affected the EPAs policies concerning the regulation of such pesticides, as well as the administration of our federal pesticide law.¹

    The first two lawsuits examined here were filed by private businesses...

  9. Chapter Four Regulating Toxic Substances
    (pp. 69-94)

    Over 60,000 chemical substances are manufactured or processed for commercial use in the United States annually, and an estimated 1,000 additional chemicals are expected to be introduced into the market each year. Because many commonly used and widely dispersed chemicals have been found to be toxic (both the National Cancer Institute and the World Health Organization maintain that 60 to 90 percent of cancers are environmentally induced), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) authorizes the EPA to require the testing of chemical substances entering the environment and to regulate them.

    In 1980, Judge Lawrence Pierce of the U.S. District Court...

  10. Chapter Five In Search of Clean Air
    (pp. 95-116)

    The issue of regulating hazardous air pollutants is complex and technical in nature. The controversy usually begins with the question of which air pollutants should be classified as hazardous and continues as emission standards are set and regulations are promulgated. The 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) lists 189 toxic air pollutants that must be regulated by the EPA, including benzene, chlorine, asbestos, formaldehyde, methanol, styrene, and vinyl chloride.¹ The complex process of regulating hazardous air pollutants has been exacerbated by politics, economics, scientific uncertainty, and court intervention. One case drew the agency into court seven times and put the EPA...

  11. Chapter Six Diffusing Hazardous Wastes
    (pp. 117-146)

    Hazardous waste is an enormous challenge for the EPA. According to one study, an estimated 264 million metric tons of hazardous waste are generated annually,¹ enough to “fill the New Orleans Superdome almost 1,500 times over.”² Most of these wastes have not been destroyed, but have been buried in landfills, lagoons, vacant lots, and other dump sites. Over time, the wastes from these sites have leaked, polluting the land, water, and air. The Office of Technology Assessment estimates that there are between 1,500 and 10,000 inactive hazardous waste sites in the United States today,³ although many find this estimate conservative.⁴...

  12. Chapter Seven Out of the Sample and Into the Universe
    (pp. 147-174)

    The literature is replete with works by scholars arguing about the appropriateness of judges intervening in policy and administrative disputes. While a few researchers have examined what happens when judges do intervene in a specific instance or two, they have been less attentive to the cumulative changes in policies and administration in individual regulatory agencies that may result from such judicial activity (see Table 6).¹ This book has demonstrated that federal courts and the people who brought them into the policy process have significantly affected the policies and administration of the EPA in several statutory areas. The case studies presented...

  13. Abbreviations for Notes and Bibliography
    (pp. 175-178)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 179-218)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-240)
  16. General Index
    (pp. 241-250)
  17. Index of Cases
    (pp. 251-256)