Presidential Executive Orders and Environmental Policy
More attention has been paid to the legal and constitutional aspects of executive orders than to their political and public-policy dimensions. This study examines the uses of executive orders in the administrative presidency from the high point of environmental concern in the Nixon Administration to the Bush Administration. The focus is upon a handful of executive orders in which presidents exercised a discretionary role, either issuing orders dealing with environmental problems or, as in President Reagan's case, impacting on environmental concerns. Executive orders are also analyzed as an integral part of the Reagan administrative presidency strategy. For the most part, the executive orders analyzed are "twilight zone" cases in which no clear jurisdictional mandates for either the president or the Congress are charted by the Constitution. Some of the interacting political and legal factors that appeared to shape presidential decisions to issue orders are discussed. The problems of implementation of several executive orders are examined. Where possible, policy outputs are traced, such as the numbers of environmental impact statements and agency regulations filed in compliance with these presidential directives. Lastly, selected executive orders are analyzed to determine if there have been any important changes in the substantive or procedural aspects of environmental policy.
The Constitution contains no specific provisions for presidential authority to issue executive orders. They are generally issued to direct actions of governmental officials but may indirectly affect private individuals and groups. Orders have the force of law and the presumption of validity when issued under a valid claim of authority. But increasingly, orders have been promulgated under unclear claims of authority. Even