Green Politics: An A-to-Z Guide


Edited by: Dustin Mulvaney & Paul Robbins

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      About the Editors

      Green Series Editor: Paul Robbins

      Paul Robbins is a professor and the director of the University of Arizona School of Geography and Development. He earned his Ph.D. in Geography in 1996 from Clark University. He is General Editor of the Encyclopedia of Environment and Society (2007) and author of several books, including Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction (2010), Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are (2007), and Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction (2004).

      Robbins's research centers on the relationships between individuals (homeowners, hunters, professional foresters), environmental actors (lawns, elk, mesquite trees), and the institutions that connect them. He and his students seek to explain human environmental practices and knowledge, the influence nonhumans have on human behavior and organization, and the implications these interactions hold for ecosystem health, local community, and social justice. Past projects have examined chemical use in the suburban United States, elk management in Montana, forest product collection in New England, and wolf conservation in India.

      Green Politics General Editor: Dustin Mulvaney

      Dustin Mulvaney is a Science, Technology, and Society postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. His current research focuses on the construction metrics that characterize the life cycle impacts of emerging renewable energy technologies. He is interested in how life cycle assessments focus on material and energy flows and exclude people from the analysis, and how these metrics are used to influence investment, policy, and social resistance. Building off his work with the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition's “just and sustainable solar industry” campaign, he is looking at how risks from the use of nanotechnology are addressed within the solar photovoltaic industry. Mulvaney also draws on his dissertation research on agricultural biotechnology governance to inform how policies to mitigate risks of genetically engineered biofuels are shaped by investors, policymakers, scientists, and social movements.

      Mulvaney holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master of Science in Environmental Policy, and a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering, both from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Mulvaney's previous work experience includes time with a Fortune 500 chemical company working on sulfur dioxide emissions reduction, and for a bioremediation startup that developed technology to clean groundwater pollutants like benzene and MTBE.


      A hallmark of the past 100 years or so is the greening of political thought and practice. Today there are green political parties, green products, and green political institutions, all of which show how our decisions to organize, consume, and contribute are infused with green politics. Green politics has grown in the popular imagination as well. Everyday there are headlines about climate change, impacts of resource extraction, or chemical pollution in poor neighborhoods. Underlying all of these stories are classic political questions about power, representation, and values.

      This collection of entries comprises some of the essential concepts, actors, institutions, and processes in green politics today. It draws on several academic arenas from economics and political science to political ecology and sociology, and focuses on a range of green issues from industrial pollution to indigenous rights. We hope the collection will provide the necessary explanatory frameworks, hypotheses, and case studies to advance important conversations about a just and sustainable future for human civilization.

      Much of green politics is, at its root about sustainability, the notion that humans need to protect and conserve Earth's ecological and biogeochemical systems for the long run. Sustainability is a scientific and technical problem at the same time it is a cultural and political one. The difficult challenges we face today require engineers and scientists, but also those with an adept understanding of the political institutions, cultural norms, and social process that shape human civilization's relationship with the planet. It also requires a broader conception of green politics itself. Green politics is not simply about green political parties, environmental law, or deliberating citizen juries, but about everyday activities from deciding to buy organic food to riding a bus.

      In many ways green politics is about values. Over the past 100 years, much has been said in political discourse about how to value the nature and the environment. The early debates between conservationists and preservationists, pitted those who wanted to conserve nature for human use against those who sought to preserve nature for its own sake. The seemingly similar ends turn out to have very different outcomes as demonstrated by the political battle over Hetch Hetchy, a large dam placed in the sister valley to Yosemite. John Muir wanted to preserve the valley to inspire future generations, while Gifford Pinchot and others wanted to use the valley for a dam to bring water 300 miles to San Francisco for drinking water and to provide an adequate water supply to fight fires like the one that destroyed the city after the 1906 earthquake.

      While this moment illustrates a triumph of conservation over preservation, in reality much of the 20th century saw an exponential growth in areas preserved. This was not simply a U.S. affair either. Vast areas were protected in the tropics and developing countries in the latter part of the 20th century, in many cases pointing to inequitable enclosures of farmers or indigenous lands. The gap between preservation and conservation is being bridged as new forms of ecosystem protection have moved beyond the people versus parks divide and to more integrated approaches to ecosystem protection with multiple levels of human interaction.

      The popularization of green politics is often attributed to the New Yorker's serialization of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. This widely read work challenged the chemical corporation's assessments of their own pesticides and attributed high rates of cancer and bird population declines to the use of persistent chemical pesticides. Carson faulted a lack of government regulation for overuse of chemicals. This and several other notable moments in the 1960s—the Cuyahoga River fire, the oil spill in Santa Barbara—led to the passage of major environmental legislation in the United States including the National Environmental Policy, Endangered Species, and Clean Air, and Clean Water acts.

      Green politics continued its ascent after another wave of toxics controversies and the emergence of the environmental justice movement. The toxic waste stories out of Love Canal led to the passage of new laws for hazardous waste and provided ammunition for those fighting for environmental justice in some of the country's poorest areas near incinerators, landfills, and petrochemical refineries. These environmental justice groups point to the disproportionate burden of toxic chemicals in their industrialized communities and have helped passed some of the strongest community “right to know” laws in the world.

      The greening of politics is evident in the United States in and around Washington, D.C. In the 2008 presidential contest, the green jobs discourse slowly became common tongue by both major political parties. More recently, Congress on both sides of the isles are talking about green jobs as in the midst of an economic recession, showing how the notion that the triple bottom line—protecting jobs, people, and the planet—has gained prominence in the mainstream political discussions, even as adherence to the idea is in and of itself a political act.

      Green politics has also gone from the local to the global. From anti-dam movements in India to e-waste activism in Ghana, there is a burgeoning environmental justice movement in the developing world. Despite Lawrence Summers's claim that the third world is vastly underpolluted, these countries are seeking out their own space to make claims about what should and should not be exported to impoverished parts of the planet.

      The global character of green politics is also represented in the various global treaties and institutions that have been created over the past century: The Montreal Protocol, the Basel Convention, and the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The December 2009 UNFCCC's Conference of the Parties 15 (COP 15) in Copenhagen was one of the most widely covered international environmental negotiations. The Copenhagen Accord—produced in parallel to the UNFCCC process by the United States, India, South Africa, and China—further illustrates the complexity of international environmental negotiations. While getting these countries to commit to emission reductions, thorny questions remain about the extent of emission reductions, cap and trade versus carbon tax, the balance of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” and a timetable to achieve emissions reductions. Other outcomes from COP 15 that demonstrate its global significance and complexity include an agreement to reduce emissions from deforestation and a pledge from developed countries of $100 billion annually to help decarbonize developing countries. While the former is seen as a success, concerns that the World Bank will administer the latter fund has left some suspicious because of past projects that have caused environmental harms or exacerbated poverty.

      Assigning blame for environmental problems is also inherently political. Of the more contentious ideas in green politics are Malthusianism and “the tragedy of the commons.” Malthusian explanations for environmental degradation focus on overpopulation as its root cause at the expense of the high rates of consumption in industrialized countries. Such positions are criticized for placing the burden on the world's poorest, while the developed world continues to consume unabated. Likewise, the tragedy of the commons, the idea that a lack of property rights will cause users to overuse a resource, implies that commodification of everything is the solution to what are otherwise environmental externalities. So where green politics is a struggle between privatization and cooperation, it is important to note that the different policy tools imply different kinds of political assumptions about how the world works. Neoliberal approaches focus on the market as the most efficient means of protecting resources, while the deep ecologists, anarchists, ecosocialists, counter-culturalists, pragmatists, and ecofeminists would each have their own say about the best means to achieve those goals.

