Pathways and Pivots
The environmental policymaking system consists of the macro-institutions of Congress, the executive branch, and the courts, and these institutions provide specific pathways for policymaking. In addition, due to the nature of checks and balances in the US system, the macro-institutions also provide critical pivot points, where consensus is needed for policy change to occur. Chapter 6 examines the macro-institutions and how they have attempted (or not) to address climate change. First, this chapter addresses Congress and its role in environmental policymaking, the increase in congressional polarization regarding environmental issues, the various attempts to pass climate legislation, and the Climate Solutions Caucus in the House. Next, this chapter examines the role of the president as well as executive agencies in environmental policy, gives a brief history of the Environmental Protection Agency and, using EPA budget and workforce data, examines the role of political control in EPA’s capacity, and then discusses the various climate actions the EPA has developed across the Obama and Trump administrations. Finally, the chapter concludes with a discussion of the role of the courts in environmental policy as well as the landmark climate cases.