Environmental Politics & Policies 

         Political Science 4001
       Spring 2016

        9:30-10:45 Tuesday & Thursday

        317 Butler-Carlton Hall

        Link to Printable Syllabus


     Instructor: Dave Robertson                 

   Office G-1 H-SS; Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-12:00, 1:30-2:30; I will arrange other times to fit your schedule.

    Phone (573) 341-4574; e-mail DaveRobertson@umsl.edu; twitter @robertsonMO





Contents: What Is The Course About?How To Get A Good GradeExamsBooksParticipationThe Memo / Detailed Course Schedule
Environmental Politics WebsitesHow to Be Fair Minded About Politics & PolicyEnvironmental Politics Bibliography

Eight Tips for Studying Smarter and Learning Better!

1.  What is the Course About?   Our deepest hopes, doubts and conflicts shape our choices about the land, air and water that are essential to our lives. We value our environment for the beauty that ennobles us and the resources that enrich us. Environmental policy reveals what is at stake in society’s decisions about the environment and on the priorities we set. It also tells us about the way that government solves problems, and the strengths and weaknesses of government as an instrument for realizing our ideals.


In Environmental Politics and Policies, we explore the governance of land, water, air, energy, solid and hazardous waste, endangered species, climate change, and international environmental cooperation. We will build problem solving skills by applying them to these difficult problems.  If you develop skills in environmental problem-solving in the United States, you will be better prepared to help solve other kinds of social problems. This course does not require that you have a background in biological or other sciences.

By the end of the course, then, you should have (1) mastered a body of basic information about environment issues and policies, and (2) a better command of the problem-solving skills used to make public policy, including standpoints, priorities, the issue-attention cycle, purity versus pragmatism, the separation of powers, federalism, and elections.  To measure your achievement, the course includes extensive class participation, three examinations, two quizzes, and a policy memo. 

2. Our Contract.  By enrolling in this course, you and I have agreed to a contract with each other.  I'll work hard to be prepared, enthusiastic, fair and respectful of every student and their standpoint.  I'll be accessible and try my best to return graded materials after no more than a week.  By enrolling in the class, you've agreed to (1) attend every class, (2) to participate by asking questions and joining in class discussions, and (3) reading the assigned material and completing assignments on time.  You are paying for and receiving a University of Missouri class.  Of all the consumer purchases you make, don't let your University of Missouri education be the one purchase where you expect less for your money.

3. Books. The following books, which are required reading in this course, are available at the Missouri S&T bookstore.

Easton, Thomas A. ed. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues, 16th edition, expanded. Paperback. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2015. ISBN 13: 978-1259343254 

Ibsen, Henrick, An Enemy of the People (any edition - available used and in many public libraries)

Rosenbaum, Walter A., Environmental Politics and Policy, 9th ed. Paperback. Los Angeles: Sage/CQ Press, 2013. ISBN 13: 978-1452239965

There are a number of additional readings; many of them are very short newspaper articles. All are available on My Blackboard, Assignments.

The class schedule below lists all the reading, quiz, exam, and assignment dates.  Each date has a title.  Click on the title to get an outline of the day's class. Each outline will be available the evening prior to the class.

4How to Get a Good Grade. The grade for the course will be determined in the following way:

Participation: 10% of the final grade

Quizzes:   5% of the final grade
Exam 1: 15% of the final grade
Exam 2: 15% of the final grade
Exam 3: 20% of the final grade
Memo Topic: 5% of the final grade
Memo Synopsis/Outline/Bibliography: 5% of the final grade

Memo: 25% of the final grade

NOTE: You are not are NOT competing with other students for a grade. There is no curve in this course. Each student can get an A, or can get a D. It's up to you.

5. Participation. You must participate in this course actively in order for it to work well. You must prepare for and attend class, and you must contribute thoughtfully to discussion. To ensure fairness in allocating this portion of the grade, sign-up sheets will be circulated during some of the classes. I strongly encourage you to ask questions about environmental policy and public policy. I strongly encourage you to ask questions about the day's readings and lecture.

Students who succeed in this course take good notes during the class.  The outline for each class session is available for download and printing by the evening before our class. Just scroll down this syllabus to "Course Schedule," scroll down to the date of the class, and click the title of the class. For example, for the class on January 21, scroll down to January 21 (Thursday) Priorities for the Environment: Short-Term Economic Growth and Prosperity  and click the link.

Your reading assignments are listed on the attached class schedule. You are expected to read the material before coming to class, and you are expected to be prepared to discuss the reading material in class. You may be asked to discuss a question regarding the reading during the class for which the reading is assigned. You are expected and must plan to participate in class for the trial of Dr. Stockmann (February 9) and the Mediterranean exercise (April 26 & 28).

