Pluralism by Design: Environmental Policy and the American Regulatory State

By George Hoberg | Go to book overview

4
THE TRANSFORMATION OF AIR POLLUTION REGULATION, 1969-1975

As the late 1960s approached, the New Deal air pollution regime came under widespread attack. The new statutory framework established in 1967 was only beginning to be implemented when it was denounced as a wholesale failure. As the most visible pollution problem, air pollution policy became intensely politicized during the explosion of environmental awareness surrounding Earth Day. Public demands for cleaner air were considered so powerful that politicians clamored to take credit for reducing pollution. As a consequence, the Clean Air Act became caught up in a cycle of policy escalation, the result being an extremely stringent statute that departed from its predecessors in fundamental ways.

Air pollution policy-making became centralized at the federal level, as the new statute granted the Environmental Protection Agency powerful new policy instruments. The courts claimed a place in regulatory policymaking, on one occasion actually going as far as creating an entire new program for the agency to carry out. New groups of aggressive regulatory advocates exploded onto the political scene, pushing aside the more conciliatory professional health groups that had advocated the public interest in the old regime. The new groups seized on the procedural rights granted them by courts and Congress under the new administrative law, and hauled the agency into the courts in the attempt to force it to undertake more aggressive regulatory action.

This new regime constituted a major redistribution of power between industry and environmental interests. Once dominant in the regulatory

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