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Conservatism and American Political Development$
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Brian J. Glenn and Steven M. Teles

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195373929

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373929.001.0001

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Environmental Policy from 1980 to 2008: The Politics of Prevention

Environmental Policy from 1980 to 2008: The Politics of Prevention

(p.223) Chapter 7 Environmental Policy from 1980 to 2008: The Politics of Prevention
Conservatism and American Political Development

Judith A. Layzer

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses environmental policy between 1980 and 2008. During this period, New Right conservatives sought to influence environmental politics and policy in two distinct but related ways. First, they tried to shape the political context by disseminating a multifaceted critique of environmentalism and environmental regulation, mobilizing grassroots groups, and filing strategic lawsuits. Second, they promoted the election of ideological sympathizers to Congress and the White House and the appointment of conservative judges to the federal courts. The main constraint on conservatives' ability to promote their agenda was public opinion, which remained broadly supportive of environmental protection throughout this period. After failing on several occasions to confront that consensus head on, conservative policymakers resorted to blocking new legislation; they also capitalized on the low visibility and arcane nature of rule making to make substantial changes in regulations and their implementation. By 2008, however, there were numerous signs that the dominance of U.S. environmental policy by New Right conservatives had run its course.

Keywords:   environmental regulation, conservatives, environmental policy, New Right

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