6. Exams. There will be three exams February 23 in class, April 5 in class, and May 12 in our classroom at 7:30 am). Each of the exams will consist of three parts: 20 true / false questions worth 2 points each, 2 identification questions worth 10 points each, and an essay worth 40 points.  The final exam will include an additional essay question that summarizes the course. 

7. Environmental Policy Memo. You will write a 14-16 page fair-minded (see below) environmental policy memo for the class. Samples of past memos are available on Blackboard at Assignments. The paper requires you to provide information to U.S., Missouri (or other, by arrangement) legislative committee (addressing members of both parties) about an specific environmental policy issue of your choice. The memo is due no later than Tuesday, May 3. You must turn in two assignments in advance.  First, you have to submit a 1-2 paragraph written proposed topic question and significance of the memo topic on Tuesday, February 2. This proposal must include must include a statement of the policy issue or question, and a statement of why the question matters.   Second, you have to submit a one-paragraph synopsis of the memo, an outline of the memo and a bibliography at least 6 sources (no Wikipedia or online encyclopedia) by Tuesday, March 15 (see below). The proposal and the outline each are worth 5% of the paper grade.


This assignment aims to encourage you to use the course concepts to analyze the environmental problem and policy response of your choice. The purpose is to apply your knowledge of environmental politics & policy to a topic that interests you.  To do that, you should provide information that a policy maker should know about the policy choices involved (you can make up a name, or use a real office, like director of the EPA or Secretary of State, or name the person you are addressing this to – whatever helps you focus on writing the memo). I urge you to start researching your topic with CQ Researcher or National Journal (available online). These research reports address questions similar to yours, and provide a good example of how to go about briefing a policy-maker.


There are six kinds of things a policy-maker should know about. I strongly recommend that you use these headings to outline your memo:


1.  Why should this issue be on the government agenda?  Explain to the policy-maker how many people the issue affects, and how it affects them.  The policy-maker needs to know as clearly why she or he should care about this issue.  What’s the problem or the danger if something isn’t done?

2.   What are the key things to know about past government efforts to deal with this issue?  The policy-maker needs to know what has been done about this issue in the past. This asks about policy development: the public institutions and laws that affect the issue now. How have we dealt with this issue in the past?  Has past government policy encouraged behaviors we should change, and if so, how did that evolve?

3.  What are the key alternative choices for addressing this issue, and what are their consequences? The policy-maker needs to know what different choices government can make.  How can government deal with this? What tools are available – command and control? Taxes and subsidies? Cap & Trade? What else.  Remember, doing nothing is an alternative – and a choice.

4.  Who are the key participants in this issue and how do their standpoints differ?  The policy-maker needs to know the standpoints of influential groups about this issue and especially how they feel about the alternative choices.  Are there difference in public opinion?  Do people in different regions have different standpoints on the issue?  What businesses have strong standpoints: oil? coal? The electrical utilities? The auto industry?  How about the environmental groups? Trade unions?  How about state and local officials and members of the US Congress from different states (Midwestern states are different from states on the West Coast). How powerful are these interests?  How will they react to different alternatives?

5.  Describe the political costs and benefits of different alternatives.  The policy-maker needs to know exactly how the answers to 3 & 4 are connected by reasoning through the consequences of a solution.  For example, higher taxes could increase opposition from those who are taxes, and make it harder for the solution to succeed (and it might cost the policymaker her job).  If one group gets benefits, it will be more likely to help the solution succeed (and might help the policymaker, too).  

6.  What is the best alternative course of action in the future? Based on your answer to questions 3, 4, and 5, explain to the policy maker why one choice is better than others.  Explain not only in environmental and economic terms, but in political terms as well. 

The memo is 14-16 pages.  Grading criteria include: (1) the degree to which you put effort into the paper; (2) the degree to which you thoroughly answer all the questions above; (3) use specific facts and figures in your analysis; (4) how fair-minded your argument is; (5) the quality of the writing and organization of the paper; (6) the quality and diversity of the sources; (7) the persuasiveness of the your argument for the proposed improvement in the situation. An "A" paper will be clear, concise, and specific. It will cite at least 9 sources (of which 1 should be from class readings, 2 from outside research articles, and 2 from outside books).

In the Synopsis/Outline/Bibliography due March 15, I want to know that you have been working on the memo.  The synopsis briefly summarizes (1 paragraph) the memo so far. The outline should indicate that you’ve thought about, and read some information about, answering the 6 questions related to the central question in your memo. You can submit an outline based on these six questions, providing a preliminary answer to most of them under each heading (you can organize this in a different way if you prefer). I’d expect this outline to fill about a half a page or more, single spaced.  Also, show that you have read enough to be able to list at least 6 sources (not Wikipedia); they can be books, articles, or websites that provide specific evidence you are likely to use in writing your memo. Give a full citation.