      Green political discourse has become commonplace, but just how we engage in green politics raises some critical questions. Who gets to participate in green politics? Who does green politics represent? This volume seeks to open a dialog about the shape and trajectory of green political thought as it increasingly becomes a part of our everyday lives. As you will find, all shades of green are not created equal.

      DustinMulvaney General Editor

      Reader's Guide

      List of Articles

      List of Contributors

      Amar, Shaista Consuelo University of Houston–Downtown

      Arney, Jo A. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse

      Babou, Codandapani Adhiparasakthi Agriculture College

      Baruah, Mitul State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

      Beder, Sharon University of Wollongong

      Birchler, Susan Northern Virginia Community College

      Böcher, Michael Georg-August-University

      Bohr, Jeremiah University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

      Borne, Gregory University of Plymouth

      Boslaugh, Sarah Washington University in St. Louis

      Bremer, Leah San Diego State University

      Bruggeman, James Independent Scholar

      Carr, David L. University of California, Santa Barbara

      Chatterjee, Sudipto HSG, Sagar University

      Chiaviello, Anthony R. S. University of Houston–Downtown

      Coleman, Jill S. M. Ball State University

      Collins, Timothy Western Illinois University

      Darby, Kate Arizona State University

      Davidsen, Conny University of Calgary

      de Souza, Lester Independent Scholar

      Downie, David Fairfield University

      Dudley, Michael Quinn University of Winnipeg

      Duffy, Lawrence University of Alaska, Fairbanks

      Eatmon, Thomas D., Jr. Allegheny College

      Edwards, Ferne Australian National University

      Evans, Tina Lynn Fort Lewis College

      Eysenbach, Derek University of Arizona

      Farley, Kathleen A. San Diego State University

      Finley-Brook, Mary University of Richmond

      Futrell, W. Chad Cornell University

      Gareau, Brian J. Boston College

      Gopakumar, Govind Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

      Graddy, Garrett University of Kentucky

      Gunter, Michael M., Jr. Rollins College

      Hards, Sarah University of York

      Harper, Gavin D. J. Cardiff University

      Harrington, Jonathan Troy University

      Holden, Madronna Oregon State University

      Holst, Arthur Mathew Widener University

      Howell-Moroney, Michael University of Alabama at Birmingham

      Hurst, Kent University of Texas at Arlington

      Ilangovan, Kumaraswamy Pondicherry University

      Jain, Priyanka University of Kentucky

      Jinnah, Sikina Brown University

      Karlsson, Rasmus Lund University

      Kedzior, Sya Buryn University of Kentucky

      Kelly, Jessica Millersville University

      Kinsella, William J. North Carolina State University

      Kirchhoff, Christine J. University of Michigan

      Köppel, Martin Independent Scholar

      Krishnan, Sinduja Centre for Environment Education

      Kte'pi, Bill Independent Scholar

      Leonard, Liam Institute of Technology, Sligo

      Long, Andrew Florida Coastal School of Law

      Lopes, Paula Duarte University of Coimbra

      Makdisi, Karim American University of Beirut

      Matthews, Todd L. University of West Georgia

      Moran, Sharon State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

      O'Sullivan, John Gainesville State College

      Patnaik, Rasmi Pondicherry University

      Plec, Emily Western Oregon University

      Pokrant, Bob Curtin University of Technology

      Poyyamoli, Gopalsamy Pondicherry University

      Roka, Krishna Penn State University

      Schmook, Birgit El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)

      Schnurr, Matthew Dalhousie University

      Siry, Christina Manhattanville College

      Smith, Susan L. Willamette University College of Law

      Snell, Carolyn University of York

      Soria, Carlos Antonio Martin Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina/Instituto del Bien Comun

      Terrizzi, Alexis Fairfield University

      Vachta, Kerry E. Wayne State University

      Valdivia, Gabriela University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

      van Bueren, Ellen M. Delft University of Technology

      Van Hooreweghe, Kristen City University of New York

      Waskey, Andrew Jackson Dalton State College

      Woods, Mark University of San Diego

      Yandle, Bruce Clemson University

      Yuhas, Stephanie University of Denver

      Zimmermann, Petra A. Ball State University

      Zivian, Anna Milena University of California, Santa Cruz

      Green Politics Chronology

      500 Roman cannon of law, the Justinian Code, establishes “sun rights” to ensure that all buildings have access to the sun's warmth after a long-standing practice of building south-facing windows on buildings to keep them comfortable in the winter.

      1306 English King Edward I unsuccessfully tries to ban open coal fires in England, marking an early attempt at national environmental protection. Legend has it that his mother's constant complaining over the thick smoke clouding London leads to the attempted legislation.

      1347–1350 In just 3 short years, the Bubonic Plague, a disease transferred from rats to humans, spreads across European trade routes, engulfing the continent and decimating over one-third of the population.

      1600s The Dutch master drainage windmills, moving water out of low-lying lands to make farming available. During the Protestant Reformation, they use windmill positions to communicate to Catholics, indicating safe places for asylum.

      1690 Progressive Governor William Penn requires that 1 acre of forest be saved for every 5 that is cut down in the newly formed city of Philadelphia.

      1800s Advances in agricultural and urban technology lead to the First Industrial Revolution. Unprecedented amounts of toxins are released into the air and water. Later in the century, scientists begin to study the possibility of certain chemicals contributing to an increase in Earth's average temperature—a process now referred to as global warming.

      1862 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln creates the Department of Agriculture, charged with promoting agriculture production and the protection of natural resources.

      1879 The U.S. Geological Survey is established, responsible for examining national geological structure and natural resources.

      1912 In one of the nation's earliest efforts to curb industrial and urban waste, the U.S. Congress passes the Public Health Service Act of 1912, which gave significant funding to the U.S. Public Health Service to study problems such as sewage, sanitation, and pollution.

      1914–1918 World War I rages throughout Europe. Nations begin to master industrial technologies, and the modern military–industrial complex is born.

      1920 The Federal Power Act establishes the Federal Power Commission, an independent agency responsible for coordinating federal hydropower development. The commission is later given authority over natural gas facilities and electricity transmission. It is eventually overtaken by the Department of Energy.

      1929–1970 Venezuela is the world's top oil exporter.

      1932 The nucleus of an atom is split for the first time in a controlled environment by physicists John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton under the direction of Ernest Rutherford.

      1939 In August, a letter is drafted by Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard, signed by American Albert Einstein, and addressed to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, advising the president to fund nuclear fission research as means to create a weapon in the event that Nazi Germany may already be exploring the possibility. In September, Germany invades Poland, beginning World War II. In October, a secret meeting results in the creation of the Advisory Committee on Uranium for the purpose of securing the element and using it in research to create an atomic weapon.

      1940 The British MAUD (Military Application of Uranium Detonation) Committee is established for the purposes of investigating the possibility of using uranium in a bomb. The next year they publish a report detailing specific requirements for its creation.

      1942 The Manhattan Engineering District, also known as the Manhattan Project, is established by the Army Corps of Engineers, directed by physicist Robert Oppenheimer. The project makes the development of a nuclear weapon a top army priority and begins to outline methods for construction, testing, and transportation of an atomic bomb.

