Lesson Objectives:- Environmental public policy
- Policy Life Cycle
- Economic effects
Environmental Public Policy includes all of a society's laws and agency-enforced regulations that deal with a society's interactions with the environment. These policies are developed at all levels of government - local, state, federal and international.
The purpose of Environmental Public Policy is to promote the common good.
There are 2 goals associated with this purpose:
1) the prevention or reduction of air, water and land pollution
2) the use of natural resources like forests, fisheries, oil and land
Environmental Public Policy law is the responsibility of Congress. While the EPA develops broad rules and regulations, federal agencies individually adapt these rules based on public comments and feedback. A lot of these comments may come from special interest groups or businesses directly affected by this legislation.
Congress has to pass appropriations for various programs authorized by law. The President draws up a budget and Congress decides how much of this budget will be funded.
Environmental public policy aims to change the behavior of polluters or resource users to benefit public welfare and the environment.
There are two ways to enforce behavior changes - natural market forces or actual regulations. A market approach treats all polluters equally and gives strong incentives to reduce the costs of resources. An example is the cap and trade system for CO2 emissions through the Clean Air Act of 1990 to help control pollution.
Actual regulations involve the EPA regulating pollution problems and setting standards for protecting the health of vulnerable populations. This is also known as a ‘command and control' approach.
There are four stages to a policy life cycle: recognition, formulation, implementation and control.
Recognition involves early perceptions of an environmental problem. Scientists publish their findings and journalists publish and popularize the topic. For example, in 1972, Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland discovered the threat posed by chlorofluorocarbons to the ozone layer. Their work led to the Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-destroying chemicals around the world.
Formulation is the second stage in the life cycle of a policy. In this stage, there is strong debate about the topic. Politics intensify.
Stage three is Implementation, where policy is determined and new regulations are put in place. Real economic and political costs are exacted.
Finally, Control is the last stage where policies are widely supported and in use. Conditions are improving, if not completed resolved.
The economic effects of environmental public policy have been fiercely debated for a long time. The real costs of some economic activities are not accounted for as they are heavily subsidized. For example, cattle grazing is a heavily subsidized industry where real costs are not factored in.
Some environmental policies have no costs but most do. Their benefits outweigh costs - protecting public welfare and the environment long-term. There are many myths about costs often generated by special interest groups who want to keep doing business the way they have - even if that continues to pollute natural resources.
In 1990, an EPA study revealed that the environmental protection industry generates $355 billion in total industry sales, $14 billion in corporate profits, $63 billion in government revenue and 4 million jobs. Keeping ecosystems safe is not only prudent for health but also generates profit, encourages enterprise and creates jobs.
Environmental public play does not diminish wealth - it transfers wealth from polluters to non-polluters and encourages long term health and well being.