Environmental policy is the outcome of the activities of various political actors known as the policy process. These actors include citizens, interest groups, and elected officials, among others, that differ in their interests, beliefs, and access to resources. Policy process activities occur over both short and long periods of time, creating both incremental and nonincremental outcomes. In addition, they may span geographical and political territories. These factors make for a complex policy process that has thus been viewed and described through models that are based on such factors as sequence, beliefs, time, crisis, and geography, among others.

One way of conceptualizing the policy process is through the life cycle of public policy. The stages in the policy life cycle include issue identification, agenda setting, policy formulation, ...

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