      1945 In July, the world's first nuclear explosion—the “Trinity” test—occurs in the desert of New Mexico. In August, American forces detonate two atomic bombs on Japanese soil. The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were effectively obliterated, losing 140,000 and 80,000 lives, respectively. In the following week, Japan surrenders to Allied powers.

      1954 The first Russian nuclear power plant opens.

      1955–2003 First proposed in 1955 as the Air Pollution Control Act and later as the Clean Air Act of 1963, the Air Quality Act of 1967, the Clean Air Act Extension of 1970, and the Clean Air Act Amendment of 1977 and 1990 all enact similar legislation regarding hazardous emissions into the atmosphere. Eventually, the Clean Air acts are met with criticism because of their bureaucratic methods. The Clear Skies Act of 2003 amends much of the previous legislation. A significant amount of the new provisions are directed toward energy companies.

      1962 Experimental developments into satellite communications between America and Britain, across the Atlantic Ocean, prove successful when Telstar 1 is launched. The world's first working communication satellite delivers transatlantic phone calls, television pictures, and fax messages between the United States and the United Kingdom.

      1962 Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is a national phenomenon, first published in serial form in the New Yorker and then as a hardcover best seller. This exhaustively researched, carefully reasoned attack on the indiscriminate use of pesticides sparks a revolution in public opinion.

      1965 Young lawyer Ralph Nader writes Unsafe at Any Speed, an investigation revealing hazards in American automobiles. The book sparks public outrage and influences policy makers to pass laws requiring all cars to have seatbelts. Publicity derived from the book's success gives Mr. Nader a national stage for nonpartisan policy.

      1970 Earth Day is made a national holiday to be celebrated on April 22 each year. It is founded by U.S Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in. Today, Earth Day is celebrated by dozens of countries throughout the world.

      1970 On the first Earth Day, the Clean Air Extension Act of 1970 is signed into law by the U.S. Congress. Although previous air pollution legislation already existed, the act is immediately recognized as a benchmark for the environmentalist movement by being the first major environment protection law that includes a provision for civil lawsuits. It also sets a standard for all new vehicles to be certified as meeting auto emission standards.

      1970 U.S. Congress passes the National Environmental Policy Act, establishing a national policy promoting the enhancement of the environment and creating the President's Council on Environmental Quality as a chief advisor on environmental issues. The most influential part of the act requires all federal agencies to prepare environmental assessments and environmental impact statements documenting the effects of their proposed actions.

      1970 As concern with the condition of the physical environment intensifies, U.S. President Nixon creates the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce federal environmental regulations. The agency's mission is to regulate chemicals and protect human health by safeguarding air, land, and water. The principle roles of the new agency include the establishment and enforcement of environmental protection standards consistent with national environmental goals; the conduct of research on the adverse effects of pollution and on methods and equipment for controlling it; the gathering of information on pollution and the use of this information in strengthening environmental protection programs and recommending policy changes; assisting others, through grants, technical assistance, and other means, in arresting pollution of the environment; and assisting the Council on Environmental Quality in developing and recommending to the president new policies for the protection of the environment.

      1970 Several months after its creation, the EPA opens its doors, with Department of Justice lawyer William Doyle Ruckelshaus as the first administrator. During the EPA's formative years, Ruckelshaus concentrates on developing the new agency's organizational structure, taking enforcement actions against severely polluted cities and industrial polluters, setting health-based standards for air pollutants and standards for automobile emissions, requiring states to submit new air quality plans, and banning of general use of the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). Mr. Ruckelshaus later serves as acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

      1970 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is created for the purpose of developing efficient ways of using the country's marine resources.

      1971 The EPA announces the final publication of National Air Quality Standards for six common classes of pollutants—sulfur oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, photochemical oxidants, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons. The emission standards are seen as very strict, and many industries are forced to develop new practices to avoid exceeding the standard. To comply, the city of New York must increase natural gas usage by 300 percent.

      1971 U.S. and British scientists begin development of the first wave energy system.

      1972 The world's first national environmentalist party, or green party, is formed as the Values Party in New Zealand. Party leaders never get elected to national office but manage to hold local positions.

      1972 An outright ban on the use of the pesticide DDT is made by the EPA. In the previous 30 years, the widespread domestic use of the chemical is approximated at 675,000 tons, most of it applied to cotton.

      1973 The Arab Oil Embargo begins as a response to the U.S. decision to supply the Israeli military during the Yom Kippur War between Arab nations and Israel.

      1973 Aware that vehicles that pass certification standards often fall below those standards after extended use, the EPA regulates required warning systems, including dashboard lights and buzzers, designed to alert drivers that maintenance is required in ordered reduce toxic emissions.

      1973 Lead-based gasoline begins to be phased out of the American economy as a result of concern over public health standards.

      1974 The U.S. Department of Energy forms a branch dedicated to national research and development of solar energy—the Solar Energy Research Institute.

      1974 After sharp increases in the price of oil from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries leads to a major American energy crisis, the Energy Reorganization Act is signed into law, replacing the Atomic Energy Commission with the Energy Research and Development Administration, responsible for oversight of nuclear weapons, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, responsible for commercial nuclear safety. The act also requires the future creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, set to contain 1 million barrels of oil. Because of the same crisis, the U.S. government begins federally funding wind energy research through NASA and the Department of Energy, coordinated by the Lewis Research Center. Under harsh criticism for failing to avoid the crisis, The EPA writes an extensive position paper, identifying the individual household demand of oil as a much larger problem than any single agency can effectively curb.

      1974 U.S. Congress passes the Safe Drinking Water Act, putting into motion a new national program to reclaim and ensure the purity of the water consumption. Under the act, each level of government, every local water system, and the individual consumer have well-defined roles and responsibilities.

      1975 The Soviet Union and United States discuss joint research opportunities. A multinational agreement, signed in Moscow, leads to joint efforts by the two nations in 11 environmental areas of interest. These include research in the exchange of techniques for building pipelines in areas where the ground is always frozen, measuring the effects of pollutants on life in the ocean, developing methods for protecting such endangered species, and developing methods for control of air and water pollution.

      1975 The U.S. government effectively cuts aid to companies in violation of pollution regulation, such as the Clean Air or Water acts. Federal agencies begin withholding contracts, grants, or loans to industrial and manufacturing plants, and various other facilities.

      1975 In another response to the energy crisis, Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations are passed by the U.S. Congress, intending to improve the average fuel economy of consumer vehicles. In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences reviews the regulations and finds they are responsible for a decrease in motor vehicle consumption by 14 percent.

      1976 A specially built radiation monitoring van begins touring major metropolitan areas, reporting on the intensity of radiation, primarily emitting from television and radio transmitters.

      1976 Passed by U.S. Congress, the Toxic Substance Control Act creates an inventory of regulated chemicals, including asbestos and lead. Any new chemical must be submitted to the EPA before it is manufactured.

      1976 The U.S. Congress passes the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a landmark bill regulating the disposal of solid and other hazardous waste, after a period of increased municipal and industrial expansion leads to dangerous volumes of waste. Amending the Solid Waste Act of 1965, the new laws set national goals for protecting human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal, conserving energy and national resources, reducing the amount of waste generated, and ensuring that waste is managed in an environmentally safe manner. The act is expanded and strengthened in 1984.

