Lecture Outlines
Chapter 7
The Science behind the
4th Edition
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This lecture will help you understand:
• Environmental policies
• Major U.S.
environmental laws
• Approaches to
environmental policy
• The environmental
policy process
• Science and policy
• International
environmental policy
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San Diego and Tijuana
• The Tijuana River empties
into the Pacific Ocean,
carrying millions of gallons
of untreated wastewater
• San Diego’s waters receive
storm water runoff
- Beaches are off-limits to
• People are pressing
policymakers to take action
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Environmental policy
• Policy = a formal set of general plans and principles to
address problems and guide decision making
• Public policy = made by governments
- Laws, regulations, orders, incentives, and practices
- Intended to advance societal welfare
• Environmental policy = pertains to human interactions
with the environment
- Regulates resource use or reduces pollution
- To promote human welfare and/or protect resources
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Environmental policy and resource use
• Science, ethics, and economics
help formulate policy
- Science = provides
information and analysis
- Ethics and economics =
clarify how society can
address problems
• Government interacts with
citizens, organizations, and the
private sector
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Policies prevent the tragedy of the commons
• Capitalist markets are driven by short-term profit
- Not long-term social or environmental stability
- Little incentive to minimize impacts
- Market failure justifies government intervention
• Tragedy of the commons = commonly held resources
will become overused and degraded
- Best prevented by oversight and regulations
• Traditional societies may safeguard against exploitation
• Privatization works if property rights are clear
- Does not work with air, water, etc.
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Environmental policies prevent free riders
• Free riders = reducing pollution tempts people to
- Avoid sacrifices made by others
- They get a “free ride”
• Private voluntary efforts are less effective than
efforts mandated by public policies
- All parties sacrifice equally
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Policies address external costs
• Environmental policies aim to
promote fairness by dealing
with external costs
• External costs = harmful
impacts of market transactions
are borne by people not
involved in the transaction
• Polluter pays principal =
polluters cover costs of impacts
Environmental policy goals = to protect resources against
the tragedy of the commons and to promote equity by
eliminating free riders and addressing external costs
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Many factors hinder environmental policy
• Why are environmental laws challenged, ignored, and
rejected by citizens and policymakers?
• Environmental policy involves government regulations
- Property owners and businesspeople think regulations
are inconvenient and cause economic loss
• Problems develop gradually and over the long term
- Human behavior is geared toward short-term needs
- Businesses opt for short-term economic gain
- News media have short attention spans
- Politicians act out of short-term interest
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Framework of U.S. policy
• The U.S. has pioneered innovative policies
- Role models and influence for other nations
• Legislative branch = Congress creates statutory law
• Executive branch = enacts or vetoes legislation
- Laws are implemented and executed by agencies
- Executive orders = specific legal instructions for
government agencies
• Judicial branch = interprets laws
- Precedents = guides for later cases
- Lawsuits are filed for and against protection
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The “fourth branch” of government
• Administrative agencies =
the “fourth branch”
- Established by the
president or Congress
- A source of policy
through regulations
- Monitor and enforce
• Regulations = specific
rules or requirements to
achieve objectives of
broadly written statutory
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State and local governmental policies
• States, counties, and municipalities also generate
environmental policies
- They can experiment with novel concepts
• California, New York, and Massachusetts have strong
environmental laws
- Well-funded agencies
- Citizens value protecting the environment
• State laws cannot violate principles of the U.S.
