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Although local governments are well poised to address complex environmental policy problems, balancing local and supra-local politics is a key obstacle to overcome. The authors argue that when making policy choices, local policymakers balance local and supra-local influences by exploiting uncertainty in policy goals and associated target populations. Using probit models and survey data of city and county agencies, the authors examine how local and supra-local politics influence local policy choices. Four scenarios are identified: (a) pollution prevention and regional cooperation initiatives affected by local politics, (b) outreach initiatives affected by supra-local politics, (c) transportation alternative initiatives affected by both local and supra-local politics, and (d) energy alternatives and smart growth initiatives affected by interactions between local and supra-local politics. The conclusions suggest ambiguity frames environmental policies, which is to local policymakers’ advantage when balancing contentious multilevel politics.


The published title is "Balancing Multilevel Politics in Local Environmental Policy Choices".

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Fowler, L. & Rabinowitz, G. "Balancing Multilevel Politics in Local Environmental Policy Choices", Public Works Management & Policy, 25(1), pp. 75-97. Copyright © 2020, SAGE. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications. Doi: 10.1177/1087724X19834563