      1977 With the United States still reeling from the oil crisis, the U.S. Department of Energy is created. The new department will coordinate several already established programs, assuming the responsibilities of Energy Research and Development Administration. The Energy Information Administration is responsible for independent energy statistics. The Office of Secure Transportation provides secure transportation for nuclear weapons and materials. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is given jurisdiction over commercial energy including electricity and natural gas, as well as managing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

      1977 The U.S. Congress passes the Clean Water Act 1977, which made major amendments to previous water pollution laws. The new legislation outlaws any discharge of hazardous waste into American waters and is eventually made more stringent with the Water Quality Act of 1987.

      1978 The EPA and Department of Transportation join forces to help cities combat transportation pollution and improve air quality standards. The two agencies develop guidelines for urban planning, including increased public transportation and car pooling.

      1978 The United States and Canada sign an agreement calling for programs and measures to further abate pollution in the Great Lakes, which are spread across the border.

      1978 In a final measure to avoid another energy crisis like the one that began in 1973, the National Energy Act of 1978 is passed by the U.S. Congress. It includes a host of new statues attempting to redefine how the country secures, consumes, and comprehends energy. One of the most influential laws passed as part of the act, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), promotes the greater use of renewable energy. The law regulates a market for renewable energy products, forcing electric utility companies to purchase from these suppliers at a fixed price. In maybe the most significant result of PURPA, cogeneration plants become the industry standard. These new plants, encouraged by the act, generate electricity as well as usable steam, which is otherwise wasted. Another law enacted under the National Energy Act, the National Energy Conservation Policy Act, requires utility companies to employ energy management strategies designed to curb the demand for electricity. Another law enacted gives an income tax credit to private residents who use solar, wind, or geothermal sources of energy. Also created is the “gas guzzler tax,” which makes the sale of vehicles with a gas mileage below a specified EPA-estimated level liable to fiscal penalty. The Power Plant and Industrial Fuel Use Act and the Natural Gas Policy Act are also passed as part of the National Energy Act.

      1979 The Coordination of European Green and Radical Parties forms to coordinate many minority parties throughout the continent. By 1989, green parties would win 26 seats on the European Parliament.

      1979 The EPA issues final regulations banning the manufacture and use of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a highly toxic substance widely used in industrial electrical equipment. PCBs are known to cause cancer and birth defects. The EPA estimates that 150 million pounds of the now outlawed substance is dispersed in domestic air, food, and water supplies, with an additional 290 million pounds stored in landfills.

      1979 The German Green Party develops the Four Pillars, which become foundations for green policy groups worldwide. The pillars are ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence.

      1979 New environmental guidelines, known as the “Bubble Policy,” are introduced to entice U.S. companies to explore ways of reducing environmental protection costs. The chemical giant the DuPont Corporation releases a report indicating that they may be able to cut air pollution expenditures from $139 million to $55 million.

      1979 Nearly 700 families from the State of New York are displaced from their homes after being exposed to toxic wastes deposited by Hooker Chemical Company.

      1980 The U.S. Congress signs the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, better known as “Superfund.” The new laws are designed to enforce the cleaning of hazardous waste sites. Broad authority is given to the EPA to assess the threat of release of any hazardous substance that may endanger public health or the environment and to remedy the situation using federal resources. In the following year, 114 sites are listed as top priorities for Superfund legislation.

      1980 A partial core meltdown occurs at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station, releasing radioactive gases into the Pennsylvania air. An investigation later concludes that no adverse health effects will be perceptible to the community.

      1980 U.S. President Jimmy Carter signs the Energy and Security Act of 1980. It consists of six main groups of acts titled U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation, Biomass Energy and Alcohol Fuels, Renewable Energy Resources, Solar Energy and Conservation Act, Geothermal Energy, and Ocean Thermal Energy.

      1980 As part of the Energy and Security Act, U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation is created to provide a viable market for domestically produced, man-made liquid fuel. Their goal is produce 2 million barrels a year within 5 years. In 1985, the corporation is abolished.

      1980 The Crude Oil Windfall Profits Act creates what is technically an “excise tax” imposed on the difference between the market price of oil and a base price that is adjusted for inflation. It also increases tax credits for businesses using renewable energy.

      1981 The EPA announces that 16 states have the authority to manage their own hazardous waste programs—the first states to manage waste independent of direct federal control.

      1980 The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is formed as a nonprofit organization. Their mission is to advance energy efficiency as a fast, cheap, and effective means of meeting energy challenges. The agency works on a state and federal level helping shape energy policy in favor of energy conservation, focusing on the end-use efficiency in industry, utilities, transportation, and human behavior.

      1982 All U.S. public, private, and secondary schools are required to test for asbestos in their buildings.

      1983 The EPA orders the immediate emergency suspension of ethylene dibromide (EDB) as a soil fumigant for agricultural crops.

      1984 The EPA and Department of Defense sign a joint resolution pledging cooperative efforts in safeguarding the quality of Chesapeake Bay waters off the nation's eastern coast.

      1984 The Green Committees of Correspondence is the first green political organization in the United States. Its mission is to coordinate many local green groups into a unified party, run for public office, create watchdog groups, and publish green literature.

      1984 Disaster occurs in the Indian city of Bhopal as the Union Carbide pesticide plant releases some 42 tons of toxic gas, exposing more than 500,000 people to the hazardous substance. The immediate death toll is tallied at 2,259, and an estimated 8,00010,000 are killed within 72 hours of the accident. Recognized as the world's worst industrial disaster, later reports approximate the total death toll at approaching 25,000 and anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 related permanent injuries and adverse health effects. The incident gains worldwide attention and sparks international determination toward safeguarding industry.

      1984 U.S. President Reagan signs the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Act, which authorizes $600 million in federal loans and grants to schools with severe asbestos hazards and demonstrated financial need.

      1985 The EPA redefines policy for air toxins, identifying hazards from multiple sources instead of regulating individual pollutants.

      1986 The most significant nuclear meltdown in history occurs in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The entire area is subject to nuclear fallout. With thousands of local residents unable to evacuate, generations of families suffer from intense radiation.

      1986 Despite concerns over the efficiency of the program, Superfund is amended and reauthorized to incorporate recommendations made in the years following its inception.

      1987 With an approaching deadline for regulations enacted by the Clean Air Act that many states do not seem prepared to satisfy, EPA administrator Lee M. Thomas writes an open letter to the 42 state governors. The letter outlines proposed plans for delinquent states, saying that “much long-term planning will need to be done to bring about necessary changes in some of the worst areas.” The EPA also estimates that about 70 percent of the nation is not meeting ozone pollution standards.

      1987 The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act authorizes the Department of Energy to set minimum efficiency standards for space-conditioning equipment and other larger energy-consuming appliances each year, based on what is “technologically feasible and economically justified.” Televisions are originally part of the act's regulations but are later removed.

      1988 The EPA issues comprehensive, stringent requirements for the nearly 2 million underground storage tanks, about half of which are used to store gasoline at service stations. Reports conclude that these tanks are susceptible to corrosion and eventual leakage into water supplies.

      1989 The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is signed as an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out several substances that are known to be responsible for its harm. Analysis of the agreement claims that if the treaty is adhered to, the ozone layer will successfully recover by 2050.

      1990 The U.S. Congress passes the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, requiring the EPA to establish an Office of Pollution Prevention, develop and coordinate a pollution prevention strategy, and develop source reduction models. The act requires owners and operators of manufacturing facilities to report annually on source reduction and recycling activities.

      1991 The U.S. federal government mandates that all of its agencies recycle reusable materials generated from wastes from federal activities. The executive order also encourages an efficient market for items produced using recycled materials.

