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Understanding Environmental Policy

Understanding Environmental Policy

Steven Cohen
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Understanding Environmental Policy
    Book Description:

    In Understanding Environmental Policy, Steven Cohen introduces an innovative, multidimensional framework for developing effective environmental policy within the United States and around the world. He demonstrates his approach through an analysis of four case studies representing current local, national, and international environmental challenges: New York City's garbage crisis; the problem of leaks from underground storage units; toxic waste contamination and the Superfund program; and global climate change. He analyzes the political, scientific, technological, organizational, and moral import of these environmental issues and the nature of the policy surrounding them. He also places a specific focus on the response from the George W. Bush administration. Cohen considers how our current environmental policy and problems reflect the value we place on our ecosystems; whether science and technology can solve the environmental problems they create; and what policy is necessary to reduce environmentally damaging behaviors. Cohen's multifaceted approach is essential reading for analysts, managers, activists, students, and scholars of environmental policy.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50962-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    John Kennedy
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Part I. Developing a Framework

    • Chapter 1 Understanding Environmental Policy
      (pp. 3-9)

      Environmental policy is a complex and multidimensional issue. As Harold Seidman observed in Politics, Position, and Power: The Dynamics of Federal Organization, “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” Put another way, one’s position in an organization influences one’s stance and perspective on the issues encountered. Similarly, one’s take on an environmental issue or the overall issue of environmental protection varies according to one’s place in society and the nature of one’s professional training.

      For example, to a business manager, the environmental issue is a set of rules one needs to understand in order to stay out of trouble....

    • Chapter 2 A Framework for Understanding Environmental Policy
      (pp. 10-46)

      Environmental problems cross the boundaries of sovereign states and affect natural systems worldwide, as in the case of global climate changes. The environmental problem is multidimensional, linked to the inescapable fact that human beings are biological entities that depend on a limited number of resources for survival. As the earth’s population continues to grow, so does the stress on finite natural systems and resources. Yet our ability to use information and technology to expand the planet’s carrying capacity also continues to grow.

      This book is a brief exploration into the fundamental issues of environmental policy. It presents and applies a...

  6. Part II. Applying the Framework

    • Chapter 3 Why New York City Can’t Take Out the Garbage
      (pp. 49-61)

      Chapter 2 provided a framework for analyzing and understanding environmental issues. We now turn to an application of that framework for understanding the problem of disposing New York City’s garbage. Examining each dimension of the city’s solid waste problem will provide a comprehensive explanation of the problem and its potential solution. The city’s garbage problem will be examined as an issue of values, as a political issue, and as a problem for science and technology. Finally, we will address the policy design and management dimensions of the issue.

      As noted, solid waste is not only an issue for New York...

    • Chapter 4 Why Companies Let Valuable Gasoline Leak Out of Underground Tanks
      (pp. 62-75)

      In Title I of the 1984 Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) to the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1976, the U.S. Congress began to regulate underground gasoline and chemical storage tanks. In 1986 the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) established a leaking underground storage tank trust fund to pay the costs of cleanups when tank owners could not be found or resisted a cleanup order from the government. Over the past century, underground storage tanks have become the preferred method of storage for the ever increasing quantities of petroleum and chemicals needed to fuel our lifestyle.

      Underground tanks...

    • Chapter 5 Have We Learned How to Clean Up Toxic Waste Sites, and Can We Afford It?
      (pp. 76-102)

      The reader may notice that the chapters in this section are getting increasingly longer, and it is not an accident. The environmental problems we are seeking to understand grow in complexity as this volume progresses. The issue of toxic waste creation and cleanup is multidimensional and quite intricate. As I noted in a book chapter I wrote in the early 1980s:

      Every time we wrap a slice of cheese in plastic wrap, purchase a nylon backpack, or drink coffee from a Styrofoam cup, we are contributing to this nation’s hazardous waste problem. We all use and benefit from goods that,...

    • Chapter 6 Have We Made the Planet Warmer, and If We Have, How Can We Stop?
      (pp. 103-124)

      The Earth’s climate is an extremely complex system, making it difficult to identify trends and their causes. In the last three decades scientists have become increasingly certain that global temperatures are rising. Temperature records and other data reveal, however, that the Earth’s temperature has always fluctuated. Separating natural fluctuations from anthropogenic or human-induced change is a major challenge faced by scientists working to interpret recent changes in global average temperatures. The impact of human activities on climate has long been a subject of study. In 1970 Helmut Landsberg, one of the first scientists to identify and quantify such changes, published...

  7. Part III. Critiquing the Framework

    • Chapter 7 What Have We Learned from the Framework About Environmental Problems, and What Else Do We Need to Know?
      (pp. 127-140)

      Parts 1 and 2 examined environmental issues through a framework that provided a common set of questions:

      What is the value dimension of the problem?

      What aspect of our lifestyle led to the problem? Can the problem be solved by changing the way we live? And is that possible, or are these behaviors too central to our culture and value system to be changed?

      What political issue does the environmental problem pose, and how did it get on the political agenda? What political, economic, and social forces created the problem? What political and institutional arrangements might help to solve the...

    • Chapter 8 Conclusions: Improving Environmental Policy
      (pp. 141-156)

      Our goal is to improve environmental policy, which does not imply that we are doing a bad job. Quite the contrary, our environmental agencies have made impressive progress in addressing environmental issues and are often unjustly criticized. Our society, academic community, and government and private institutions have learned an enormous amount about our environmental problems in the past thirty years. The cases described in this book illustrate the evolution of various environmental issues and demonstrate that social learning and institution building are central to developing effective environmental policy, even if it is often a case of two steps forward, one...

  8. References
    (pp. 157-166)
  9. Index
    (pp. 167-176)