Public Participation in Local Environmental Governance: A Question of Identity

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Lowery, Robert Cameron
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As a result of neoliberal economics, a significant trend in environmental governance in the United States has been to devolve primary environmental regulatory responsibility to local governments. In turn local governments have become the arena for the formulation and implementation of policy. Critiques of local environmental governance strategies have focused on their structures, functions, successes, and failures. However, what many of these critical discussions miss are issues of identity. Examining the identity politics of environmental groups, actions, and movements can help bring clarity to the underlying factors that influence whether or not groups or individuals support or actively protest environmental regulation. This paper uses a study of a Charleston, SC based citizen's environmental committee to explore common factors in identity among its constituents using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods. It then provides an identity-based explanation for their participation in local environmental governance strategies.
Environmental policy - Citizen participation; Local government and environmental policy