      1991 U.S. President George Bush announces that the Solar Energy Research Institute has been designated the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Its mission is to develop renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies and practices, advance related science and engineering, and transfer knowledge and innovations to addressing the nation's energy and environmental goals by using scientific discoveries to create market-viable-alternative energy solutions.

      1992 Under President Clinton, the Energy Policy Act of 1992 is passed by the U.S. Congress. It is organized under several titles enacting legislation on such subjects as energy efficiency, conservation, and management; electric motor vehicles; coal power and clean coal; renewable energy; alternative fuels; natural gas imports and exports; and various others. Among the new directives is a section that designates Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a permanent disposal site for radioactive materials from nuclear power plants. It also reforms the Public Utility Holding Company Act to help prevent an oligopoly and provides further tax credits for using renewable energy.

      1992 Energy Star is established as a unified standard for energy efficient consumer products. The Energy Star logo begins to appear on things such as computers, kitchen appliances, laundry equipment, air conditioners, lighting, and various other energy-saving products. Consumers who own Energy Starendorsed products can expect a 20 percent to 30 percent reduction in energy usage.

      1992 The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, known as the Earth Summit, is marked as a watershed moment in environmental history. The conference, held in Rio de Janeiro, also represents a diplomatic breakthrough, opening up the possibility for a new era of global economic growth coupled seriously with environmental stewardship. More than 150 countries make commitments to decrease greenhouse gases and address global warming prevention. The most influential part of the agreements, Agenda 21, establishes a global consensus on nearly all forms of pollution in the atmosphere, oceans, and other global resources.

      1994 U.S. federal action is taken to address environmental justice in minority populations and low-income populations.

      1996 The predecessor to the Green Party of the United States, the Association of State Green Parties, nominates attorney and political activist Ralph Nader and Native American environmentalist Winona LaDuke for president and vice president, respectively, for the upcoming election. The pair makes the ballot in 22 states and wins 0.7 percent of the popular vote.

      1997 New comprehensive regulations are issued in the regulation of pesticides. Children are of particular importance in the Food Quality and Protection Act.

      2000 The EPA propose a dramatic reduction in the sulfur content in diesel fuels after reports find nearly 15,000 deaths annually associated with soot and smog, mainly from trucks. The EPA also cites diesel fuel pollution as responsible for some 400,000 cases of asthma attacks in the country each year.

      2000 The Biomass Research and Development Board is created as part of a U.S. Congress act attempting to coordinate federal research and development of bio-based fuels obtained from living (as opposed to long dead, fossil fuels) biological material, such as wood or vegetable oils. Biofuel industries begin to expand in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

      2000 The Green Party again nominates Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke for president and vice president, respectively. They draw 2.7 percent of the national vote, one of the strongest showings from a third party in recent American history. The winner of the election, George W. Bush, narrowly edges out incumbent Vice President Al Gore in one of the closest presidential elections in the history of the office. Critics later speculate that had Mr. Nader not been on the ballot, Al Gore would have won. After the success of the election, the Green Party reorganizes and identifies their “10 Key Values” “Ecological Wisdom,” “Global Responsibility,” and “Future Sustainability” are all on the list.

      2001 The U.S. Congress signs the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs include already-outlawed—but still used—toxins such as PCBs and DDT.

      2001 After the attacks of September 11, the EPA begins to coordinate extensively with the newly created Department of Homeland Security, refocusing their stance on environmental issues as a matter of national security.

      2003 In his State of the Union address, U.S. President Bush announces a $1.2 billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative to reverse the nation's growing dependence on foreign oil by developing the technology needed for commercially viable hydrogen-powered fuel cells. “A single chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen,” the president tells the nation “generates energy, which can be used to power a car, producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.” The initiative will include $720 million in new funding over the next 5 years to develop the technologies and infrastructure to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles and electricity generation.

      2003 The Clean School Bus USA program is announced by the EPA, ordered to reduce diesel exhaust exposure to nearly 24 million American children who spend, on average, an hour and a half on school buses each day.

      2004 U.S. President Bush's new budget includes $288.2 million for Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program, an increase of $11.2 million above the president's fiscal year 2003 request. By improving the energy efficiency in homes, the program will reduce the energy bills of approximately 126,000 low-income families nationwide in 2003.

      2004 The European Green Party is formed from similar separate organizations, refocused on green politics, environmental responsibility, diversity, social justice, inclusive democracy, and nonviolence. The group now includes nearly every member of the European Union, including England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, and Spain.

      2005 The Energy Policy Act is passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by George W. Bush, making sweeping reforms in energy legislation, mostly in the way of tax deductions and subsidies. Loans are guaranteed for innovative technologies that avoid greenhouse gases, and alternative energy resources such as wind, solar, and clean coal production are given multimillion dollar subsides. For the first time, wave and tidal power are included as separately identified renewable technologies. On the local level, individual tax breaks are given to Americans who make energy conservation improvements in their homes. However, total tax reductions greatly favor nuclear power and fossil fuel production, and the bill is later met with criticism. During the 2008 Democratic Primary, candidate Senator Hillary Clinton dubs it the “(Vice President) Dick Cheney lobbyist energy bill.”

      2007 The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (originally named the Clean Energy Act of 2007) is passed by the U.S. Congress. Its stated purposes are “to move the United States toward greater energy independence and security, to increase the production of clean, renewable fuels, to protect consumers, to increase the efficiency of products, buildings and vehicles, to promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the Federal Government,” as well as various other goals. Title I of the original bill is called the “Ending Subsidies for Big Oil Act of 2007.” Included in the new provisions is a requirement of government and public institutions to lower fossil fuel use by 80 percent by 2020. Also included is the repeal of much of the legislation included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

      2009 Amid a global recession, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is one of the inaugural acts signed by President Barack Obama. Otherwise known as the “stimulus package,” it mostly makes provisions for job creation, tax relief, and infrastructure investment, but it is also heavily focused on energy efficiency and science. Multibillion dollar funding is appropriated for energy-efficient building practices, green jobs, electric and hybrid vehicles, and modernizing the nation's electric grid into a smart grid that uses digital technology to save energy. In the official seal of the act, an illustration of a bright green, fertile plant is placed opposite two grinding cogs.

    • Green Politics Glossary


      Accident Site: The location of an unexpected occurrence, failure, or loss, either at a plant or along a transportation route, resulting in a release of hazardous materials.

      Adulterants: Chemical impurities or substances that by law do not belong in a food, or pesticide.

      Advisory: A nonregulatory document that communicates risk information to those who may have to make risk management decisions.

      Affected Public: 1. The people who live and/or work near a hazardous waste site. 2. The human population adversely affected following exposure to a toxic pollutant in food, water, air, or soil.

      Agent: Any physical, chemical, or biological entity that can be harmful to an organism(synonymous with stressors).

      Air Quality Standards: The level of pollutants prescribed by regulations that are not be exceeded during a given time in a defined area.

      Alternative Fuels: Substitutes for traditional liquid, oil-derived motor vehicle fuels like gasoline and diesel. Includes mixtures of alcohol-based fuels with gasoline, methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas, and others.

      Appliance Standards: Standards established by the U.S. Congress for energy-consuming appliances in the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987.

      Asbestos: A mineral fiber that can pollute air or water and cause cancer or asbestosis when inhaled. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned or severely restricted its use in manufacturing and construction.


      Basalt: Consistent year-round energy use of a facility; also refers to the minimum amount of electricity supplied continually to a facility.

