New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Edited by Albert Breton, Giorgio Brosio, Silvana Dalmazzone and Giovanna Garrone
Chapter 10: The Political Economy of Environmental Governance in the United States
Jason F. Shogren 1. INTRODUCTION In 1960 at the request of the United States Congress, the Surgeon General – the chief federal health advisor – issued a report on national environmental health. The reported stated ‘[i]t is not being overdramatic to suggest that threats from our environment, actual or potential, cannot only generate wholly undesirable eﬀects on the health and well-being of isolated individuals, but under certain circumstances could aﬀect large segments of our population and conceivably threaten the very existence of our Nation’ (see Neimark and Mott, 1999, p. 184). Over the next decade, numerous other environmental warning cries were heard throughout the US, including Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and G. Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons. Reﬂecting the urgency of a national crisis, President Richard Nixon declared in his 1970 State of the Union message that ‘[r]estoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause for all the people of America.’ Together Congress and President Nixon enacted a set of far-reaching federal laws and statutes aimed at protecting the environment. Starting with the federalization of environmental protection with the National Environmental Protection Act of 1969, people now approach environmental protection totally diﬀerently in decision making than they did three decades ago (see Percival et al., 1992). Today this 1960s and 1970s sense of emergency has been replaced with the sentiment that environmental protection is an enduring US national value. The public commitment to environmental...
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