Environmental Policy

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The United States Congress has been gridlock with numerousenvironmental policies and regulations since the 1980s. The situationhas been faced by fewer environmental bills passed into law. TheCongress has maintained a folded hand over the past decadesespecially on the contemporary issues of global warming. However,between the 1960s and early 1980s (golden era) were the years ofjubilee for the environmental war in the United States (US). TheCongress made remarkable progress by passing 22 positives, andmeaningful laws. The laws were passed to fight water and airpollution. Besides, the laws helped to protect wildlife and ensuredthat there was efficient management of public and private lands(Klyza 2).

The decrees were passed with a strong bipartisan support putting thegovernment at the pivotal status in the overhaul of the emergentvalues and the newly found environmental interests. The governmentwas the custodian in shielding the environment from major pollutions.As a result, the policies become a focal point for politicalstruggles a state that made them vulnerable to many amendments thatwere sometimes controversial. The occurrence has created a gridlockin the Congress freezing and halting new environmental laws in thecountry. Different environmental organizations and agencies havesought substitute pathways to go beyond the gridlocks in a quest formore efficient customs to protect the environment. Such methodsinclude the use of court’s ruling and regulatory agencies toformulate environmental directives that facilitate the green state(Klyza 4). The essay discusses the alternative environmental policythat goes beyond the gridlocks in the Congress.

Beyondthe gridlock in Congress

Thegridlock in Congress has proved to be a long-lasting situation in theUnited States. Noteworthy, some agencies have come up withalternative means to evade the rascal situation that has iced up astep towards the environmental friendliness. The efforts andintentions of the alternative ways have thrilled in many cases assome have found their way into the must-pass congressionalappropriations and budgets, for example, the Oil and Gas drillingenactments in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Additionally, lawssuch the Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that was enacted to regulatethe pollutant gas in the environment has also come as a dodge ongridlock situation in the Congress (DiPeso 105). Lastly, businessinterest and environmental regulators have also tried to hammer outthe situation by creating collaborative agreements (Klyza 4).

Gridlock in Congress has had a significant impact on the quality ofair in the country. According to the Employee Assistant Program(EAP), most manufacturing and automobiles use oiled-fired energiesthat cause severe air pollution, and the compliance cost for theseindustries to seize using these fuels is estimated to be $2.5 billionper year (Silva 94). The expenditure has created a hotbed debatebecause some politicians and companies have come up with opposingviews towards the use of clean energy. Conversely, a study by theAmerican Coalition for Clean Coal Energy (ACFCCE) has argued thatfull adaptation of the Clean Air Act by promoting the Clean PowerPlants Act will reduce global temperature to 0.018 Celsius by theyear 2100 (Silva 95). This is a starting expedition towards thereduction of the global warming effects. Contrary, Republican-ledstates have frustrated and dragged down the implementations of Act byterming it as “war on coal.” They have objected the plan incourts and demonstrated against the unlawful expansion of EPAauthority under the Clean Air Act (Coburn 186). Their main argumentpoint is that the reduction in coal production will potentiallyincrease electricity bills and heighten the cost of industrialproduction in the country (Norman 45).

TheLower Bottoms of West Oakland in San Francisco County in CaliforniaState is one of the areas that have experienced high toxic airpollutions (Corburn 187) the situation is brought out by the dieselfumes from the automobile fumes, oil refineries, manufacturingindustries and processing industries. Some of those processingindustries include Richard Pacific Railroad Corporation, KinderMorgan, and Channel Lumber companies (Mintz 241). Inhabitants of thisarea are exposed to dangerous levels of toxic diesel pollution everyyear. As a result, the demography has experienced health-relateddiseases such as throat cancer and asthma. Following a line ofinvestigation done by the Pacific Institution of Oakland (PIO), theindoor air pollution in some residential homes is five times morethan the air toxicity in other parts of Oakland and San Francisco(Silva 65). On that note, the environmental organizations such asthe West Oakland Environmental Indicators (WOEI) and Oakland LandRevitalization (CWOR) have built on community ideas and regulators torestrain the situation in the area (Corbum 92).

Theresult policies formed the Cleaning the Air Act 2002 (Silva 93). Thepolicies advocated for a reduction in diesel pollution in the areaand recommended hosts of solutions to the menace in Lower Bottoms ofWest Oakland. Examples of the solutions include enforcement ofillegal truck trafficking, putting business and industries away fromresidential areas, developing clean power plants and putting theresidential home away from the ports and Army bases (Silva 90). Thesepolicies are aimed at reducing traffic, industries pollution andimproving the community health by providing clean air. The ClearingAir Act in West Oakland comes as the alternative pathways thatenvironmentalists have engineered to solve the contemporary airpollution issues in the region. The policy is part of the groundworkof the bigger course initiated by President Barack Obama regulatoryactions on climate change in 2009 (Norman 101). The presidentadvocates for the Clean Power Plant Act to reduce the emission ofcarbon dioxide (CO2) from coal and oil-fired plants by 32% by theyear 2030 (Hertwig 22).

