Focus on public policy process has become increasingly important with the emergence of modern society, technological innovation and burgeoning international transactions. Gerston (2010) says that public policy making is a process because of their comprehensive impact, substantive issues are usually quite difficult to resolve and may linger on the public agenda for a long period of time. The public agenda changes along with shifting public priorities and values.
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The issue selected for placement on the national public policy agenda is the environmental protection policy. Andrews (2006) says that environmental policy has remained on the United States national public agenda for a long period of time. Firstly, it is because environmental protection policy continues to be of high visibility as new environmental issues emerge and old ones recur. The environmental policy has been constantly challenged by opponents using windows of opportunity to reframe it as a negative issue citing costs to polluters, regulatory burdens and property rights (Andrews, 2006).
Secondly, environmental protection policy remains a widespread and strongly held public value, both in itself and in conjunction with other values such as distrust of excessive business and government power (Andrews, 2006). Environmental protection remains active and important issue on both state and international policy agendas. Andrews (2006) indicated that environmental issues continue to be visible and influential concerns for policymakers and public.
Environmental concerns have become an enduring, resilient, and important domain of American national public policy. Andrews (2006) noted that critical progress has been made in reducing some of them, but others remain unsolved and some continue to worsen. These continuing challenges will not be solved by undermining or rolling back existing policies, or simply by continuing them as is, or by rhetorical posturing in service of opposing base constituencies (Andrews, 2006).
Kraft & Kamieniecki (2007) noted that business has been ineffective in repealing the major environmental laws even if it has been more successful in modifying their implementation in the executive agencies. The major challenge that has affected the placement of environmental policy is because business influence is effectively balanced by the efforts of environmentalists and other citizen groups and the desire of policymakers to promote the public interest (Kraft & Kamieniecki, 2007).
Businesses as well as other interest groups have chosen various stages of the environmental policy process to fight their battles. Kraft & Kamieniecki (2007) indicate that it is possible that business decides to weaken or defeat environmental regulations at every access point when the issue is not salient to the public and the media, and therefore they might expect little attention to their efforts and little opposition. Rhodes (2005) also noted that environmental issues have historically held a lower priority within the minority community’s political and economic agendas than such immediately pressing socioeconomic issues as education, drugs, crime and unemployment. According to Kraft & Kamieniecki (2007) environmental groups rarely have the level of access and resources necessary to mount an effective opposition to such business efforts in the agencies.
Managing these challenges will require recommitment to shared goals and to workable means of achieving them. Andrews (2006) noted that an environmentally sustainable, healthy, and fair economy, good faith implementation could enforce existing environmental protection and conservation policies. Smith & Orsini (2007) pointed that environmental protection policy has been central to the development of agenda setting and issue definition approaches.
In conclusion the significance of environmental protection issues is partially related to their lack of obtrusiveness or prominence. This implies that environmental policy is not different from education, criminal justice and health policy. Environmental laws costs a fraction of resources needed to improve air and water quality, manage the disposal of hazardous and toxic wastes and meet federal regulatory standards.
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