- If laws conflict, federal laws take precedence
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State and local agency involvement
California state and local agencies help regulate the impact
of the International Wastewater Treatment Plant
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Federal policymakers influence states
• Rarely, federal laws may force states to change
• Federal policymakers can give financial incentives to
encourage change (this works, if funds are adequate)
• “Cooperative federalism” = an agency works with state
agencies to achieve national standards
• Despite pressure to weaken laws, federal control is vital
to protect all citizens
- One national effort is more efficient than 50 efforts
- Transboundary disputes are minimized
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Constitutional amendments
• Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
- Prohibits denying “equal protection of its laws”
- The constitutional basis for environmental justice
• Fifth Amendment = takings clause
- Bans the literal taking of private property
- Also bans regulatory taking, which deprives a
property owner of economic uses of the property
• There is a sensitive balance between private rights and
the public good
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Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council
• In 1992 the Supreme Court ruled that a state law
intending to prevent serious public harm violated the
takings clause
• Lucas, a land developer, was allowed to build homes on
beachfront property
- Although a state agency
had prohibited
construction on the
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Early U.S. environmental policy
• From 1780s to the late 1800s, promoted settlement and
extraction of resources
• General Land Ordinances of 1785 and 1787
- The federal government managed unsettled lands
- Surveying and readying them for sale
• Increased prosperity for citizens and railroad companies
• Relieved crowding in Eastern cities
• Displaced millions of Native Americans
• People believed land was infinite and inexhaustible
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Typical laws of the 1780s–late 1800s
Homestead Act (1862) = anyone could buy or settle on
160 acres of public land
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Typical laws of the 1780s–late 1800s
General Mining Act (1878) =
people could mine on public
land for $5/acre with no
government oversight
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Typical laws of the 1780s–late 1800s
Timber Culture Act (1873) = 160 acres to anyone promising
to plant trees on 25% of that land
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The second wave of U.S. policy
• Public perception and government policy shifted
- Mitigated problems caused by westward expansion
• Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national
park, opened in 1872
- Also, national wildlife refuges, parks, and forests
• Understood that the West’s resources were exhaustible
- They required legal protection
• Land management policies addressed soil conservation
• The 1964 Wilderness Act preserves pristine land
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The third wave of U.S. environmental policy
• Mid-to late-20th century people were better off
- But lived with dirtier air, dirtier water, and more
waste and toxic chemicals
• Increased awareness of environmental
problems shifted public priorities
and policies
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring
(1962) described the ecological and
health effects of pesticides and
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Modern U.S. environmental policy
• The Cuyahoga River was so polluted that it caught
fire in the 1950s and 1960s
- The public demanded more environmental
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Modern U.S. environmental policy
• Most Americans support environmental
- Millions of people
celebrate Earth Day
each April
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The National Environmental Policy Act (1970)
• NEPA began the modern era of environmental policy
• Created the Council on Environmental Quality
• Requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
for any federal action that might significantly impact
the environment
• It forces the government and businesses to evaluate the
environmental impacts of a project
• Its cost-benefit approach usually does not halt projects
- It provides incentives to decrease damage
- Citizens are granted input into the policy process
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The EPA shifts environmental policy
• President Nixon’s executive order created the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Conducts and evaluates research
- Monitors environmental quality
- Sets and enforces standards for pollution levels
- Assists states in meeting standards and goals
- Educates the public
• The EPA is a leading agency in developing solutions
to pollution
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Significant environmental laws
• The public demanded a
cleaner environment
and supported tougher
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Why did environmental policy change?
• Several factors converged to allow major advances in
environmental policy in the 1960s and 1970s
- Wide evidence of environmental problems
- People could visualize policies to deal with problems
- The political climate was ripe, with a supportive
public and leaders who were willing to act
• Congress strengthened and elaborated laws in the 1980s
- Amendments to the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts
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Many reacted against regulation
• By 1990, many felt that regulations were too strict
• Attempts were made to weaken federal laws by Reagan,
George W. Bush, and the Republican-controlled
Congresses from 1994 to 2006
• “The Death of Environmentalism” (1994) = the
environmental movement had to be reinvented
- It must appeal to core values with an inspiring vision
- Show that these problems affect our quality of life
• President Obama’s election and a Democratic majority
in Congress brought optimism back to environmentalists
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Current environmental policy
• Other nations have increased attention to issues
- The 1992 Earth Summit
- The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable
• This fourth wave of policy focuses on sustainability
- Safeguarding ecosystems while raising living
Climate change dominates much
discussion on environmental policy
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Three major types of policy approaches
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Conflicts can be addressed in court
• Before legislation, lawsuits addressed U.S. policy issues
• Tort law = deals with one entity harming another
- Nuisance law = individuals suffering from pollution
would seek redress through lawsuits
- Courts make polluters stop through injunctions or fines
- But justices were reluctant to hinder industry
• In Boomer v. Atlantic Cement Company, the company
had to pay people for damages but could still operate
- The market decides between right and wrong
- This is not a viable option to prevent pollution
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Approaches to environmental policy
• Command-and-control approach: a regulating agency
sets rules or limits
- Threatening punishment for violators
- It brings cleaner air, water, safer workplaces, etc.
