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Weighing the Cost: Regulation and its Discontents in the 1970s

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Abstract:

Signed into law on the first day of the 1970s, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is widely considered one of the most consequential pieces of environmental legislation in U.S. history, primarily because of its “action forcing mechanism” – the requirement that federal agencies prepare environmental impact statements (EIS) for any major actions. NEPA’s drafters intended the EIS mechanism to force a consideration of economic growth’s toll on the environment. The first major test of NEPA came just three months later, as construction began on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and environmentalists filed suit against the Department of the Interior for an insufficient EIS. In the summer of 1973 Congress overrode NEPA just a few years after it passed the law, exempting the pipeline from environmental assessment and prioritizing energy development over environmental regulation. Just a few months after that the Yom Kippur War and an oil embargo by key OPEC nations plunged the U.S. into its first energy crisis of the decade.

This paper will examine two distinct but related debates to better understand Americans’ support for environmental regulation and fear of regulation’s economic costs: the debate over the Trans-Alaska Pipeline EIS and the debate over environmental regulation’s role in the energy crisis. The EIS process required public input, in which hundreds of individuals and organizations participated; the energy crisis prompted a public debate between industry, environmentalists, and regulators, on which many Americans weighed in. How did Americans balance the long-term good against the immediate harms of regulation, in a decade when federal oversight came increasingly under fire? This paper will consider how the same cost-benefit analysis, economic anxiety, and growing distrust of public institutions that shaped much public thought in the 1970s also shaped Americans’ relationship to natural resources.
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MLA Citation:

Woodhouse, Keith. "Weighing the Cost: Regulation and its Discontents in the 1970s" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171224_index.html>

APA Citation:

Woodhouse, K. "Weighing the Cost: Regulation and its Discontents in the 1970s" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171224_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: Signed into law on the first day of the 1970s, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is widely considered one of the most consequential pieces of environmental legislation in U.S. history, primarily because of its “action forcing mechanism” – the requirement that federal agencies prepare environmental impact statements (EIS) for any major actions. NEPA’s drafters intended the EIS mechanism to force a consideration of economic growth’s toll on the environment. The first major test of NEPA came just three months later, as construction began on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and environmentalists filed suit against the Department of the Interior for an insufficient EIS. In the summer of 1973 Congress overrode NEPA just a few years after it passed the law, exempting the pipeline from environmental assessment and prioritizing energy development over environmental regulation. Just a few months after that the Yom Kippur War and an oil embargo by key OPEC nations plunged the U.S. into its first energy crisis of the decade.

This paper will examine two distinct but related debates to better understand Americans’ support for environmental regulation and fear of regulation’s economic costs: the debate over the Trans-Alaska Pipeline EIS and the debate over environmental regulation’s role in the energy crisis. The EIS process required public input, in which hundreds of individuals and organizations participated; the energy crisis prompted a public debate between industry, environmentalists, and regulators, on which many Americans weighed in. How did Americans balance the long-term good against the immediate harms of regulation, in a decade when federal oversight came increasingly under fire? This paper will consider how the same cost-benefit analysis, economic anxiety, and growing distrust of public institutions that shaped much public thought in the 1970s also shaped Americans’ relationship to natural resources.


Similar Titles:
Regulating market entry of low-cost private schools in Sub-Saharan Africa: Towards a theory of private education regulation


 
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