. "19 Influence of American NGOs on Environmental Decisions and Policies: Evolution Over Three Decades." The Role of Environmental NGOs--Russian Challenges, American Lessons: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2001.
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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop
protection (1970 to 1990), efficiency-based regulatory reform and flexibility (1980 to 1990s), and steps toward sustainable communities (1990 and onward).
Within each of these epochs we highlight the way environmental problems are defined and policy objectives set, dominant implementation philosophies, points of intervention, policy approaches and tools that are used, information and data management needs, and the predominant political and institutional context. Part of our purpose is also to understand the role of public opinion and environmental NGOs in helping to identify and define environmental problems, to bring scientific information to bear on the policy process, to press for certain kinds of policy action, and to affect the political context—primarily through mobilization of public opinion.
I use this framework here to highlight some of the most important features of U.S. environmental policy and politics over the past three decade. I will also suggest how this history, particularly recent developments, might apply to Russia. See Table 1, which is taken from Toward Sustainable Communities.
Put simply, the role of NGOs in the United States has changed significantly over the past thirty years as environmental advocacy groups moved from a posture of confrontation and adversarial relations with government and industry to one characterized by professionalism and cooperation. This shift, which occurred gradually between the early 1970s and early 1990s, bodes well for the future of environmental policy in the United States.
The new philosophies and strategies of NGOs give greater emphasis to comprehensive analysis of environmental problems, the use of scientific studies and economic analyses, and participation of key stakeholders. Taken together, the approaches appear to be far more effective in identifying and resolving the major issues. In terms of drawing lessons for Russia, it is important to ask why environmental NGOs have been able to influence environmental decisions and policies as much as they have. It is also of interest to ask what factors account for the difference between the most successful and less successful cases of collaboration and cooperation in the late 1990s and early twenty-first century. The answers may suggest what other nations might do to achieve comparable results.
ACTIONS DURING THE 1970s
Environmental issues rose to prominence on governmental agendas only in the late 1960s, but that shift in public and policymaker attention to the problems, along with rapid improvement in scientific knowledge, led to dramatic changes in U.S. environmental policies. Most of the key policies were approved within a ten-year period: 1970 to 1980. These include the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990, the Clean Water Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, and significant actions in 1976 to control