The Rural-Urban Linkage to Environmental Policy Making in the American West: A Focus on Idaho

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In a contemporary and comprehensive analysis of politics and public policy in the American West, Clive Thomas makes the case that one of the most significant factors driving the policy-making process in the West is the marked rise in the intensity of conflict between urban and rural areas. More importantly, Thomas specifically links this rural-urban tension to environmental issues. He argues that environmental and quality of life issues are likely to be the most significant factors facing policy makers as the Intermountain West continues to urbanize. Using counties as the unit of analysis, we investigate this rural-urban linkage to environmental policy making in the state of Idaho. Analysis is based upon both aggregate county data and survey of government elites (county officials). Our findings suggest that critical differences remain between urban and rural areas with respect to concern for the environment.