Public Policy Paper 2 - Michael Rauch(000762014 TA...

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Michael Rauch (000762014) TA – Simone (Thursday 2:45) The issue of the environment has been important to many policy-makers since the 1850s. Various focusing events beginning during that time brang environmental issues to the forefront of policy-makers agendas. Focusing events are “sudden, relatively rare events that spark intense media and public attention because of their sheer magnitude or, sometimes, because of the harm they reveal” (Birkland, 118). Some of these events include the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the depletion of the ozone layer that was first brought to the public eye in the 1990s. Concern over the preservation of the environment dates back to 1849 when the U.S. commissioner of patents issued a warning that the wasting of timber and the slaughtering of buffalo was a mistake and would only do harm in the long run. Similar warnings would be issued throughout the decades of the 1850s and 1860s by other commissioners (Price, 155). During the early part of the 20 th Century, the focusing event that was the cause of environmental policy change was the ever increasing urbanization that was going on in the United States. Pollution of waters near big cities was especially of note to policy-makers (Price, 156). This instance can be represented in a story of decline. Such a story, in general terms, says “In the beginning, things were pretty good. But they got worse. In fact, right now, they are nearly intolerable. Something must be done.” (Stone, 138) Here, one can tell that before urbanization in the United States began, the amount of water pollution that existed was not great enough in quantity to incite policy change. During the urbanization process, the opposite became true. In response to the pollution problem, Congress passed legislation that restricted dumping refuse into Lake Michigan in or near Chicago in 1910 (Stone, 156). Chicago was one of the fastest growing urban areas in the United States at the time.
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