Political

First, there exists at the federal level a unique set of political circumstances in which government, in conjunction with the court system, attempts to enforce externally imposed policies on regulated entities and individuals. Several actors, including non-profit organizations, influence the development of these policies in the democratic legislative process. A further complication in the federal regulatory model is the role of states. In the absence of a unified national vision [35], some states have taken a lead role on issues such as auto emissions, often emboldening other states to do the same [29,36-38].

The resulting overall U.S. regulatory model is far from perfect. While many actors may influence environmental policy, the legislative process and resulting legal documents are sometimes too arcane and complex for those outside the regulatory arena to understand [39]. In addition, even if solid background information on environmental hazards exists, it is possible that decisionmakers will not act to remove the hazards [31,40,41].

In contrast to the U.S. regulatory system, other cultural, economic, and physical factors in other countries have produced very different national responses to regulation. In Japan, for example, non-profits do not have the same status as those in the U.S., and the application process for these organizations is prohibitively expensive. These factors make non-profits less common and often less influential than those in the U.S. Japan has also taken a more collaborative stance toward industry. Where this approach has been successful, Japanese corporations have become self-regulating, cleaning up their environmental damage and factoring costs into daily operations [42,43]. A different approach also arose in Germany, where environmental issues became the Green Party's focus in Germany's multiparty system. As that party fares, so fares environmental policy. While this arrangement allows direct access to the political process, it contains the inherent geographic and temporal limitations of the political system [43]. In addition, environmental initiatives may become stalled if the Green Party is not united or in power.

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