      Best Available Control Measures (BACM): A term used to refer to the most effective measures (according to EPA guidance) for controlling small or dispersed particulates and other emissions from sources such as roadway dust and soot and ash from woodstoves and open burning of rush, timber, grasslands, or trash.

      Biodegradable: Capable of decomposing under natural conditions.

      Bottle Bill: Proposed or enacted legislation that requires a returnable deposit on beer or soda containers and provides for retail store or other redemption. Such legislation is designed to discourage use of throwaway containers.

      Brownfields: Abandoned, idled, or underused industrial and commercial facilities/sites in which expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. These sites can be in urban, suburban, or rural areas. The EPA'sBrownfields initiative helps communities mitigate potential health risks and restore the economic viability of such areas or properties.


      Carcinogen: Any substance that can cause or aggravate cancer.

      Chlorinated Hydrocarbons: 1. Chemicals containing only chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen. These include a class of persistent, broad-spectrum insecticides that linger in the environment and accumulate in the food chain. Among them are dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), aldrin, dieldrin, heptachlor, chlordane, lindane, endrin, mirex, hexachloride, and toxaphene. Other examples include trichloroethylene, used as an industrial solvent. 2. Any chlorinated organic compounds including chlorinated solvents such as dichloromethane, trichloromethylene, and chloroform.

      Clean Fuels: Blends or substitutes for gasoline fuels, including compressed natural gas, methanol, ethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas.

      Comparative Risk Assessment: Process that generally uses the judgment of experts to predict effects and set priorities among a wide range of environmental problems.

      Conservation: Preserving and renewing, when possible, human and natural resources. The use, protection, and improvement of natural resources according to principles that will ensure their highest economic or social benefits.

      Contaminant: Any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter that has an adverse effect on air, water, or soil.

      Cost-Benefit Analysis: An economic method for assessing the costs and benefits of pursuing public policy.

      Cost Recovery: A legal process by which potentially responsible parties who contributed to contamination at a Superfund site can be required to reimburse the Trust Fund for money spent during any cleanup actions by the federal government.


      DDT: The first chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide; chemical name dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. It has a half-life of 15 years and can collect in the fatty tissues of certain animals. EPA banned registration and interstate sale of DDT for virtually all but emergency uses in the United States in 1972 because of its persistence in the environment and accumulation in the food chain.

      Decontamination: Removal of harmful substances such as noxious chemicals, harmful bacteria or other organisms, or radioactive material from exposed individuals, rooms and furnishings in buildings, or the exterior environment.

      Disposal Facilities: Repositories for solid waste, including landfills and combustors intended for permanent containment or destruction of waste materials.

      Dump: A site used to dispose of solid waste without environmental controls.


      Ecological Entity: In ecological risk assessment, a general term referring to a species, a group of species, an ecosystem function or characteristic, or a specific habitat or biome.

      Ecological Risk Assessment: The application of a formal framework, analytical process, or model to estimate the effects of human actions(s) on a natural resource and to interpret the significance of those effects in light of the uncertainties identified in each component of the assessment process.

      Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory: An annual report by facilities having one or more extremely hazardous substances or hazardous chemicals above certain weight limits.

      Emission Cap: A limit designed to prevent projected growth in emissions from existing and future stationary sources from eroding any mandated reductions.

      Endangered Species: Animals, birds, fish, plants, or other living organisms threatened with extinction by anthropogenic (man-caused) or other natural changes in their environment. Requirements for declaring a species endangered are contained in the Endangered Species Act.

      Environmental Equity/Justice: Equal protection from environmental hazards for individuals, groups, or communities regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status. This applies to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies and implies that no population of people should be forced to shoulder a disproportionate share of the negative environmental effects of pollution or environmental hazards because of a lack of political or economic strength levels.

      Ethanol: An alternative automotive fuel derived from grain and corn; usually blended with gasoline to form gasohol.


      Fossil Fuel: Fuel derived from ancient organic remains; for example, peat, coal, crude oil, and natural gas.

      Free Trade Associations/Zones: Groups of nations or regions in which tariff and quota barriers are reduced or eliminated to spur increased economic activity.

      Fugitive Emissions: Emissions not caught by a capture system.


      Global Warming: An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Scientists generally agree that the Earth's surface has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past 140 years.

      Greenhouse Effect: The warming of the Earth's atmosphere attributed to a buildup of carbon dioxide or other gases; some scientists think that this build-up allows the sun's rays to heat the Earth while making the infrared radiation atmosphere opaque to infrared radiation, thereby preventing a counterbalancing loss of heat.


      Hazard: A natural or human product or process that poses a potential or actual threat to people.

      Heavy Metals: Metallic elements with high atomic weights; for example, mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead. They can damage living things at low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain.

      High Seas: Portions of the ocean beyond the limits of national jurisdictions as defined by the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


      Industrial Waste: Unwanted materials from an industrial operation; may be liquid, sludge, solid, or hazardous waste.

      Institution: Norms through which groups self-organize for collective gain. Distinct from “organizations,” the term “institution” refers to habits, rules, and laws governing behavior.

      Interstate Commerce Clause: A clause of the U.S. Constitution that reserves to the federal government the right to regulate the conduct of business across state lines.

      Interstate Waters: Waters that flow across or form part of state or international boundaries; for example, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, or coastal waters.


      Lead (Pb): A heavy metal that is hazardous to the health if breathed or swallowed. Its use in gasoline, paints, and plumbing compounds has been sharply restricted or eliminated by federal laws and regulations.

      Lifetime Exposure: Total amount of exposure to a substance that a human would receive in a lifetime (usually assumed to be 70 years).

      Litter: The highly visible portion of solid waste carelessly discarded outside the regular garbage and trash collection and disposal system.


      Media: Specific environments—air, water, soil—that are the subject of regulatory concern and activities.

      Montreal Protocol: Treaty, signed in 1987, governing stratospheric ozone protection and research, and the production and use of ozone-depleting substances.

      Municipal Solid Waste: Common garbage or trash generated by industries, businesses, institutions, and homes.


      Netting: A concept in which all emissions sources in the same area that are owned or controlled by a single company are treated as one large source, thereby allowing flexibility in controlling individual sources to meet a single emissions standard.

      NIMBY: An acronym for “Not in My Backyard” that identifies the tendency for individuals and communities to oppose the siting of noxious or hazardous materials and activities in their vicinity. It implies a limited or parochial political vision of environmental justice.


      Ozone Depletion: Destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer, which shields the Earth from ultraviolet radiation harmful to life. This destruction of ozone is caused by the breakdown of certain chlorine- and/or bromine-containing compounds (chlorofluorocarbons or halons), which break down when they reach the stratosphere and then catalytically destroy ozone molecules.


      Permit: An authorization, license, or equivalent control document issued by the EPA or an approved state agency to implement the requirements of an environmental regulation; for example, a permit to operate a wastewater treatment plant or to operate a facility that may generate harmful emissions.

      Point Source: A stationary location or fixed facility from which pollutants are discharged; any single identifiable source of pollution; for example, a pipe, ditch, ship, ore pit, or factory smokestack.

      Political Ecology: a field of research concerned with the relationship of systems of social and economic power to environmental conditions, natural resources, and conservation.

      Pollution: In general, the presence of a substance in the environment that because of its chemical composition or quantity prevents the functioning of natural processes and produces undesirable environmental and health effects. Under the Clean Water Act, for example, the term has been defined as the man-made or man-induced alteration of the physical, biological, chemical, and radiological integrity of water and other media.