• Government actions may be well-intentioned
- But not well-informed
- Interest groups—people seeking private gain—
unduly influence politicians and work against public
• Citizens may view policies as restrictions on freedom
- Those policies will not remain in force
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Green taxes discourage undesirable activities
• Other approaches use innovation and efficiency to benefit
the public
- Aim to internalize external costs
- Taxes discourage undesirable activities
• Green taxes = tax environmentally harmful activities
- Businesses reimburse the public for damage they cause
- The more pollution, the higher the tax payment
- Give companies financial incentives to reduce
pollution with freedom to decide how to do so
- But costs are passed on to consumers
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Subsidies promote certain activities
• Subsidy = a government giveaway of
cash or resources to encourage a
particular activity
- Tax break = helps an entity by
relieving its tax burden
• They have been used to support
unsustainable activities
- Nations give $1.45 trillion/year in
harmful subsidies
From 2002 to 2008, U.S. fossil fuel companies received $72 billion of
taxpayer money, while renewable energy received only $29 billion
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Environmentally harmful subsidies
• The General Mining Act of 1872
- Mining companies get $500 million–$1 billion in
minerals from U.S. public lands each year
- But they don’t pay a penny in royalties to taxpayers
- The government has given away $250 billion in
mineral resources
- Mining activities have polluted 40% of Western
• The U.S. Forest Service spends $35 million of taxpayer
money/year building roads for logging companies
- Companies sell the trees for profit
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Harnessing market dynamics
• Governments use financial incentives in direct and
selective ways
- Subsidies and green taxes
• Financial incentives and market dynamics can also help
in obtaining policy goals
- Ecolabeling = sellers advertise that they use
sustainable practices
- Businesses win consumer confidence and outcompete
less sustainably produced brands
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Permit trading saves money
• Permit trading = a government-created market in
permits for an environmentally harmful activity
- Businesses buy, sell, trade these permits
• Cap-and-trade emissions trading system = the
government sets pollution levels (“caps”) and issues
- Polluters can buy, sell, and trade these permits
- Pollution is reduced overall, but does increase
around polluting plants
• Companies have an economic incentive to reduce
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Cap-and-trade and air pollution
• A cap-and-trade system in the U.S. mandates
lower sulfur dioxide emissions
- Emissions have decreased by 43%
• Cuts were obtained cheaper and more efficiently
than command-and-control regulation
- With no effects on supply or
economic growth
- Benefits outweigh costs
40 to 1
• Markets in carbon emissions
are sprouting up
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Market incentives work at the local level
• Municipalities charge residents for waste disposal,
according to the amount of waste generated
• Cities tax disposal of costly items (tires, motor oil)
• Some cities give rebates for buying water-efficient
• Power utilities give discounts to those buying efficient
lightbulbs and appliances
• Well-planned market incentives can reduce
environmental impact while minimizing costs to industry
- Easing concerns about government intrusion
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Public-private partnerships
• Public-private partnership = a for-profit entity does the
- A private entity acts as overseer
• Public policy goals will be achieved in a timely, costeffective manner
- Private entities try to maximize efficiency
• It is challenging to design workable partnerships while
serving both private and public interests
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Seven steps to making environmental
• Creating environmental policy has several steps
- Requires initiative, dedication, and the support of
many people
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Step 1: Identify a problem
• This requires curiosity, observation, record keeping,
and an awareness of our relationship with the
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Step 2: Pinpoint causes of the problem
• Involves scientific research
• Risk assessment = judging risks a problem poses
to health or the environment
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Step 3: Envision a solution
• Risk management = developing strategies to
minimize risk
- Involves social or political action
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Step 4: Get organized
• Organizations are more effective than individuals
- But a motivated, informed individual can also
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Step 5: Cultivate access and influence
• Lobbying = spending time and money to influence a
- Environmental advocates are not the most influential
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Who influences the policy process?
• Political Action Committees (PACs) = raise money for
political campaigns
- Corporations and industries can not make direct
campaign contributions
- So they establish PACs to help candidates win
- A 2010 Supreme Court decision allows corporations
and unions to buy ads for or against candidates
• The revolving door = movement of people between the
private sector and government
- Intimate knowledge of an issue or conflict of interest?
