Environmental Deceptions

The Tension Between Liberalism and Environmental Policymaking in the United States

By Matthew Alan Cahn

Subjects: Political Theory
Series: SUNY series in International Environmental Policy and Theory
Paperback : 9780791422649, 192 pages, December 1994
Hardcover : 9780791422632, 192 pages, January 1995

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Table of contents

List of Tables


1. The Political Economy of Liberal Public Policy

2. Symbolic Politics: Creating and Accommodating Public Demand

3. The Environmental Policy Subsystem

4. Clean Air Policy

5. Water Policy

6. The Politics of Waste

7. Energy and the Politics of Consumption

8. Conclusion: Options and Alternatives

Appendix 1. Federal Environmental Policy Summary, 1969-1992

Appendix 2. Toxic Pollution Released by Manufacturing Industries, 1988

Appendix 3. Oil and Hazardous Waste Spills in and around U. S. Waters, 1970-1986

Appendix 4. Public Opinion on Environmental Issues

Appendix 5. Membership in Selected Environmental Groups, 1980 and 1989




This book explores the tensions between American political culture, which is predicated on self-interest, and environmental regulation, which restricts individual property rights.


Environmental Deceptions brings together normative analysis and empirical data to explain the structural limitations liberal society places on environmental improvement. Whereas liberal society is predicated on individual self-interest, environmental legislation is predicated on communal regulation of individual property rights. Cahn's aim is to expose the tensions between American political culture and environmental regulation in an effort to make environmental policy discourse more effective. By analyzing such areas as air policy, water policy, waste policy, and energy policy, he exposes the subtle tensions that often lead to failure and explains why traditional models of environmental legislation are insufficient to resolve existing environmental dilemmas.

Matthew Alan Cahn is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at California State University, Northridge.


"While many authors have touched upon this topic, few have been daring enough to take on the issue of liberalism and environmental policy head on as this author has done. Cahn's study is timely and is likely to be widely adopted by instructors teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses on environmental politics. " — Sheldon Kamieniecki, University of Southern California

"The most appealing aspect of this book is the detailed coverage provided of changes in environmental policy and administration in the U. S. since the late 1960s, including the general environmental policy changes by the new Clinton/Gore administration. It contains a wealth of environmental law and policy information that will serve as a useful source book. Environmentalists and community groups would benefit from this wealth of detail. " -- Robyn Eckersley, Monash University, Australia