Environmental Politics in Japan, Germany, and the United States

By Miranda A. Schreurs | Go to book overview

3
The institutionalization of environmental
movements

The 1970s were the environmental decade in the US. Beginning with the sweeping changes to environmental laws that began with the passage in 1969 of the NEPA and the Clean Air Act amendments of 1970, Congress continued to pass one major new environmental law after the next. In 1972, Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act; the Federal Insecticide, Rodenticide, and Fungicide Act; the Noise Control Act; the Coastal Zone Management Act; and the Marine Mammals Protection Act. The following year, the Endangered Species Act was passed and in 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act. In 1976, Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Federal Land Management Act, and the National Forest Management Act. In 1977, the Clean Air and Water laws were expanded and in 1980, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund) was instituted.

As discussed in the previous chapter many changes also were made to environmental laws and institutions in Japan and Germany in the early 1970s, but the mid-1970s were a period of environmental policy stagnation. Over the course of the remainder of the decade, few new major environmental laws were established and there were several environmental setbacks. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil shock of 1973 was a major reason for the shift in attention away from the environment and back to the economy. Japan and Germany were especially heavily dependent on imported oil. Whereas in 1955, only 16.7 percent of Japan's energy supply was from oil, a shift away from coal to oil in the following decade meant that by 1973, 77.8 percent of Japan's energy was supplied by oil, close to 90 percent of which came from the Middle East. Germany also had a high dependence on oil. In 1973, 56.2 percent of Germany's energy was supplied by oil, essentially all of which was imported. The sudden sharp rise in imported oil prices dealt a sharp blow to both countries' economies. The US too, although less dependent than either Japan or Germany on imported oil, felt the impact of the embargo. 60

-60-

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