Environmental Politics & Policy

Name: Guy Bellino
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Institution: Salem State University
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Paper Title: Biotechnology and Competing Sociotechnical Imaginaries: Dystopian Prophecy versus Positive Futurists and how Narrative Informs Policy
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Americans tell stories of our shared techno-scientific trajectory and how it will unfurl to impact, inform, and intertwine with our political and social futures. In a general sense, science and technology studies scholars (STS) refer to these shared narratives as sociotechnical imaginaries. More precisely, sociotechnical imaginaries are collectively imagined forms of social life and social order reflected in the design and fulfillment of scientific and/or technical projects which are propagated by nation-states, corporations, social movements, and professional societies. These imaginaries have a highly normative aspects in that they express how life ought to, or ought not to, be lived. In this way, prognostication is deeply embedded in public discourse regarding the trajectory of imaginaries; using the simplest dichotomy, those who prophesize doom or negative consequences to scientific/technical advancement are set against those who see a positive realm of possibility and human growth. Sociotechnical Imaginaries can take the form of dystopian prophecies often manifest in the form of literature or other forms of entertainment but also find a voice with certain interest groups and policy advocates who push for concrete policy action. Likewise, futurists, or those who have a positive outlook for science and technology’s impact on humanity, have their stories and advocates pushing language of science and technology as a fundamental solution and essential path to future human growth. One area in which these countervailing imaginaries express wildly different and competing visions is in the current debate over the use of genetically modified organisms. In particular, there have been large scale and expensive -both politically and economically speaking- policy battles over the labelling and often outright outlawing of genetically modified organisms as food sources. By examining language and imagery used by organized interests in the debate around genetically modified organisms, we can perhaps take steps towards understanding how and why sociotechnical imaginaries influence concrete political action in the United States. Traditionally, this kind of analysis would fit snugly into problem definition scholarship. However, this work will have the mutual aim of adding to literature that is unique to STS. Indeed, the underlying assumption is that this work will help us to better understand the very notion of sociotechnical imaginaries.


Name: Christopher Bosso
Section: Environmental Politics & Policy
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Institution: Northeastern University
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Paper Title: Regulating a Grey Area: Establishing a Safe Drinking Water Standard for Perchlorate in Massachusetts
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This paper describes how the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP) developed the scientific expertise and political clout to become the first government entity in the United States to establish a drinking water standard for perchlorate, a potential carcinogen. MA DEP set the Massachusetts standard at a level 20 times more stringent than that recommended by the National Research Council and at a time when the US Environmental Protection Agency’s position was that no perchlorate standard was necessary. The case details the steps DEP took to establish independent technical expertise and the support of local governments in communities with high perchlorate levels. In doing so, MA DEP took a proactive approach to identifying so-called “emerging contaminants” – unregulated contaminants that threaten to pose future harms or, at the least, require greater scrutiny. As such, this case offers useful insights into how regulators address novel challenges freighted with scientific, legal, and political uncertainty.


Name: Michael Brogan
Section: Environmental Politics & Policy
Professional Email: mbrogan@rider.edu
Professional Status: Associate Professor
Institution: Rider University
Scheduling Preference: No Preference
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Paper Title: Influence and Information: Estimating Effective Mediated and Personal Communications between State Legislators and Environmental Organizations in NJ and PA
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Co-author info: Thomas Reddington reddingtont@rider.eduKenny Dillon dillonk@rider.eduKate Ann Brace bracek@rider.edu
Co-presenter info: Thomas Reddington reddingtont@rider.eduKenny Dillon dillonk@rider.eduKate Ann Brace bracek@rider.edu
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This paper provides an in-depth look at how state legislators in PA and NJ interact with environmental organizations. The work addresses two primary research questions to evaluate relations between state legislators and environmental organizations: What are effective means of communications for eliciting action among legislators? How do legislators communicate with constituents? The research employed an internet and phone survey for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network of 370 state legislators in the upper and lower chambers in NJ and PA. Further, the work also conducted follow-up interviews of state legislators and staff. Initial findings suggest that state legislators feel personal contact is the most effective means of communication when communicating with environmental groups. The work also indicates that state legislators prefer to have messages that contain both problems and solutions for them to act. In developing effective communication with state legislators, respondents indicated messages that were “clear, concise, educated, timely and frequent.” Respondents also suggest that effective messages should be “civil” and not “fear-based.” State legislators also tend to use email, phone and traditional letters in conducting business. Use of Facebook is used by almost half of respondents and about 1 in 5 use Twitter. Again these results confirm what was found in prior research that state legislators prefer constituents use personal communication in contacting them while at the same time using broader communication tools to conduct legislative business and communicate to constituents. In terms of eliciting a response from state legislators for environmental organizations, the survey results suggest between 1 and 20 contacts (approximately 61% of respondents indicated action within the first two categories) with a legislative office. Further, the results also suggest that up to 50 contacts (81% of responses) with a state legislative office would most likely be the maximum in order to prompt action.