Clearingthe Air policies have come to solve the disproportionate burden ofenvironmental pollution caused by diesel fume. The pollution iscaused by the trucks that transport products from the numerous portsand industries in the San Francisco Bay (Corburn 93). According toPacific Institution of Oakland (PIO), the containers trucks, ship andcranes carrying goods from the Port of Oakland’s have causedmassive air pollution estimated to be 90 times more than to any statein the US (Corburn 94). Additionally, truck pollution per square mileis estimated to be 127,677 per square mile. The scenario puts thearea residence at higher risk of 1 additional cancer victim per 1,000residents (Norman 94). As a result, the environmentalists haveadopted an assortment of ways to curb the hazard. Primarily, theyhave regulated the number of trucks entering the region. Although,the policy only affects new trucks and it may take several years totame the situation thoroughly. It has made tremendous steps inreducing air pollution in the area. The Oakland EnvironmentalIndicators Project (WOEIP) and the Coalition for West OaklandRevitalization (CWOR) have initiated clean air goals that emphasizethe reduction of truck traffic as one of the most efficient ways toachieve the clean air campaign (Norman 110).

Theenvironmentalists monitored and measured the particulates of thediesel fumes because diesel is more hazardous in vapor form than inthe liquid states. They took samples from various parts of the areausing an instrument called Aethalometer. The concept behind thetoolkit is the measurement of carbon black particles in the air thatpeople could inhale in their lungs. Basing on the evidence andresearch analysis the environmental agencies formulated policies thatcould adequately promote clean air in West Oakland and thesurrounding region. One of the recommendations in the enactment wasto enforce penalties on the truck prohibited routes in the area. Thecounty government of San Francisco prevented vehicles from passingsome routes especially routes that passed close to the residentialareas and endorsed Heavy penalties to drivers and companies thatbreak the rules (Norman 102). Residents were also involved indesigning and deciding the newly designated truck routes. The WestCoast Environmental Investment Partners Committee (WCEIPC) believedthat requiring residence will have a significant positive influencein the campaign against residential businesses, a factor that wouldtake business away from the residential areas and curtail airpollution (Mintz 243).

TheAct advocates for a variety of outcomes that related to the publichealth of the region and the surrounding areas. The result of thepolicy was a reduction of cases of lung cancer. The toxic had madearea residents vulnerable to lung cancer in an estimate of one newcancer victim per 1,000 residents compared to other regions in thecounty and the state (Norman 96). Another important outcome of thepolicy is the reduction of asthma-related cases. The dieselparticulates accumulate in the respiratory system of the human bodyblocking the air channels and consequently leading to Asthma. Thecampaign against fuel powered plants has drastically reduced thediesel reduce emission into the air resulting in less toxicity in theenvironment. The overall observable fact is that the Act has led tofewer greenhouse gasses reducing global warming and vital stepstowards environmental conservation (DiPeso 106).


In conclusion, the United States government only made relevant lawsto protect the environment in the years between the 1960s and 1980s.Since then, they have been no significant policies pertainingenvironmental menaces. The situation has been conveyed in by thepolitical struggles, industries selfish interest and the biased courtruling. Such participation by different groups has made the country’spolicies making body gridlock on environmental matters.Consequentially, many environmental agencies seeking to address theadversities of the environmental pollution and global warming havebeen forced to find alternative means such as businesscollaborations, the court ruling and use of the executive authority(president) to curb the environmental problems. The policies set inWest Oakland (Clearing the Air Act) are under of the major Clean AirAct in the US constitution. However, the Act has come with some twistand bends that have made it contradict the main enactment. Thescenario is a situational contraction meant to solve the contemporaryissues in the environment as the Act is supposed to protect thepeople of West Oakland from the increasing air pollution caused bythe automobiles and the coal-powered industries.


Corburn,Jason.&nbspTowardthe Healthy City: People, Places, and the Politics of Urban Planning.Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2009. Print

DiPeso,Jim. &quotEnergyand Environmental Politics: Gridlock As Usual In 2012.&nbspEnvironmentalQuality Management21.3(2012): 101-108.&nbspBusinessSource Complete.Web. 5 Aug. 2016.

Hertwig,Jana.&nbspGlobalRisks: Constructing World Order Through Law, Politics and Economics.Frankfurt am Main u.a.: Lang, 2010. Print

Klyza,Christopher McGrory, and David J. Sousa. Americanenvironmental policy: Beyond gridlock 1990-2006.MIT Press, 2003.

Mintz,Joel A. &quotThinking Beyond Gridlock: Towards a ConsistentStatutory Approach to Federal EnvironmentalEnforcement.&quot&nbspEnvironmentalLaw (00462276)&nbsp46.1(2016): 241-256.&nbspGreenFILE.Web. 5 Aug. 2016.

Norman,Vig and Kraft.: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century.8thEd (2013) ISBN-10: 145220330X ISBN-13: 978-1452203300.

Silva,Carlos N.&nbspCitizenE-Participation in Urban Governance: Crowdsourcing and CollaborativeCreativity.Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, 2013. Internet resource

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