Greenpeace Influence On Policy Of The United

Greenpeace: Influence On Policy Of The United States Essay, Research Paper

The Influence of Green Groups on the Policy of the United States

Abstract: This research examines the relationship between environmental groups

and the policies of the United States. The United States political system has

been historically anthropocen-tric, or human centered. Environmental groups

have been attempting to change this to a biocentric or ecocentric viewpoint,

which includes the rights of animals and the environment. These views are

nature centered instead of human centered. This study will answer the question

of whether these groups have been effective at altering United States policies.

This will be done through the study of views offered by both sides. Also, a

survey will be used to determine whether congressmen views are consistent with

environmentalist views. It will also present whether policy change has taken

place, and if these changes have remained intact through the study of past

congressional decisions.

Research Problem

1. Research Question

Have environmental groups’ strategies been successful at altering the policies

of the United States?

2. Rational for the Research

This research will help environmental groups to identify the effectiveness of

their strategies. This is necessary for these groups to effectively alter the

policies of the United States, which is one of the largest polluters in the

world. If their strategies are ineffective then it will be necessary for them to

reassess their methods. Without the use productive methods these groups will

not be able to protect the environment. Animals, plants and the entire

ecosystem must have the same protection as humans have. An ecocentric viewpoint

establishes the right of the environment to have legal standing. This gives

people the ability to defend the right of an animal to exist with the same

rights as humans. Without this protection, people will be just as negatively

affected as the environment. The earth must be thought of as a living organism,

if one part is hurt then the whole planet will feel the effects. Unfortunately,

business and governments take the stance that the earth is more like a machine.

That is, at times if a part is hurt it can be repaired, without it effecting the

whole system.

Literature Review

The literature on environmental groups and their influence and activities is

vast. Several themes concerning the groups’ influence in changing United

States policy exist. The American Psychological Association has done studies on

ecocentric and anthropocentric attitudes (Thomas, 1994). Ecocentric values have

arisen recently as environmental problems have come to the public’s attention.

Anthropocentric values have existed much longer. They have become

institutionalized into our political and economic system.

The movement toward environmental awareness arose in the political activism in

the 60’s. Although these values have recently been declining according to

Finger (1993). These biocentric and anthropocentric views are also examined by

Wildes (1995). Wildes also explains the beginning of the movement in the 60’s,

and the number of similar theories developed during the same era. In his study

he applies neo-marxism to the relationship towards Man and Nature. By doing

this he shows how the government and industry uses the environment for its own

use, often neglecting the resulting effects.

Dodson (1995) examines if either of these opposing viewpoints offer plausible

answers to current problems. Dodson also explains how the groups interact.

Through this interaction they form political policy. Hampicke (1994) address the

vulnerability of the species and ecosystems to permanent destruction. Also

shown is how conserva-tion costs are not excessive as some in our government

believe. Lichterman (1995) shows that green groups not only have problems

relating towards our government, but also multicultural obstacles. These

groups must bring together several interests in order to form a unified strategy

to present to the United States government.

Environmental lobbyists have so far been unsuccessful in their efforts to amend

existing environmental laws. Chemical manufactur-ing and other industry’s

lobbies have been able to block their efforts. They have used promising of

campaign funding to influence Congress to support industries (Dowie, 1995).

Senator Ted Stevens opposed the building of a pipeline across Alaska’s coastal

plain in 1977. He pointed out the tragic environmental costs of oil

development in his home state. Now he is a part of a group of senators who are

leading efforts to roll back environmental laws (Foley, 1995).

Congress has been modifying the country’s environmental policy to suit business

interests during its first eight months in power. Senator Bob Dole sponsored a

risk assessment bill. This bill required that new federal human health and

safety standards be weighed against their economic costs. This bill was

defeated by the Natural Resources Defense Council lobby. Congress has also

attached over fifty riders to various appropriations bills to all anti-

environment projects while minimizing public knowledge of the bills (Adams,

1995, 3). One of these riders was to a federal budget cutting bill. This

rider allowed private companies to salvage damaged trees in national lands.

Other similar riders include making it legal to consider the sale of public

assets toward the reduction of the budget deficit. Another bill passed banned

the addition of more species to the Endangered Species list and allows increased

logging at Tongass National Forest (Adams, 1995, 2).

Environmental policy is positively affected by pressure from customers,

shareholders, government regulations, neighborhood groups and community groups.

Although environmental policy is negatively affected by lobby pressure from

other groups. This is from empirical data from firms that have an official

policy for dealing with environmental questions (Henriques, 1996).

Tension between social equity and environmental politics has existed in the

United States over the past thirty years. This tension has existed on a social

classes basis, a gender basis, a racial basis, and an economic basis. Several

of these tensions however are more perceived than real. There is a possible

common grounds for these two goals (Paehlke, 1993).

Research Concepts and Hypotheses

1. Research Concepts and Variables

Change In United States policy is dependent upon the action of interest groups.