LATE MEMOs lose 1 point for every day that ends in the letter "y".

8. QuizzesThere will be two short quizzes in the class: February 9 and April 26. These quizzes will cover your preparation for the trial of Dr. Stockman and for the Mediterranean exercise. 

9. Current Events. Pay closer attention to environmental policy developments this semester. You can do this by reading the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal are among the newspapers available daily. Grist, the Environmental New Network, Politico's Energy and Environment website, the Guardian and the BBC have very good coverage of environmental issues.  See also the Environmental Politics Links on the course website. The Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report and the National Journal are weekly publications available in the reference area, and they are outstanding sources for national policy developments.

10. Plagiarism.  Plagiarism means taking the written ideas of someone else and presenting them in your writing as if they were your ideas, without giving the author credit.  Plagiarism (a word which comes from the Latin word for kidnapping) is deceitful and dishonest.  Violations that have occurred frequently in the past include not using quotation marks for direct quotes and not giving citations when using someone else's ideas; using long strings of quotations, even when properly attributed, does not constitute a paper of your own.


Plagiarism in written work for this class is unacceptable. The Missouri S&T's Academic Intergity webpage classifies plagiarism as a form of academic dishonesty.  Depending on the severity of the plagiarism, punishment can include receiving no credit for the assignment, failing the course and referral for university disciplinary action.

10. Other Stuff. When I return your exam, please check to make sure that I have computed your grade correctly. Please ask questions! Please be in your seat by the time class begins. Please do not hold private conversations during class. If you do not understand lecture, if you have further questions about lecture, please don't hesitate to interrupt and ask your question.


* indicates article is in .pdf form in Blackboard, Assignments

January 19 (Tuesday) Introduction: Standpoints


January 21 (Thursday) Priorities for the Environment: Short-Term Economic Growth and Prosperity

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 1-9
                Taking Sides, Introduction, pages 1-9

                * Nash, Roderick, Wilderness and the American Mind, 23-29"A Wilderness Condition" (.pdf in Blackboard, Assignments)

January 26 (Tuesday) Other Priorities for the Environment: Conservation, Reverence, Safety, Justice 

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 9-29


January 28 (Thursday) Other Priorities for the Environment

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 147-158

               Taking Sides, pages 13-28, "Do We Need the Precautionary Principle?"


February 2 (Tuesday) How Much is the Environment Worth? 

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 165-193

                Taking Sides, pages 44-57, "Should We Be Pricing Ecosystem Services?"


MEMO TOPIC DUE (1-2 paragraphs describing a national environmental policy problem and why it is a national issue)


February 4 (Thursday) How Serious are the Risks? 

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 129-147

               Taking Sides, pages 252-263, "Moratorium on the Use and Release of 'Synthetic Biology' Organisms?"

February 9 (Tuesday) The Trial of Dr. Stockmann

    READ: Ibsen, An Enemy of the People




February 11 (Thursday) Two US Policy Institutions: The Separation of Powers & Federalism

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 33-62

                Taking Sides, pages 60-69, ""Does Designating 'Wild Lands' Harm Rural Economies?"

                * "McConnell Urges States to Defy U.S. Plan"


February 16 (Tuesday) Science, Public Opinion and Polarization

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 62-74

                Taking Sides, pages 121-136, "Do We Need Research Guidelines for Geoengineering?"

                * Pew, "The Public’s Policy Priorities, 2015"

                * The Issue-Attention Cycle"


 February 18 (Thursday)  The Puzzles of American Government

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 81-123


February 23 (Tuesday) EXAM 1 - Study Guide for Exam 1


February 25 (Thursday) How Does the United States Govern Land?

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 317-358

                Taking Sides, pages 70-85 ("Endangered Species Act Litigation")


March 1 (Tuesday) Land /  How Does the United States Govern Energy?

    READ:  * "Angry Ranchers Complaints"

                Taking Sides, pages 137-150, "Should We Continue to Rely on Fossil Fuels?"


March 3 (Thursday) How Does the United States Govern Energy? Fossil Fuels

    READ:  Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 277-302

                 Taking Sides, pages 151-159, "Is Shale Gas the Solution to Our Energy Woes?"

                 * "Fracking Shakes the American West"


March 8 (Tuesday) How Does the United States Govern Energy? Nuclear Power & Nuclear Waste

       READ:  Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 302-305

                    Taking Sides, pages 291-300, "Should the United States Reprocess Spend Nuclear Fuel?"



