The Politics of Real-World Environmentalism: Four Case Studies
My newly released book, Caribou and Conoco: Rethinking Environmental Politics in Alaska’s ANWR and Beyond (Lexington Books, 2008), provides the basis for this paper. In this paper, I aim to answer two questions by examining four case studies of the policy-making process: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; drilling on public lands in the Western United States and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico; along with a proposal to develop a commercial wind farm off the Massachusetts coast. First, what political and societal forces have shaped modern, contentious environmental-energy debates in the US? Second, what do the findings reveal about the way in which environmental-energy policies are made, about our institutions of government, and about the influences of the public versus elites in making policy? I find that partisan voting in Congress is a critical factor in policy shifts, especially when symbols are used to define policy issues. Further, public opinion and the print media remain important variables in defining issues leading to legislative policy victories. This analysis addresses debates that cross-cut political science, public policy studies, and communication/media studies.
Keywords: Political Science, Public Policy, Media, Communication, Environment, Energy
Dr. Robert McMonagle
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Arts & Sciences, Neumann College