Kent E. Portney

Kent E. Portney is Professor and Senior Fellow in the Institute for Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Texas A&M University. He is the author of Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously (MIT Press).

  • Sustainability

    Sustainability

    Kent E. Portney

    A concise and accessible examination of sustainability in a range of contemporary contexts, from economic development to government policy.

    The word “sustainability” has been connected to everything from a certain kind of economic development to corporate promises about improved supply sourcing. But despite the apparent ubiquity of the term, the concept of sustainability has come to mean a number of specific things. In this accessible guide to the meanings of sustainability, Kent Portney describes the evolution of the idea and examines its application in a variety of contemporary contexts—from economic growth and consumption to government policy and urban planning.

    Portney takes as his starting point the 1987 definition by the World Commission on Environment and Development of sustainability as economic development activity that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” At its heart, Portney explains, sustainability focuses on the use and depletion of natural resources. It is not the same as environmental protection or natural resource conservation; it is more about finding some sort of steady state so that the earth can support both human population and economic growth.

    Portney looks at political opposition to the promotion of sustainability, which usually questions the need for sustainability or calls its costs unacceptable; collective and individual consumption of material goods and resources and to what extent they must be curtailed to achieve sustainability; the role of the private sector, and the co-opting of sustainability by corporations; government policy on sustainability at the international, national, and subnational levels; and how cities could become models for sustainability action.

    • Paperback $15.95
  • Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously, Second Edition

    Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously, Second Edition

    Economic Development, the Environment, and Quality of Life in American Cities

    Kent E. Portney

    A theoretically driven comparison of sustainability programs in American cities, updated with the latest research and additional case studies.

    Today most major cities have undertaken some form of sustainability initiative. Yet there have been few systematic comparisons across cities, or theoretically grounded considerations of what works and what does not, and why. In Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously, Kent Portney addresses this gap, offering a comprehensive overview and analysis of sustainability programs and policies in American cities. After discussing the conceptual underpinnings of sustainability, he examines the local aspects of sustainability; considers the measurement of sustainability and offers an index of “serious” sustainability for the fifty-five largest cities in the country; examines the relationship between sustainability and economic growth; and discusses issues of governance, equity, and implementation. He also offers extensive case studies, with separate chapters on large, medium-size, and small cities, and provides an empirically grounded analysis of why some large cities are more ambitious than others in their sustainability efforts.

    This second edition has been updated throughout, with new material that draws on the latest research. It also offers numerous additional case studies, a new chapter on management and implementation issues, and a greatly expanded comparative analysis of big-city sustainability initiatives.

    Portney shows how cities use the broad rubric of sustainability to achieve particular political ends, and he dispels the notion that only cities that are politically liberal are interested in sustainability. Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously draws a roadmap for effective sustainability initiatives.

    • Paperback $34.00
  • Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously

    Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously

    Economic Development, the Environment, and Quality of Life in American Cities

    Kent E. Portney

    Today at least twenty-five major U.S. cities have pursued some form of sustainability initiative. Although many case studies and "how-to" manuals have been published, there has been little systematic comparison of these cities' programs and initiatives. In this book Kent Portney lays the theoretical groundwork for research on what works and what does not, and why. Distinguishing cities on the basis of population characteristics and region for his analysis, Portney shows how cities use the broad rubric of sustainability to achieve particular political ends. Cities that take sustainability seriously, such as Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle, use broad definitions that go well beyond concern for the physical environment or creating jobs. They pursue sustainability at many levels and integrate concern for economic development, the environment, and quality of life across all activities of city government. Cities that take sustainability less seriously, such as Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando, confine it to such issues as solid waste disposal, brownfields, redevelopment, and neighborhood beautification. Still other cities, such as New Haven, Brownsville, and Milwaukee, do considerably less to work toward sustainability. Portney begins by reviewing the conceptual underpinnings of sustainable development and sustainable communities. The comparisons that follow provide a foundation for assessing the range of what is possible and desirable for sustainability initiatives. In the book's conclusion, Portney assesses the extent to which cities can use the pursuit of sustainability either to foster change in public values or merely to reinforce values that are already reflected in systems of governance.

    • Hardcover $70.00
    • Paperback $32.00

Contributor

  • Toward Sustainable Communities, Second Edition

    Toward Sustainable Communities, Second Edition

    Transition and Transformations in Environmental Policy

    Daniel A. Mazmanian and Michael E. Kraft

    A new edition with new and updated case studies and analysis that demonstrate the trend in U.S. environmental policy toward sustainability at local and regional levels.

    This analysis of U.S. environmental policy offers a conceptual framework that serves as a valuable roadmap to the array of laws, programs, and approaches developed over the last four decades. Combining case studies and theoretical discussion, the book views environmental policy in the context of three epochs: the rise of command-and-control federal regulation in the 1970s, the period of efficiency-based reform efforts that followed, and the more recent trend toward sustainable development and integrated approaches at local and regional levels. It assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the new approaches and places these experiments within the larger framework of an emerging trend toward community sustainability.

    Toward Sustainable Communities assesses environmental policy successes and failures at the subnational, regional, and state levels and offers eight case studies of policy arenas in which transformations have been occurring—from air and water pollution control and state and local climate change policy to open space preservation, urban growth, and regional ecosystem management. It discusses the various meanings of sustainability and whether the concept can serve as a foundation for a new era of environmental policy. The second edition has been substantially updated, with five new chapters (including the chapter on climate change) and all other chapters revised and shortened. It is suitable as a primary or secondary text for environmental policy courses and as a resource for scholars and policymakers.

    Contributors Elisa Barbour, Michele M. Betsill, Daniel J. Fiorino, Marc Gaden, Lamont C. Hempel, Michael E. Kraft, William D. Leach, Mark Lubell, Daniel A. Mazmanian, Nicole Nakagawa, Kent E. Portney, Daniel Press, Paul A. Sabatier, Barry G. Rabe, Michael B. Teitz

    • Hardcover $11.75
    • Paperback $35.00