Institutionalism Versus the Endangered Species Act: How Western Congressional Representatives and Senators Dominate Wildlife Policymaking
Institutionalism Versus the Endangered Species Act: How Western Congressional Representatives and Senators Dominate Wildlife Policymaking. In my book Wildlife Politics, one of the conceptual frameworks that I use to explain wildlife conservation policymaking involves institutionalism. Institutionalism refers to how a few individuals and groups are often able to dominate policymaking institutions so that resulting policy reflects their views regardless of whether these policies are favored by the majority of the public or others involved in the institutions. It is particularly relevant to legislatures at both Federal and state levels. Currently, in Congress, there is an excellent examples of institutionalism at work concerning the development of policies aimed at weakening the Endangered Species Act. An E&E news article by Cobin Hyar available at http://www.wyofile.com/endangered-species-act-battle-raging-public-eye/
Discusses how one representative, Rob Bishop of Utah, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, is conducting hearings about revising the ESA. The article states that a Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (of the Natural Resources Committee) is taking a lead role—it is led by another Republican from a Western state—Raul Labrador of Idaho. This illustrates how Western states dominate natural resources policymaking. Most of the public lands and largest national parks and public lands run by the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service are in the West, Republicans dominate wildlife conservation. The article describes how this subcommittee has the largest staff of any Natural Resources subcommittee and it is dominated by conservatives who have targeted the ESA for years such as staff leader Rob Gordon formerly of the Heritage Foundation and has written articles on how the ESA was
“ripe” for amendment. In the Senate, the Senator John Barasso, a Republican Senator from Wyoming, heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that is working on an overhaul of the ESA. However, Barasso is seeking to gain some bipartisan support from Democrats since they (due to Senate rules) could filibuster any proposed overhaul. The ranking minority Senator is Democrat Tom Carper whose head of staff, Mary Frances Repko, is well-known for her previous work fighting “anti-environmental riders” introduced by Republicans. The article also describes some of the key groups that are being consulted by the committees such as the Western Governors’ Association and other organizations such as “sportsmen, environmentalists, extractive industries (energy and lumber) and agriculturalists. One environmental participant is the head of Defenders of Wildlife, Jamie Rapoport Clark, who is seeking to achieve a compromise that makes the law “work better” but to limit changes to “administrative reforms” rather than a fundamental weakening. Prior to the rise of the environmental movement in the 1960s, the entire process was done in a quiet manner with no environmental groups participating at all but the role of these "sub-governments" has been weakened some, though they are still powerful. Environmental groups now monitor these sub-governments so "sneak attacks" are not possible. But, as is clear from above, dominance of institutions nevertheless is a key factor in explaining policy outcomes in regard to wildlife conservation.
During my research for the book, I noticed that there was no blog available for sharing informaton on wildlife conservation and thus I set up this blog to accomplish this purpose. Please share any informaticoncerning issues related to wildife policy and politics. I welcome feedback from users concerning this blog and website.