Establishing Policies of Envrionmental Protection in Hubei, 1970-1990
This dissertation investigates the evolution of environmental protection (EP) policy in Hubei Province from the early 1970s to the middle 1980s. It addresses the local impacts of economic and environmental policies during this remarkable period of transition in China, taking Hubei as a case study to capture the local evolution of policy implementation and establishment of EP by state agencies in China. Discussion illuminates the early origins of a shift in governance in Hubei from an agenda dominated by economic growth objectives toward more balanced regulation, revealing a series of features in China’s early policy failures in the regulation of industrial waste emissions, and later policy adaptations by sub-national government agencies. The study consists of an introduction and six substantive chapters. Chapter 2 outlines Hubei’s historical and environmental setting. Chapter 3 examines how agencies responsible for EP were established in Hubei from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, identifying four groups of agencies. Chapter 4 reviews scholarly writing by Chinese economists on EP issues, illuminating the early formation and underlying assumptions of China’s national economic policies of EP during the 1970s and 1980s. Chapters 5 and 6 present case studies on Hubei’s industrial waste pollution, describing how communities were affected by industrial waste emissions that imposed enormous damage to water, air and soil. Chapter 7 examines how local EP agencies struggled with administrative red tape, under-funding, and under-staffing. Guided by their mandate to protect the environment and by growth-oriented economic principles, Hubei’s EP agencies also demonstrated local initiative and policy adaptation in implementing EP policies. In conclusion, I discuss how practices of pricing the “right to pollute” evolved in Hubei and how the practical recognition of industries’ right to pollute compromised the local implementation of national environmental policies.
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