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Sara Hughes

City governments are key players in U.S. environmental policy. Policy decisions made at the local level shape people’s relationship to important natural resources such as water and forests, influence environmental quality locally, and can scale up to have regional, national, and global consequences. This chapter reviews the contributions of, and gaps in, scholarship aimed at understanding the forces shaping local environmental policy, including local politics, local institutions and capacities, intergovernmental dynamics, and local problem conditions. It also identifies three emerging issues of concern to both local governments and scholars of local environmental policy: the urgency of addressing environmental justice and inequality; the role of city governments in an era of federal roll backs; and the local implications of global engagement. Attending to the empirical and theoretical challenges associated with local environmental policy in the U.S. will provide much needed insight for scholars and practitioners.