Disasters like earthquakes are known as focusing events—sudden calamities that cause both citizens and policymakers to pay more attention to a public problem and often to press for solutions. This book, the first comprehensive analysis of these dramatic events, explains how and why some public disasters change political agendas and, ultimately, public policies.
Thomas A. Birkland explores important successes and failures in the policy process by analyzing the political outcomes of four types of events: earthquakes, hurricanes, oil spills, and nuclear accidents. Using this empirical data to go beyond an intuitive understanding of focusing events, he presents a theory of where and when these events will gain attention and how they trigger political reactions. Birkland concludes that different types of disasters result in different kinds of agenda politics. Public outrage over the highly visible damage caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, for example, ended a fourteen-year logjam holding back Congressional legislation to regulate oil spill cleanups. On the other hand, the intangible effects of Three Mile Island had less concrete results in a political arena that was already highly polarized.
Integrating a variety of theories on the policy process, including agenda setting, policy communities, advocacy coalitions, the political aspects of the news media, and the use of symbols in political debate, Birkland illuminates the dynamics of event-driven policy activity. As the first extensive study of its kind, this book offers new insights into the policy process.
One of the most controversial atomic projects of the US nuclear industry during the 1960s and 1970s was the construction of a nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon, a relatively unsettled and biologically rich part of the central California coast. Conservation Fallout traces the course of opposition that tore apart local communities, almost destroyed the Sierra Club, and attracted massive demonstrations in San Francisco and at the plant itself. The result is a balanced examination of nuclear politics in California and of the evolution and strategies of little-studied grassroots protest groups determined to resist the spread of nuclear technology.
Rees offers the first in-depth account of the extraordinary transformation in the safety standards, operations, and management of the nation's nuclear facilities spurred by the accident at Three Mile Island. Detailing the surprising success of self-regulation within the nuclear industry, his book reveals the possibilities for effective communitarian action.
Examines the nuclear power plant constructed at Shoreham, New York, and the accumulated miscalculations and mishaps that eventually forced its deconstruction. An intricate study of the groups, policies and regulatory issues involved in a historic legal battle.
In the early 1970s construction began on a nuclear power plant at Laguna Verde in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Initially, most local citizens were largely unconcerned with the prospect of having the nuclear plant in their community. With the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, however, residents' complacency toward the power plant soon turned to opposition. Protest groups such as the Madres Veracruzanas emerged to join existing environmental groups in a fight to close down the facility.
In Mothers and the Mexican Antinuclear Power Movement, Velma García-Gorena traces the protest movement against the Mexican government's Laguna Verde nuclear plant, outlining the movement's formation, development, and decline. Documenting the movement's key players and turning points in superb detail, she interweaves important historical narrative with a deft examination of the events, framing her analysis in terms of social movement literature. In a departure from the more conventional New Social Movements approach to analyzing antinuclear movements, García-Gorena demonstrates how, in many ways, movements of this kind are not so new and how a modified "political process" approach fits much better. With a sophisticated application of various social movements' paradigms, García-Gorena incorporates perspectives such as resource mobilization, political process paradigms, and feminist theory.
Timely, well written, and thoroughly researched, Mothers and the Mexican Antinuclear Power Movement fills a major gap in the literature on grassroots environmental movements in Latin America. Both rich in empirical detail and convincing in its conclusions, this study provides a broader understanding of Mexican social movements and the quest for democracy in developing countries.
When Consumers Power’s plan to build a nuclear power plant in Midland, Michigan, was announced in 1967, it promised to free Michigan residents from expensive, dirty, coal-fired electricity and to keep Dow Chemical operating in the state. But before the plan could be completed, the facility was called an engineering nightmare, a financial disaster, a construction boondoggle, a political headache, and a regulatory muddle. Most locals had welcomed nuclear power eagerly. Why, after almost twenty years and billions of dollars, did this promise of a high-tech, coal-free, prosperous future fail? And what lessons does its failure offer today as Americans try to develop a clean energy economy based on renewable power? To answer these questions, energy consultant and author LeRoy Smith carefully traces the design and construction decisions made by Consumers Power, including its choice of reactor and its hiring of the Bechtel Corporation to manage the project. He also details the rapidly changing regulatory requirements and growing public concern about the environmental risks of nuclear power generation. An examination of both the challenges and importance of renewable energy, this book will be of value to anyone interested in grappling with the complexities of our ongoing efforts to eliminate fossil fuels in favor of clean renewable energy.
Janet Wood The Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2007 Library of Congress TK9202.W64 2007
This title is the first of four 'new-look' books in the Power and Energy series that are aimed at industry professionals rather than academics. Nuclear Power explains in detail how nuclear power works, its costs, its benefits as part of the electricity supply system, and also examines its record.
Rising fossil fuel prices and concerns about greenhouse gas emissions are fostering a nuclear power renaissance and a revitalized uranium mining industry across the American West. In The Price of Nuclear Power, environmental sociologist Stephanie Malin offers an on-the-ground portrait of several uranium communities caught between the harmful legacy of previous mining booms and the potential promise of new economic development. Using this context, she examines how shifting notions of environmental justice inspire divergent views about nuclear power’s sustainability and equally divisive forms of social activism.
Drawing on extensive fieldwork conducted in rural isolated towns such as Monticello, Utah, and Nucla and Naturita, Colorado, as well as in upscale communities like Telluride, Colorado, and incorporating interviews with community leaders, environmental activists, radiation regulators, and mining executives, Malin uncovers a fundamental paradox of the nuclear renaissance: the communities most hurt by uranium’s legacy—such as high rates of cancers, respiratory ailments, and reproductive disorders—were actually quick to support industry renewal. She shows that many impoverished communities support mining not only because of the employment opportunities, but also out of a personal identification with uranium, a sense of patriotism, and new notions of environmentalism. But other communities, such as Telluride, have become sites of resistance, skeptical of industry and government promises of safe mining, fearing that regulatory enforcement won’t be strong enough. Indeed, Malin shows that the nuclear renaissance has exacerbated social divisions across the Colorado Plateau, threatening social cohesion. Malin further illustrates ways in which renewed uranium production is not a socially sustainable form of energy development for rural communities, as it is utterly dependent on unstable global markets.
The Price of Nuclear Power is an insightful portrait of the local impact of the nuclear renaissance and the social and environmental tensions inherent in the rebirth of uranium mining.
In Radiant Infrastructures Rahul Mukherjee explores how the media coverage of nuclear power plants and cellular phone antennas in India—what he calls radiant infrastructures—creates environmental publics: groups of activists, scientists, and policy makers who use media to influence public opinion. In documentaries, lifestyle television shows, newspapers, and Bollywood films, and through other forms of media (including radiation-sensing technologies), these publics articulate contesting views about the relationships between modernity, wireless signals, and nuclear power. From testimonies of cancer patients who live close to cell towers to power plant operators working to contain information about radiation leaks and health risks, discussions in the media show how radiant infrastructures are at once harbingers of optimism about India's development and emitters of potentially carcinogenic radiation. In tracing these dynamics, Mukherjee expands understandings of the relationship between media and infrastructure and how people make sense of their everyday encounters with technology and the environment.