Chapter Overview

Extensive policy innovation in pursuit of a sustainable future in an age of global climate change and pending shortages of critical natural resources will be a necessity in the coming decades. State and local government, just as much as the federal government, will have to rise to the challenges to be faced in addressing the three "Es" of sustainability: promotion of economic vitality, protection of the environment, and promotion of social equity. This chapter documents how innovation at the state and local government level have often led the way for national movements addressing the difficult transitions made by Americans from an agricultural society to an industrial society, and finally from an industrial society to a postindustrial society. American federalism, the flexibility of state constitutional processes, and the wellsprings of social capital in communities throughout the country have in combination given rise to considerable innovation in public policy and in governance practices.

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