Speaker: Dr. Tyler Scott, Assistant Professor Environmental Science & Policy, University of California, Davis
Abstract: National policy goals like reducing poverty or protecting the environment are translated into actionable programs and regulations by public agencies. To the extent that agencies and field offices exhibit inconsistent decision-making, government- and agency-wide policy priorities such as climate change mitigation may founder. Focusing on the case of climate change considerations under the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act, this paper draws on eight years of Environmental Impact Assessment documents produced by federal agencies to model differences in how agencies address climate change. Using structural topic modeling, we demonstrate that federal agencies’ consideration of climate change in EISs is largely focused on two specific areas--how changing hydrologic cycles and weather patterns will influence public works, and how extent of project emissions. Further, the extent to which agencies discuss either topic appears to be more strongly associated with political ideology than with the climate salience of projects.
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