The changing roles of environmental interest groups in national policy-making : a marine conservation case study Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/1831cn766

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  • Interest groups have participated in the American political system since the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Environmental interest groups, a subsection of the American interest group society, have been especially active in national policies since the proliferation of environmental laws and environmental advocacy in the 1960s and 1970s. When environmental laws were passed in the late 1960s, environmental interest groups were able to affect policy decisions through court action. These laws expanded a citizen's standing to sue and made it possible for environmental groups to use litigation to change environmental policies. Today, we are beginning to see environmental groups impact national policy decisions using alternative strategies in addition to their historically effective litigation options. This thesis examines environmental groups' new roles in national policy-making. Political science models describing how interest groups have affected national policies throughout history, including the iron triangle and issue network models, are discussed. Models describing how environmental groups fit into the policy process after the passage of environmental laws in the late 1960s and early 1970s is also included. A case study regarding the environmental community's ability to influence the fate of "The Coral Reef Bill" is used to illustrate environmental groups' new strategies and roles. The Coral Reef Bill, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in March of 2000, was intended to establish protection and research programs for coral reefs in U.S. waters. The bill was amended in a manner that changed its conservation implications, which raised a great deal of concern among environmental interest groups, specifically marine conservation groups. The environmental (marine conservation) community was instrumental in striking down this undesirable amendment. How the environmental interest groups were successful in affecting policy is demonstrative of their new roles in national policymaking. The current and future status of marine legislation, and the environmental community's potential role in future legislation, is also discussed.
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