Handbook of U.S. Environmental Policy
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Handbook of U.S. Environmental Policy

Edited by David M. Konisky

A comprehensive analysis of diverse areas of scholarly research on U.S. environmental policy and politics, this Handbook looks at the key ideas, theoretical frameworks, empirical findings and methodological approaches to the topic. Leading environmental policy scholars emphasize areas of emerging research and opportunities for future enquiry.
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Chapter 33: Sustainability and public policy

Kent E. Portney


This concept of sustainability has emerged as core idea in environmental policy and governance, and increasingly an organizing concept for decision making across many sectors of society. This chapter explores both the scientific and normative foundations of sustainability, and examines how it relates to the biophysical environment as well as to the public policies that are being developed to pursue the idea. The chapter considers many dimensions of sustainability, and argues that, while the ideas involved may seem amorphous, it has come to have many specific meanings. In practice, many notions of sustainability are now also being pursued by nations both individually and collectively, business firms large and small, and local governments and communities. These efforts are often part of broader efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, to manage the environmental impacts of industry and agriculture, and to incorporate principles of equity and justice into policymaking.

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