Environmental Politics and Policy
Research Paper Topics

The purpose of the three paper assignments for this class is to help you develop an expertise in the politics and policy of one particular U.S. environmental policy. First, you need to select an environmental policy area. I have compiled a list of important environmental legislation from various sources post 1977.  Pre 1977, the laws are idealist and pure or naïve and unrealistic depending on your perspective (not a single industry testifies against the Endangered Species Act of 1973? ).  America is not going to go back to the early 1970s period again, so you had best enter the real political jungle.   The ones after are the produce of political conflict and compromises.   

The question I always get is with so many options, how do I choose? 

1.  Pick an environmental disaster and see what legislation followed?
2.  Choose a topic (wildlife, oceans, pesticides, etc) and see what legislation exists.  The EPA's list of major environmental legislation is here. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) home page which lists all the various topics into broad categories athttp://www.epa.gov/epahome/topics.html.  The Congressional Research Service blog also a nice list of laws administered by the EPA here and environmental legislationenergy legislationagriculture legislation, and transportation legislation. They discuss current environmental issues in the context of existing legislation.
3.  Wikipedia-  Not a bad way to get a sense of what a law is about.

4.  Talk to me.

The List
1964 Wilderness Act
1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act  
1978 Uranium Mill-Tailings Radiation Control Act
1980 Asbestos School Hazard Detection and Control Act
1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund)
1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act
1984 Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Act
1986 Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act
1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act
1987 Nuclear Waste Policy Act, Amendments

1988 Ocean Dumping Ban Act
1988 Shore Protection Act
1984 Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments
1986 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments
1986 Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act
The Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) (1986)
1987 Clean Water Act Reauthorization
1989 North American Wetlands Conservation Act
1990 Oil Pollution Act
1990 Pollution Prevention Act
1990 Clean Air Act Amendments
1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
1992 Energy Policy Act
Chemical Safety Information, Site Security and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act Public Law 1999
Water Resources Development Act of 2000, (Florida Everglades Restoration)
Endangered Species Act, 1973; Amds, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1984, 1988
Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf Restoration Act 1990

Marine Mammal Protection Act amendments 1996
Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 
Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006
Colorado Wilderness Act (1980) 
Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act, 1980
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978
Central Idaho Wilderness Act of 1980
Washington Wilderness Act of 1984 
-any federal wilderness designation legislation such as the
2002 California Wild Heritage Act or the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Act
Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act 2000
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009
-any Wild and Scenic Rivers designation legislation
President George Bush
Clear Skies Initiative or Health Forest Initiative (see me on these)
Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004
2004 National Defense Authorization Act
2005 Energy Policy Act of 2005
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act 2005 SAFETEA-L
 2006 Amendments to Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act 
Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007
Barack Obama
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009
American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) (cap and trade legislation, passes House)
Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 (Sandy Relief)
Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012  " was a breakthrough in one sense: it was a law that both traditionally conservative freemarket groups and traditionally progressive environmental groups supported enthusiastically http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1249&context=delpf
The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy of the Gulf Coast Act of 2011 (RESTORE Act) – dealing with the Deepwater Horizons/BP oil spill
The Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill)
Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA)
The Natural Resources Provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) 2012 (the Transportation Bill)  http://blog.tstc.org/2012/07/02/federal-transportation-bill-a-disappointment-leaving-states-to-take-up-mantle-of-reform/


There are also a number of other pieces of legislation which are not environmental, but have significant environmental implications.
The Farm Bill- an omnibus piece of legislation renewed every 5 years which addresses a wide array of agriculture related issues

  1. Food Security Act of 1985
  2. Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990
  3. Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996
  4. Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002
  5. Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008

The Transportation Bill- an omnibus piece of legislation which addresses a wide array of agriculture related issues
Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987
 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (Ice-T)
 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21
 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).
 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) 2012 (the Transportation Bill)  http://blog.tstc.org/2012/07/02/federal-transportation-bill-a-disappointment-leaving-states-to-take-up-mantle-of-reform/

Water Resources Development Act are omnibus pieces of legislation that deal with water resources issues: environmental, structural, navigational, flood protection, hydrology, etc The often allocate money for dams, flood, navigation, wildlife, and shoreline protection issues. No one has written about one of these laws yet.

Environmental Justice
EO 12898: Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations
- this is not a law, but an executive order. You can write a paper about how and why attempt to pass a law failed and the Executive Order resulted.
Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act
Radiation Exposure Compensation Act,
-both laws address the exposures of Navajo to uranium mining; they have an EJ flavor; see here