      Polychlorinated Biphenyls: A group of toxic, persistent chemicals used in electrical transformers and capacitors for insulating purposes and in gas pipeline systems as lubricant. The sale and new use of these chemicals, also known as PCBs, were banned by law in 1979.

      Prior Appropriation: A doctrine of water law that allocates the rights to use water on a first-come, first-served basis.

      Public Water System: A system that provides piped water for human consumption to at least 15 service connections, or regularly serves 25 individuals.


      Radiation: Transmission of energy though space or any medium. Also known as radiant energy.

      Radioactive Waste: Any waste that emits energy as rays, waves, streams, or energetic particles. Radioactive materials are often mixed with hazardous waste from nuclear reactors, research institutions, or hospitals.

      Recycle/Reuse: Minimizing waste generation by recovering and reprocessing usable products that might otherwise become waste (e.g., recycling aluminum cans, paper, bottles, etc.).

      Riparian Rights: Entitlement of a land owner to certain uses of water on or bordering the property, including the right to prevent diversion or misuse of upstream waters. In general, a matter of state law.

      Risk: A measure of the probability that damage to life, health, property, and/or the environment will occur as a result of a given hazard.

      Risk Assessment: Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the risk posed to human health and/or the environment by the actual or potential presence and/or use of specific pollutants.


      Smog: Air pollution typically associated with oxidants.

      Solid Waste: Nonliquid, nonsoluble materials ranging from municipal garbage to industrial wastes that contain complex and sometimes hazardous substances.

      Stakeholder: Any organization, governmental entity, or individual that has a stake in or may be affected by a given approach to environmental regulation, pollution prevention, energy conservation, and so on.

      Structural Adjustment: A set of policies, typically imposed by multilateral lending agencies like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund during a national financial crisis, that imposes restrictions on government trade regulations, subsidies, and labor/environmental standards.


      Tailpipe Standards: Emissions limitations applicable to mobile source engine exhausts.

      Toxicity: The degree to which a substance or mixture of substances can harm humans or animals.

      Trust Fund (CERCLA): A fund set up under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to help pay for cleanup of hazardous waste sites and for legal action to force those responsible for the sites to clean them up.


      Ultraviolet Rays: Radiation from the sun that can be useful or potentially harmful. Ultraviolet, or UV, rays from one part of the spectrum (UV-A) enhance plant life. UV rays from other parts of the spectrum (UV-B) can cause skin cancer or other tissue damage. The ozone layer in the atmosphere partly shields us from ultraviolet rays reaching the Earth's surface.


      Waste Treatment Plant: A facility containing a series of tanks, screens, filters, and other processes by which pollutants are removed from water.

      Watershed Approach: A coordinated framework for environmental management that focuses public and private efforts on the highest priority problems within hydrologically defined geographic areas, taking into consideration both ground and surface water flow.

      Wildlife Refuge: An area designated for the protection of wild animals, within which hunting and fishing are either prohibited or strictly controlled.

      Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (

      Green Politics Resource Guide


      Barrow, C. J. Environmental Management and Development. London: Routledge, 2005.

      Bryant, Bunyan, ed. Environmental Justice: Issues, Policies, and Solutions. Washington, DC: Island, 1995.

      Cerrell Associates, Inc. Political Difficulties Facing Waste-to-Energy Conversion Plant Siting. Prepared for the California Waste Management Board. Sacramento, CA: Cerrell Associates, Inc, 1984.

      Chatterjee, Pratap and Mathias Finger. The Earth Brokers: Power, Politics and World Development. London: Routledge, 1994.

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      Commission for Racial Justice, United Church of Christ. Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States: A National Report on the Racial and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Communities With Hazardous Wastes Sites. New York: Public Data Access Inc., 1987.

      Conca, Ken and Geoffrey Dabelko, eds. Environmental Peacemaking. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, 2002.

      Diehl, Paul and Nils Gleditsch Petter, eds. Environmental Conflict. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2001.

      Downie, David Leonard. “Global POPs Policy: The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants,” in David Leonard Downie and Terry Fenge, eds., Northern Lights Against POPs: Combatting Toxic Threats in the Arctic. Montreal: McGill-Queen'sUniversity Press, 2003.

      Dryzek, John. The Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

      Durett, Dan. Environmental Justice: Breaking New Ground. Washington, DC: Committee of the National Institute for the Environment, 1993.

      Gadgil, Madhav and Ramachandra Guha. Ecology and Equity. London: Routledge, 1995.

      Gerlak, A. and L. Parisi. “An Umbrella of International Policy: The Global Environment Facility at Work,” in Dennis L. Soden and Brent S. Steel, eds., Handbook of Global Environmental Policy and Administration. New York: Marcel Dekker, 1999.

      Gerrard, Michael B. Whose Backyard, Whose Risk: Fear and Fairness in Toxic and Nuclear Waste Siting. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994.

      Gillroy, J. M., ed. Environmental Risk, Environmental Values, and Political Choices: Beyond Efficiency Trade-Offs in Public Policy Analysis. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1993.

      Global Environment Facility. Producing Results for the Global Environment. New York: Global Environment Facility, 2005.

      Gould, J. M. Quality of Life in American Neighborhoods: Levels of Affluence, Toxic Waste, and Cancer Mortality in Residential Zip Code Areas. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1986.

      Griffiths, T. and L. Robin, eds. Ecology and Empire. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997.

      Harrison, D., Jr. Who Pays for Clean Air: The Cost and Benefit Distribution of Automobile Emission Standards. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1975.

      Held, David, et al. Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.

      Hellawell, John M. Biological Indicators of Freshwater Pollution and Environmental Management. London: Elsevier Applied Science Publishers, 1986.

      Hill, David, ed. The Quality of Life in America; Pollution, Poverty, Power, and Fear. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973.

      Hofrichter, Richard, ed. Toxic Struggles: The Theory and Practice of Environmental Justice. Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers, 1993.

      Horta, Korinna, et al. The Global Environment Facility: The First Ten Years? Growing Pains or Inherent Flaws? Washington, DC; Halifax, Canada: Environmental Defense and Halifax Initiative, 2002.

      Mandelker, D. R. Environment and Equity: A Regulatory Challenge. New York: McGrawHill, 1981.

      Manwaring, Max, ed. Environmental Security and Global Stability. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2002.

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      Meffe, G. K. and C. R. Carroll. Principles of Conservation Biology. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 1994.

      Merchant, Carolyn, ed. Major Problems in American Environmental History, 2nd edition. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2005.

      Neuman, Roderick. Making Political Ecology. New York: Hodder Arnold, 2003.

      Perrin, Constance. Everything in Its Place: Social Order and Land Use in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

      Sachs, Aaron. Eco-Justice: Linking Human Rights and the Environment. Worldwatch Paper127. Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute, 1995.

      Schwab, Jim. Deeper Shades of Green: The Rise of Blue-Collar and Minority Environmentalism in America. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1994.

      Snow, Donald. Inside the Environmental Movement: Meeting the Leadership Challenge. Washington, DC: Island, 1992.

      Sweet, William. Kicking the Carbon Habit. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

      Turner, B. L., II, et al., eds. The Earth as Transformed by Human Action: Global and Regional Changes in the Biosphere Over the Past 300 Years. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental Equity: Reducing Risk for All Communities, Volumes 1 and 2. Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, EPA230-R-92–008 and EPA230-R-92–008A. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1992.