Name: Wenqi Dang
Section: Environmental Politics & Policy
Professional Email: w.dang@utwente.nl
Professional Status: Graduate Student
Institution: University of Twente
Scheduling Preference: Friday Afternoon
Proposal Type: Paper
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Paper Title: How People’s Attitudes Predict Environmental Action Comparing China, the Netherlands, United States Germany and Sweden
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Environmental conflicts never stop since the process of industry and technology. Human are hardly prevented to take advantages from environmental natures. Some researchers regard that after the Second World War, people increasly satisfied their material life that further leaded value changing. Subsequently, people started to realize and aware surrounding environmental issues. In most of western countries, intensive protests were held by students in 1960s following by though-provoking green movements, such as anti-nuclear movements, green party engagements, etc. Currently, most Western countries witness better quality of environment especially air condition. China’s environmental protests erupted since early 2000. However, the environment (also especially air condition) does not show a trend of turning good. Also China and United States lead petrol and carbon consuming in the world, which arouse researchers’ interest about how people’s attitudes related to environmental actions. The paper will interpret how environmental attitudes predict environmental action by comparing four western countries and China, in addition to contrasting the differences and similarities regarding to which factors predicting environmental actions. The binary logistic regression will be applied for answering those two questions. The data will be from world value survey. Finally, author hope some of results can contribute to a deep understanding about situations of those observed countries.


Name: Rob DeLeo
Section: Environmental Politics & Policy
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Institution: Bentley University
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Paper Title: Analogies and Agenda Setting: Does Context Matter?
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The strategic use of political language is central to the agenda setting process, often influencing whether an issue breaches the institutional agenda, the level of political mobilization, as well as the types of solutions considered by policymakers. While policy scholars have long cited “analogies,” “metaphors,” and other forms of implied comparison as important elements in a larger political language lexicon, surprisingly few studies have empirically tested when and under what conditions these linguistic tools are leveraged by individuals seeking to influence policy change. This paper fills this void by analyzing the content of United States Congressional Hearing testimony on the topic “pandemic influenza” between the years 1990 and 2015. Because pandemic influenza tends to reveal itself slowly and across time through the gradual accumulation of indicators—measures or metrics of a policy problem—implying the possibility of an emerging hazard, political language can be analyzed in various temporal contexts—before, during, and after disaster occur. Using Ordinary Least Squares Regression Analysis, this paper shows that context matters a great deal, especially in domains concerned with the governance of emergent hazards, and policymakers are far more likely to use analogy in pre-pandemic periods (before a manifest public health crisis has fully blossomed), as opposed to during or even after disaster has come to fruition.


Name: Kevin Donnolley
Section: Environmental Politics & Policy
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Institution: Bridgewater State University
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Name: Josh Grant-Young
Section: Environmental Politics & Policy
Professional Email: joshgrantyoung@gmail.com
Professional Status: Graduate Student
Institution: University of Guelph
Scheduling Preference: No Preference
Proposal Type: Paper
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Paper Title: 'Fungal Politics' in the Anthropocene
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What can fungi teach us about politics and ecology? Fungi, largely due to the work of Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, have seen a resurgence in interest for academia. I contend that we have much to contemplate in the fuzzy, wet and inhuman forms of fungi which might aid us in developing new strategies of activism in the Anthropocene (or recycling past ones for present use). I invite others to engage the amorphous 'creep' of fungal life with me and explore the potential for a 'fungal politics'.


