Neoliberalism, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chesapeake Bay
Steffy, Kathryn Marie
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Neoliberalism, as the influence of economic considerations within the political process, has impacted environmentalism on a variety of levels. Without regulation, the neoliberal capitalist drive to maximize production, consumption, and profits is antagonistic to environmental sustainability. The influences that corporations and economic elites have within modern democracies holds substantial implications for the rigor and enforcement of environmental policies. Particular to the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency offers numerous illustrations of neoliberal influence within its history and policy practices. These influences inevitably impact the Agency's ability to accomplish the goals of their mission and purpose statements. As seen through regulations such as the Clean Water Act, neoliberal pressure has altered the priorities of government on a federal level to prioritize economic well-being over that of other social goods, such as environmental protection. The Clean Water Act prioritizes economic profitability over environmental protection through cap and trade policies, such as NPDES permits, and legitimizes pollution-causing behavior through TMDLs. Further, the act was weakened by neoliberal forces with the non-point source exemption created for the sake of avoiding economic harm to large industries and its shortcomings are visible within many of the nation's waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay. Through a case study, this project demonstrates how the neoliberal influences impacting the Environmental Protection Agency has resonated in its policies, like in the abilities of the Clean Water Act to sufficiently clean-up the Chesapeake Bay within its proposed timeline.
- Masters Theses