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Keywords:

  • environmental policy;
  • advocacy coalition framework (ACF);
  • public policy;
  • agencies;
  • distributive policy;
  • water policy;
  • Animas-La Plata project;
  • Bureau of Reclamation

The purpose of the advocacy coalition framework is to explain policy change over time through an examination of the stability of advocacy coalitions within policy subsystems. Recently, scholars have confirmed that advocacy coalitions are held together by shared belief systems, specifically in distributive policy arenas. We contend that federal agencies, in distributive policy arenas, provide both the anchors and support systems for the development and maintenance of belief systems. This anchoring helps provide adequate resources, access to political institutions, ability to control administrative process, and/or the capacity to deliver public goods and services. We conducted an analysis of the policy changes that occurred during the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act for the construction of the Bureau of Reclamation's Animas-La Plata project. This is an example where administrators, through the management of information, were able to control the policy process. The analysis provides a needed replication of previous findings regarding policy change and offers new insights into how institutions are critical to subsystem stability over time.