The state of California is the force leading the nation’s automobile emission standards. Environmental groups working on clean air policies, however, have been co-opted by the state agency responsible for setting the state’s automobile emission standards, the California Air Resources Board, and the automobile and oil industries. This has been done primarily by controlling the nature of the discourse surrounding the public debate on how to improve air quality. This debate is centered not on health and the environment but on “ecological modernization,” or the technology of controlling air pollution. Thus land use planning is ignored or is not considered as a viable policy option. Given the bounded nature of this debate, I hold that the most ethical and efficacious approach for environmental groups is to withdraw from the state’s policymaking process and redeploy their time and resources toward civil society. I draw this conclusion by employing an ethics rooted in democracy and by offering a description of the forces that are driving the ecological modernization of the automobile in California.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Administration
- Business and International Management