      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental Justice 1994 Annual Report: Focusing on Environmental Protection for All People. Office of Administration and Resources Management(3103), EPA/200-R-95–003. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1995.

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      Waxman, Henry A. The Real Story Behind EPA's Environmental Equity Report: An Evaluation of Internal EPA Memoranda. Washington, DC: US House of Representatives, 1992.

      Wenz, Peter S. Environmental Justice. New York: State University of New York Press, 1988.

      World Commission on Environment and Development. Our Common Future. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.


      Alternatives (Alternatives Inc.)

      American Naturalist (Thomson Corporation)

      Amicus Journal (National Resources Defense Council)

      Biodiversity and Conservation (Chapman and Hall)

      Biological Conservation (Elsevier Science)

      BioScience (American Institute and Biological Sciences)

      Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review (Boston College)

      Capitalism, Nature, Socialism (Routledge)

      Conservation Biology (Blackwell Publishing)

      Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology (Taylor & Francis)

      Ecological Economics (International Ecological Economics)

      Energy and Environment (Multi-Science Publishing)

      Environment (Voyage Publications)

      Environmental Action (American Chemical Society)

      Environmental Ethics (Center for Environmental Philosophy)

      Environmental Law (Oxford University Press)

      Environmental Management (Academic Press)

      Environmental Politics (Frank Cass)

      Environmental Science and Technology (Center for Environment and Energy Research and Studies)

      Environment and Behavior (SAGE Publications)

      EPA Journal (Environmental Protection Agency)

      Global Environment Politic (MIT Press)

      Human and Ecological Risk Assessment (Taylor & Francis)

      Human Ecology (Springer Science and Business Media)

      International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology (Taylor & Francis)

      Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (Academic Press)

      Journal of Environmental Management (Academic Press)

      Journal of Environment and Development (SAGE Publications)

      Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (Wiley InterScience)

      Journal of Risk: Issues in Health and Safety (Franklin Pierce Law Center)

      Nature (Palgrave Macmillan)

      New Scientist (Reed Business Information)Planning (Oxford University Press)

      Policy Studies Journal (Blackwell Publishing)

      Population and Environment (Center for Environment and Population)

      Progressive (Progressive)

      Sierra (Sierra Club)

      Society and Natural Resources (Routledge)

      Trends in Ecology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)

      Waste Age (Prism Business Media)

      Whole Earth Review (Point Foundation)


      Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth

      Alternative Technology Association

      Building Green, LLC

      Climate Ethics

      Ecology and Society

      Global Green Grants Fund

      Green Energy Council

      Green Peace

      International Green Party Index

      National Energy Education Department (NEED)

      National Renewable Energy Laboratory

      The New York Times Blog: DotEarth

      U.S. Green Party

      The Wall Street Journal Blog: Environmental Capital

      Worldwatch Institute

      Green Politics Appendix

      Convention on Biological Diversity

      The purposes of the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty that came into force in December 1993, are to promote the conservation, sustainable use, and fair and equitable sharing of biodiversity. This website is a resource for information about biodiversity in general as well as the convention. It includes a brief history of the convention and its text in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish, a list of parties to the convention, with information about national focal points, strategies, reports, status, and profiles. It also contains information about programs and plans to promote the goals of the convention, a history of decision and meetings since the convention was first passed, and news items, press releases, and official statements relevant to the convention. Special sections present information about biodiversity relevant to particular groups including business, local authorities, parliamentarians, universities and the scientific community, children and youth, and nongovernmental organizations. The website also has information sections about the 2010 Biodiversity Target and the International Day for Biological Diversity.

      Endangered Species Program

      This website, created and maintained by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, includes news about conservation of endangered species in the United States, including the text of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as well as an overview of the act, relevant policies and regulations, and a glossary of relevant terms. Indexes by species and by state list the species included, the states where they are listed, and other information such as experimental populations and listings by year. Many publications are downloadable from this site including information about the ESA, conservation partnerships with states, communities, and landowners, consultancy programs, habitat conservation planning, and the Endangered Species Recovery Program. A section of the website is devoted to the Candidate Program, which identifies species in need of protection, including a state-by-state listing of candidate species. A “Kid's Corner” provides educator resources and information for students.

      Global Greens

      This is the website of the Global Green Network, created in 2001 as a network of representatives of national Green Parties from all over the world. The purpose of the Global Green Network is to facilitate communication and increase understanding among Green Parties and promote the Global Green Charter which commits the parties to the guiding principles of ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence, sustainability and respect for diversity. The Charter is available for download from the website in English, German, Spanish, Esperanto, French, Portuguese, and Swedish and the website also documents the history of the drafting process for this Charter and previous Global Greens statements. The website also includes information about Global Green Congresses, a calendar of events, press releases and Global Greens statements, information about elections and office holders, and a listing (with internet links if possible) of national Green Parties belonging to the network.

      Greenpeace International

      Greenpeace International is an independent global campaigning organization founded in 1971 that aims to promote peace and preserve the environment. The website contains information about the organization and its history as well as current causes which include climate change, preservation of the forest and marine environments, prohibition of genetically engineered food, reduction or elimination of toxic chemicals in manufacturing as well as greater regulation of their disposal, elimination of nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and encouragement of sustainable trade. Many Greenpeace reports and press releases are available from the website while many photographs and videos for press use may be previewed on the website and ordered by email. The website also includes links to national Greenpeace organizations, webcam links to the Greenpeace ships, and several blogs covering current events.

      International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs

      The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) is an international membership funded primarily by the Nordic Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the European Union that supports the human rights of indigenous peoples including self-determination, cultural integrity, right to territory and control of land and resources, and the right to development. A primary purpose of the IWGIA is the documentation and dissemination of information about indigenous peoples, and many of their publications are available for download from this website (primarily in English and Spanish, with a few in other languages). The website also includes a calendar of international meetings and a news archive. One section of the website is devoted to basic information about indigenous issues with links to further information: Topics covered include identification of indigenous peoples, climate change, sustainable development, land rights, self-determination, racism, international and national policies, political participation, and intellectual property rights. Country profiles are also available for download for countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Arctic.

      Kyoto Protocol

      This website, part of the United Nations Frame Work Convention on Climate Change website, includes basic information about the history and purpose of the Kyoto Protocol as well as the downloadable text of the protocol in six languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Spanish, French, and Russian as well as a reference manual about emissions accounting. A database provides country-by-country information about ratification and implementation status. A hypertext document includes links to further information about important terms and concepts related to the Kyoto Protocol, including emissions trading, clean development mechanism, joint implementation, registry systems, reporting, compliance, and adaptation. The site also includes links to other aspects of the Climate Change Convention, including the conference program, documents, speeches, calls for action, data, links to scientific information, press briefings, and links to information about the December 2009 conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

      Union of Concerned Scientists: Citizens and Scientists for Environmental Solutions

      The Union of Concerned Scientists is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization whose purpose is to promote responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choice through a combination of scientific research and citizen action. The website is organized into sections on scientific integrity, global warming, clean vehicles, clean energy, nuclear power, nuclear weapons and global security, food and agriculture, and invasive species. A separate section provides information about issues the union is currently trying to influence (“action alerts”), with suggestions on how individuals can support the union's position including instructions on writing effective letters to the editor contacting legislators, and so on. There is also a news section about different issues of concern to the union, an index to actions in different parts of the United States, and a section of fact sheets, position papers, and background information intended for legislators and other policymakers. Many union reports and newsletters are downloadable from this website as well.

      SarahBoslaugh Washington University in St. Louis
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