March 10 (Thursday) How Does the United States Govern Energy? Renewables
     READ:  Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 305-311

                Taking Sides, pages 160-199, Renewable Energy / Biofuels / Hydropower


March 15 (Tuesday) Command and Control: Regulating Air & Water

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 197-203
               * Clean Power Plan Powerpoint
               * "How are environmentalists reacting to Obamas Clean Power Plan"
               * "2016 Holds Flurry of  Planning, Legal Drama for Clean Power Plan"



March 17 (Thursday) St. Patrick's Day - Class does not meet  


March 22 (Tuesday) How Does the United States Govern Air?

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 203-219


March 24  (Thursday) How Does the United States Govern Water?

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 219-237


March 29 - March 31 Spring Break - Class does not meet


April 5 (Tuesday)        EXAM 2 - Study Guide for Exam 2


April 7 (Thursday) Regulating Toxics and Toxic Waste

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 241-252

               Taking Sides, pages 263-277. "Is Bisphenol A a Potentially Serious Health Threat?"


April 12 (Tuesday) How Does the United States Govern Hazardous & Solid Waste?

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 252-272

               Taking Sides, pages 278-290, "Should Agricultural Animal Wastes Be Exempt From the Requirements of Superfund Legislation?"


April 14 (Thursday) Climate Change: Why So Much Political Controversy?

    READ:  Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 361-377

                Taking Sides, pages 101-120, "Is Anthropogenic Global Warming Real and Dangerous?"

                 * St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "STL Region grapples with hotter future"

                 * St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis's 2050 forecast calls for rain and rising rivers"

                 * St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis region doing little to prepare for climate change"

                 * St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis Commits to Climate Mitigation, Adaptation Plans"


April 19 (Tuesday) Climate Change / International Problems

    READ:  Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 377-392  

April 21 (Thursday) Managing International Problems

    READ: * Smith, The Environmental Policy Paradox, 288-322


April 26 (Tuesday) The Mediterranean 1      
    READ: Assignment & Assigned Country Basic Information in CIA Factbook
                * State of the Mediterranean 2012                                                    




April 28 (Thursday) The Mediterranean 2


May 3 (Tuesday) Population, Food, and Biodiversity

    READ: Rosenbaum, Environmental Politics and Policy, pages 282-289

                Taking Sides, pages 203-235, Population Problem / Commercial Fishing / High-Tech Agriculture


    MEMO DUE  (-1 point for each late day that ends with the letter "y")


May 5 (Thursday) The Future 

    READ: Taking Sides, pages 29-43, "Are There Limits to Growth?"



May 12 (Thursday)   FINAL EXAM, 7:30-9:30 - Study Guide for Final Exam



How to Be Fair-Minded About Politics and Policy  

When you complete the course, you should be more skilled in your ability to:


1. Understand and respect your own standpoints and standpoints that differ from yours.


2. Distinguish Fact and Opinion.


A fact is a statement that can be proven to be true. An opinion is a statement of a person's feelings about something. When you read or listen in this course, actively distinguish fact and opinion by asking:


- What is the objective evidence that supports someone's assertion?

- How does the person differentiate between facts and her or his interpretation of
  the facts?


3. Determine Cause and Effect.


Does the person assert that one fact follows as the result of another? (Examples include such statements as "Increased auto exhaust causes global warming," or "Government regulations cause unemployment"). How sweeping are these assertions? What is the evidence for it? How persuasive is this evidence?


4. Determine the accuracy and completeness of the information provided. When you read more than one point of view on an issue, you should think about the following:


- What facts and cause-effect relationships does everyone agree about?


- What facts and cause-effect relationships do authors or speakers disagree about?

- What important facts do some persons raise, while others ignore?

- What sources could be used to determine the accuracy of the information you hear?


6. Recognize Bias, Rhetoric, and Manipulation.


What do you think the person wants readers or listeners to think or do? How does the person use words or phrases to accomplish this? Does the author or speaker paint word pictures that are particularly attractive for the things she likes, or that are especially awful for the things that he doesn't like? How do the authors select examples to stir your emotions?


