What is Policy?
Policy states the intent to achieve certain goals and objectives through a conscious choice of means. It is binding on all members of society. That is why policy is important to address, especially when talking about environmental issues. It affects us all. We all share this earth, we all breath from the same atmosphere, our actions are affecting people all over the world. America is leading the way in environmental degradation too.
This discussion in class (facilitated by Dr. Lindsay Lupo – PLNU Political Science Prof) was about how to regulate environmental actions. Or is it even possible? Do we need the government involved? What good is public policy?
I found this session interesting because I always wondered how effective lobbying or policy making really was. As voters, we are encouraged to meet with our state reps and voice our concerns and be involved in politics. I personally have been very apathetic about politics for most of my life. I see it as divisive and complex. Something I didn’t want to waste time on. But now, I’m not so sure.
Environmental Policy has been a contested issue since the 1970s.
I know what you were thinking… “yah, the Hippies were all about that environmental mumbo-jumbo…” If only, we’d listened to them back then.
Public Policy is “a stable course of action to deal with a public problem” (Dr. Lupo). The debate is over government intervention in a mostly private/market-based sector (in which environment issues tend to be).
So, what is the role of government with environmental stewardship?
Here’s the deal: we (the voters) don’t want the government to control us, yet we cant change to happen. So what do we do about this tension?
The government can protect, set standards, require compliance, and set limits on people to act in accordance with good environmental practices. Sometimes this is necessary because the private sector doesn’t always come through and act rightly.
But if we the people are seeking to hold others accountable to environmental standards, then we need to seek policies that help us, because the government has most of the power to make this a reality…
In my reading, I found policy making to be much more complicated than I thought. It is a slow process and faces much divided authority. It is often about good timing and enough generated interest. It is the people, the general public that generates this mass interest. I still have hope that people can make a difference, but we must make efforts to do so. Because when issues are highly visible in the public, then political leaders will act cohesively to support our causes…
That is the hope at least. The public interest all too often loses out.
But… there is still so much we can do:
- Write public officials
- Join interest groups
- Visit EPA website
- Attend rallies & demonstrations
- Attend city council meetings
- simply CARE!