rusq: Vol. 51 Issue 1: p. 78
Sources: Encyclopedia of the U.S. Government and the Environment: History, Policy, and Politics
Paul MacLennan

Paul MacLennan, Reference Assistant, CSU-East Bay Library, Hayward, California

United States government policy concerning the environment has developed through the last two hundred years as the nation expanded westward, new natural resources were discovered and exploited, and the federal government itself increased in size, authority, and jurisdiction. It is a complicated history involving issues that include federalism vs. local authority, free enterprise, demand for energy, industrialization, population growth, and the increasing scientific knowledge about the effects and hazards of land use and resource exploitation. It is also a history that continues to have impact in our lives and our environment today, as well as ramifications for our future as policies are changed with the shifts in personnel in government. It is therefore important that library communities have access to current resources, such as the Encyclopedia of the U.S. Government and the Environment: History, Policy, and Politics, that engage the reader on this interplay regarding the environment between the government’s policy makers and their various constituencies.

General Editor, Mathew Lindstrom, has gathered 120 researchers and academic writers to create a two-volume reference work of approximately 300 signed entries. The entries (of one to three pages) are listed alphabetically, complemented by black and white photography and completed by individual lists of references. The first volume includes three prefatory essays on the history of government policy and politics regarding the environment and the second volume concludes with a timeline and index. Of special note are the expanded entries, titled “Primary Documents” on landmark court rulings and legislation on environmental issues (for example, Marine Mammal Protection Act) that are given extended coverage by including the actual text of the ruling or law.

In his introduction Lindstrom describes this work as a “comprehensive overview of the major environment laws and actors in and out of the of the U.S. government” and this reviewer agrees with his estimation (xviii). Lindstrom has assembled an excellent reference work that offers the reader ideas for further research and study on a broad spectrum of environmental and political issues. As this title is also the first encyclopedia to deal solely with government policies and the environment, there is no reference title for comparison and this reviewer would suggest it as a relevant addition to any public or academic library.



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