Recognize poor logic and faulty reasoning. When you read more than one point of view on an issue, you should think about the following logical problems.


a. Incorrect cause-effect relationships ("The Clean Air Act of 1990 preceded the recent economic recession, therefore the CAA caused the recession" [Were other factors much more influential in bringing about the economic downturn? Did the Clean Air Act have any substantial independent effect on the economy in recent years?]).  Many political arguments rely on “slippery slope” cause-and effect relationships, such as, “if we adopt this policy, we will be on the road to socialism (or anarchy, or ruin, or some other negative result).


b. Inaccurate or distorted use of statistics ("Environmental laws of the 1970s failed to reduce pollution;" think about whether, for example, population and economic growth offset environmental gains from policy). Think about widely different assumptions and projections of the future; for example, environmentalists may project that the protection of the Northern spotted owl may cause little net loss of jobs in the Pacific Northwest because they assume that such restrictions will benefit fishing, tourism, and other industries; the logging companies and unions may project the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.


c. Faulty analogies or comparisons ("Congress can't balance the federal budget, so how can it clean up the environment?" or "Auto companies have lied about safety, so how can they be trusted on emissions controls?" Such assertions tend to be matters of opinion rather than demonstrable facts).


d. Oversimplifications that ignore important information ("Tougher environmental laws can create jobs in the long run, so the economy will be better off if stricter laws are enacted;" such a statement ignores the number of persons who may be displaced in the short run with a given environmental law).  Often, opponents of a standpoint oversimplify it (setting up a “straw man”) and attack the hollow argument


e. Stereotyping ("all environmentalists are kooks; all conservatives are greedy crooks"). Modifiers such as "all," "never," or "always" often provide a tip off stereotyping.


f. Cherry-picking evidence (if you look at the years 19xx-20xx, global warming was not occurring, so global warming is not occurring).



Environmental New Service (ENS)Politico Energy and Environment / The Guardian: Environment
The National Library for the Environment / Earth Policy Institute
National Council for Science and the Environment / The Daily Planet
Florida Center for Environmental Studies
Environmental Organizations

Congress /  The President /  The Federal Judicial System / Environmental Law
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Department of the Interior /  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
U.S. Department of Energy / U.S. DOE Energy Topics A-Z
State and local government / Council of State Governments Environmental Policy / Interstate Compacts

Missouri State Government
Missouri Department of Conservation / Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Missouri data

St. Louis City / St. Louis County / St. Charles County / Jefferson County
Missouri Botanical Garden

EPA Envirofacts / St. Louis Air Quality Camera

League of Conservation Voters / Missouri Votes Conservation
Sierra Club / Sierra Club - Ozark Chapter
/ Natural Resources Defense Council / National Audubon Society / Audubon Society-St. Louis
/ National Wildlife Federation / Izaak Walton League / Environmental Defense Fund
/ World Wildlife Federation
/ Missouri Coalition for the Environment / American Rivers
Wilderness Society  /Greenpeace  /Resources for the Future
Nature Conservancy / the Trust for Public Land
/ Sustainable St. Louis / Trailnet / Greenway Network
Friends of the Earth  / Earth First! / Sea Shepards

U.S. Chamber of Commerce / National Association of Manufacturers
National Federation of Independent Business
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers /
American Waterways Operators /
American Farm Bureau / National Corn Growers Association /

National Center for Environmental Economics / Ecofriendly shopping
US Clean Air Market Programs / US Watershed Trading Programs

American Petroleum Institute / Peabody Energy / Nuclear Energy Institute /
MIT Report on the Future of Coal
Platts Energy News / Edison Electric Institute /

CRS Briefing on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 1996 / CRS Briefing on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 2001

Heritage Foundation Energy and Environment
Heartland Institute  
Competitive Enterprise Institute / American Land Rights Association

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Pesticide Net
Superfund / EPA Oil Spill program /
Missouri DNR Hazardous Waste Program / Superfund, RCRA, and other environmentally sensitive sites in St. Louis

U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste / St. Louis Region Solid Waste Disposal
Recycler’s World / Missouri Recycling Association    
Zero Waste America

Biotechnology Industry Organization

President's Council on Sustainable Development - Final Report / EPA's Community-Based Approaches site /
Northwest Environment Watch / National Geographic's Smart Suburb / Sierra Club Sprawl site / Sprawl City
Smart Growth Online
Sustainable St. Louis / Suburban Sprawl in St. Louis / Confluence Greenway

Biodiversity Webserver / U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation Systems
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program
Defenders of Wildlife / WildAid  / Center for Biological Diversity

Mountain States Legal Foundation / Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise / Defenders of Property Rights
Takings and the Courts

Missouri River Basin Association
Coalition to Protect the Missouri River
Midwest Area River Coalition / Coalition to Protect the Missouri River /
Missouri Farm Bureau

The Ocean Conservancy

Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook

United Nations Environment Programme  / UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
 Yearbook of International Co-operation on Environment and Development
/ Center for International Environmental Law

North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation

World Wildlife Federation Mediterranean Site

Last Updated January 24, 2016

Background downloaded from http://www.grsites.com