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Step 6: Shepherd the solution into law
• Prepare a bill, or draft law, containing solutions
• Find members of the House and Senate to introduce the
bill and shepherd it through committees
• The bill may become law or die in various ways
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Step 6: Shepherd the solution into law
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Step 7: Implement, assess, and interpret
• Following a law’s enactment
- Administrative agencies implement regulations
- Policymakers and others evaluate the policy’s
successes or failures
- The judicial branch interprets the law
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Science plays a role, but can be politicized
• Effective decisions are informed by scientific research
- A nation’s strength depends on its commitment to
• Sometimes policymakers ignore science
- They let political ideology determine policy
- Government scientists have had their work censored,
suppressed, or edited and their jobs threatened
- Unqualified people were put into power
- Most scientists greeted President Obama with relief
When taxpayer-funded research is suppressed or
distorted for political ends, everyone loses
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International Environmental Policy
• Environmental problems are not restricted by national
• Customary law = practices or customs held by most
• Conventional law = from conventions or treaties
- Montreal Protocol = nations agreed to reduce
ozone-depleting chemicals
- Kyoto Protocol = reduces fossil fuel emissions
causing climate change
• Nations can also make progress through multilateral
agreements, hard work, and diplomacy
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Organizations shape international policy
• International organizations
influence nations through
funding, peer pressure,
and media attention
• United Nations
Environment Programme
- Helps nations
understand and solve
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The World Bank and European Union
• The World Bank = one of the world’s largest funding
sources for economic development
- Dams, irrigation, infrastructure
- Funds unsustainable, environmentally damaging
• The European Union (EU) seeks to promote
Europe’s unity, economic and social progress
- Can sign binding treaties and enact regulations
- Can also issue advisory directives
- Sees environmental regulations as barriers to trade
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The World Trade Organization (WTO)
• Represents multinational corporations
- Promotes free trade
• Can impose penalties on nations that don’t comply with
its directives
• Interprets environmental laws as unfair barriers to trade
- Brazil and Venezuela filed a complaint against U.S.
regulations requiring cleaner-burning fuel
- The WTO agreed with Brazil and Venezuela, despite
threats to human health
• Critics charge the WTO aggravates environmental
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• Nongovernmental
Organizations (NGOs) =
entities that influence
international policy
• ENGOs (environmental
NGOs) = groups advocating
for environmental protection
- Some do not get politically
- Others try to shape policy
through research,
education, lobbying, or
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International institutions weld influence
• Globalization is making our world more interconnected
- Societies and ecosystems are being changed at
unprecedented rates
• Trade and technology allow increased consumption
- Consumptive nations exert incredible impacts
• Multinational corporations operate outside the reach of
national laws
- They don’t have the incentive to conserve resources or
act sustainably
• Organizations and institutions that shape policy are vital
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• Environmental policy is a problem-solving tool
- It uses science, ethics, and economics
• Conventional command-and-control approach uses
legislation and regulations to make policy
- It is the most common approach
• Tort law is still influential
• Market-based policies are being developed
• Environmental issues span political boundaries
- Requiring international cooperation
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_______ involves “laws and regulations that affect
resource use.”
a) Tort law
b) Environmental policy
c) Market failure
d) Tragedy of the commons
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Which of the following is NOT a goal of environmental
a) Protecting resources against the tragedy of the
b) Elimination of free riders
c) Externalizing internal costs
d) Promoting equity
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Why are environmental laws challenged, ignored, and
rejected by citizens and policymakers?
a) Many think regulations cause economic loss.
b) Businesses opt for short-term economic gain.
c) Politicians act out of short-term interest.
d) All of these are reasons environmental laws are not
well-liked by many people.
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Under the General Mining Act (1878):
a) Economically expensive projects are proposed.
b) Anyone could buy or settle on 160 acres of public land.
c) People could mine on public land for $5/acre with no
government oversight.
d) Anyone promising to plant trees on 25% of their land
could get 160 acres.
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Which of the following is NOT a duty of the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA)?
a) Conducts and evaluates research
b) Monitors environmental quality
c) Sets and enforces standards for pollution levels
d) All of these are duties of the EPA
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Which of the following entities provides funding to build
dams, irrigation facilities, and infrastructure?
a) NGOs
b) The EU
c) The World Bank
d) The WTO
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QUESTION: Viewpoints
According to the Fifth Amendment, should a landowner
be able to oppose an environmental restriction and build a
hazardous waste dump in a residential neighborhood?
a) Yes, property owners should be allowed to do
whatever they want with their land.
b) Yes, if the neighbors agree.
c) Yes, but only if the courts allow it.
d) No, private property development must be restricted if
it affects other people’s property.
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QUESTION: Viewpoints
Should the United States continue providing subsidies
and tax breaks to private industries that negatively affect
the environment?
a) Yes, the free market must not be interrupted.
b) Yes, but only if the negatively affected region is poor
and has a high jobless rate.
c) No, companies should survive or fail on their own,
without government help.
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QUESTION: Interpreting Graphs and Data
What major conclusion can be drawn from this graph on
emissions trading of sulfur dioxide?
a) Emissions have
increased since 2000.
b) Emissions have
decreased, but are
above permitted
c) The U.S. no longer
emits sulfur dioxide.
d) Permitted levels have
been lowered.
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