The Government and Environmental Policy

The purpose of the United States' public policy law is to implement restrictions
in an effort to solve problems, which can be seen with the Clean Water Act.
Public policy has also been employed to reform the Endangered Species Act of
1973. Although the United States government is noble in it's efforts to
preserve the environment through these acts, the internal structure of public
policy often retards these acts' effectiveness. This paper will explore the
many ways in which factors such as horizontal implementation, divided government,
and other forms of public policy affect the environmental legislation involved
with the aforementioned acts. The main factors involved with the Endangered
Species Act of 1973 involve horizontal implementation structure and divided
government. Before one can discuss how these policies affect environmental
legislation, a brief description of each must first be lucidly explained. When
our government was founded, a system of checks and balances was implemented
between the executive, judicial, and legislative branches to ensure that no one
part of government gets too much power. Although this limits the power of any
one person in government, it often slows down the ability of government because
a consensus can be difficult with so many people working together. Another
problem is that there are many subgovernments affecting the legislation as well,
such as interest groups like the Sierra Club, Administrative Agents like the
Environmental Protection Agency, and Congressional Committees. Because these
groups add to the total number of people working on the legislation, the
original noble ideology of making policy for the good of the nation is voided.
Also because there are so many differences of opinion, few drastic changes are
made, instead small incremental changes are made which take up lots of time and
retard the effectiveness and enforcement of the legislation. In addition to
this chaotic turmoil, four steps must be implemented in order to pass a bill.
These are initiation & definition, formulation & enactment (legitimation),
implementation, and evaluation.

The most relevant one of these steps is horizontal implementation when one
considers the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act. This policy is the
process that puts a law into effect after it has been legitimized. Congress and
the President set up the initial regulation of the law, but the direct
responsibility of regulation is turned over to the states involved. And, of
course, workset-like incentives such as taxes, fees, allowances, refunds, and
liability are used to enforce the laws effectively.

Horizontal implementation refers specifically to implementation with the federal
government, as opposed to vertical implementation which is at the state and
local levels. There are several specific concerns with horizontal
implementation which include the breakdown of coordination due to the large
structure of the federal government, language difficulties, lack of control due
to the threat of success by one particular agency, different perspectives, and
direct change of intention due to factors such as voter pressure. It's amazing
that in the midst of all this that anything can be accomplished at all, but
thanks to the drive to be re-elected, things have to get done on the federal
level or else the person in question will be renounced from power.

So now that a foundation of the processes controlling these acts has been
established, the question arises, what exactly is the Endangered Species Act?
As one author puts it, "The Endangered Species Act of 1973, perhaps more than
any other environmental law, dares to draw an unwavering line in the path of
American progress. It boldly says in essence, 'Thou shalt not cause any
species of plant or animal to go extinct.' As the rampart transformation of
natural America for exurban development, water-division projects, and timber
cutting- pushes more and more species to the wall, the act is embroiled in
controversy unparalleled since its passage 19 years ago." (Horton, pg. 68) A
few other factors of definition come into play when one considers the
intricacies of the Act. An animal is endangered if it is in danger of becoming
extinct throughout all or most of it's natural range in the wild. An animal is
threatened if it is very likely to fall into the endangered category in "the
foreseeable future". Endangered species have the possibility of generating
boundless resources for the human race including medical uses, research purposes,
and atmospheric contributions- namely oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis.
The act also sets aside land to protect endangered species. For example, many
acres of old growth forest have been set aside in an effort to preserve the
Northern spotted owl. So far, the act has been successful in helping to re-
establish populations of the American alligator, the California condor, the
Black-footed ferret, and many species of endangered sea turtles. But hundreds
of other species