These groups are only able to alter policy if there actions are effective at

promoting their cause. This can be done through the support of the people, or

the voters. It can also be done by directly lobbying Congress for the passage

of a law, or lobbying to prevent a passage of law. It is also possible to

directly gain public and political attention through protests and other actions

that draw people’s attention. The voting records of congressmen and their

current view will be examined. Environmental lobbying efforts will also be

examined in order to conduct this research.

2. Research Propositions and Hypotheses

The United States government is anthropocentric in its attitude towards the

environment. Although there was a surge of environmental awareness in the 60’s

this has declined in the recent decade. Green groups have been trying to shift

this viewpoint towards a biocentric view. They are faced not only with the

problem with relating to government, but also to different cultures. With

effective strategies they will be successful at influencing political decision

making. The effectiveness of their methods must be analyzed in order to ensure

that what they are doing is worthwhile.


In order to research the effectiveness of environmental groups at altering

policy of the United States government, a close-ended questionnaire will be

created. This questionnaire will be sent to congressmen. The questionnaire

will attempt to determine the congressmen’s standing on different issues.

These issues will be theoretical policy choices. The policy choices will

either have a biocentric standing or a anthropocentric standing. A Likert scale

will be used to determine how the congressman stands on an issue. A sample of

the survey is included at the end of this proposal.

It will also be important to determine whether the congressman is a Democrat or

Republican. The state that the congressman is from will also be important to

determine. These two indicators are important because of possible alternative

influences on the congressman. Validity of the answers can be determined by

comparing answers with recent voting habits of individual respondents.

The lobbying efforts of green groups will also be studied by examining their

political activities, which include lobbying and other forms of political

pressure. If there is a change in the congressmen’s environmental positions

over a period of time this will need to be examined closely. The political

pressure from environmental groups at the time of change will also need to be


If there has been consistent change in congressmen’s views and pressure from

environmental groups at that time, then this will be considered as a positive

influence by the green groups. If there is a change in policy and no pressure

from green groups is noticeable then the reasons should be deduced. The

reasoning behind this change could be used to help the environmental groups.

If there has been no change in policy or policy has changed against the

environment, then the methods used by green groups will not be seen as

effective. The importance of determining this is to give the groups an

opportunity to change there methods in order to be more effective.

Work Schedule

It will take about one week to prepare the survey and mailing list. After this

the results should be back within four to six weeks. While waiting for the

results, the voting record of congressmen will be examined. Also during this

period, recent lobbying efforts by environmental groups will be recorded. It

will then take about two more weeks to compare the data.


Adams, John H. 1995. Breaking Faith. Amicus Journal. 17, 3: 2.

Adams, John H. 1995. Special Report: Congress and the Environment.

Amicus Journal. 17, 3: 3.

Dodson, A. 1995. The Politics of Nature: Explorations in Green

Political Theory. New York, NY: Routledge.

Dowie, Mark. 1995. Greens Outgunned. Earth Island Journal. 10, 2: 26.

Finger, Matthias. 1992. The Changing Green Movement – A Clarification. Research

in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change. 2: 229-246.

Foley, Dana Nadel. 1995. A Congressional Sampler: Rollbacks, Rhetoric, and

Greenbacks in the World of Washington’s Anti-Greens. Amicus Journal. 17, 3: 13.

Hampicke, U. 1994. Ethics and Economics of Conservation. Biology Conservation

Journal. 67, 3: 219-231.

Henriques, Irene and Perry Sadorsky. 1996. The Determinants of an

Environmentally Responsive Firm: An Empirical Approach. Journal of Environmental

Economics and Management. 30, 3: 381.

Lichterman, Paul. 1995. Piecing Together Multicultural Community: Cultural

Differences in Community Building among Grass-Roots Environmentalists. Social

Problems Journal 42, 4: 513-534.

Paehlke, Robert. 1993. Environment/Equity: Tensions in North American Politics.

Policy Studies Journal. 21, 4: 672.

Thomas, Dietz. 1994. The Value Basis of Environmental Concern. Journal of Social

Issues. 50, 3: 65-84.

Wildes, F. T. 1995. Recent Themes in Conservation Philosophy and Policy in the

United States. Environmental Conservation Journal. 22, 2: 143-150.


1) What is your political affiliation?

2) Which state do you represent?

Please answer the following questions in terms of (1) for strongly agree to (10)

for strongly disagree.

3) Should genetic engineering be allowed to increase the production of a farm

even if there is a slight risk to the environment?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

4) Should a nuclear power plant be allowed to be built to meet the local energy

needs of an area?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

5) Should there be mandatory recycling laws even though not all areas have an

existing recycling system?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

6) Should residents be allowed to set thermostat readings to desired levels even

though it may use more energy?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

7) Should farmers be allowed to protect their livestock by hunting indigenous

wild animals?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

8) Should public parks be open to increased mining or logging to spur the

economy of an area?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

9) Should federal laws outlawing the possession of feathers or other parts of

birds of prey be strictly enforced?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

10) Should industry be forced to reduce air and water pollution originating from

its factories even if it means loss of employees and reduced job opportunities?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

11) Should the use of private automobiles be restricted in order to reduce air


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

12) Should the government increase taxes on products that harm the environment?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


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