Name: Brandon Metroka
Section: Environmental Politics & Policy
Professional Email: btmetrok@syr.edu
Professional Status: Graduate Student
Institution: Syracuse University
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Paper Title: Of Bags, Bikes, and Lawsuits: Local Policy Innovation and Adoption in the Age of California’s Environmental Quality Act
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Co-author info: Bridget K. Fahey, Syracuse University (bkfahey@syr.edu)Hengel Reina, Syracuse University (hreina@syr.edu)
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Gridlock in the United States has pushed most environmental policymaking out of Congress and into alternative policymaking venues like the courts, bureaucratic rule-making, and state governments (Klyza and Sousa, 2007). This shift, along with a mentality in the environmental movement to “think globally, act locally” spurred local governments to take on (national and even global) environmental issues within their own jurisdictions. Scholars have begun to investigate the impact of local policymaking as a potential alternative to international, federal, or state-level action (examples of this work include: Muir, Phillips, and Healey, 2000; Bechtel and Urpelainen, 2015; Owens and Zimmerman, 2013). This project builds on this burgeoning trend in the policy literature examining the dynamics of local policymaking by asking: How do local environmental policies targeting individual behavior develop and diffuse? And, how do the courts shape this process?Plastic bag bans and bike lanes on public streets are two policy areas where local governments encourage environmentally-friendly behaviors. Plastic bag bans (or the less extreme version of plastic bag fees) are meant to reduce the quantity of plastic in landfills and water bodies and bike lanes are meant to encourage pollution-free and fossil-fuel-free modes of transit. Despite the good intentions of these policies, they are often met with resistance and fierce opposition, even in otherwise “green” communities. Often, disputes about these policies are settled in the courts using the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as support for pro- and anti-bike or bag advocates. This project represents a first look into the dynamics of local environmental policy innovations that have been contested through the California court system. We specifically examine how CEQA is used as a justification for both sides of this debate. Works Cited:Bechtel, Michael M., and Johannes Urpelainen. 2015. “All Policies Are Global: International Environmental Policy Making with Strategic Subnational Governments.” British Journal of Political Science 45(3): 559–82.Klyza, Christopher McGrory, and David J. Sousa. 2007. American Environmental Policy, 1990-2006: Beyond Gridlock. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Muir, Kate, Martin Phillips, and Mick Healey. 2000. Shades of green in local authority policy-making: a regional case study. Area, 32(4)” 369-37-82.Owens, Katharine, and Carl Zimmerman. 2013. “Local Governance Versus Centralization: Connecticut Wetlands Governance as a Model.” Review of Policy Research 30(6): 629–56.


Name: Mina Michel Samaan
Section: Environmental Politics & Policy
Professional Email: minamsamaan@gmail.com
Professional Status: Graduate Student
Institution: Technical University of Braunschweig
Scheduling Preference: No Preference
Proposal Type: Paper
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Paper Title: The Hydropolitical Dilemma of Transboundary Water Rights: The Case of the Eastern Nile Basin
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According to the classic categorization of economic goods, surface freshwater is considered a common good, where rivalry factor exists and exclusion does not. Nationally, governments represent the authority of regulating the use of water among various sectors. Internationally, there is no supreme body overarching riparian states to define the rights of each. While complex sub-national disputes over water resources continue to take place, conflicts over transboundary waters are considered more sophisticated. Along decades, accumulated scientific contributions of conflict management and resolution in hydropolitics have been centered on the dilemma of transboundary water rights. Perception of rights varies controversially based on the geographic position of riparians. A downstream state often advocates its rights upon the principles of "historical and natural rights", "prior notification" and "avoiding significance harms", while an upstream state relies on "absolute sovereignty" and "equitable utilization". Potential conflicts of such radical controversies are then exacerbated due to the absence of obligatory international water law and institutions of ultimate jurisdiction. This paper discusses various aspects of such an important topic, giving a special concern to the Eastern Nile Basin. Each of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, the three main riparians, views its rights over the Nile waters from a different angle. Long historical mistrust, growing populations, and future uncertainties of climate change, all are severe challenges that extraordinarily complicate the whole issue. The main conclusion of the study shows that the longstanding heterogeneities in national needs and capabilities of riparians have led to the current stalemate about constructing mega dams upper the river in the lack of multilateral cooperation.