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Fighting Westway: Environmental Law, Citizen Activism, and the Regulatory War That Transformed New York City Paperback – Illustrated, April 4, 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"The Westway was envisioned by many prominent New Yorkers in the 1970s and early 1980s as a massive highway and commercial development along the city's Hudson River shore, generously financed with federal highway funds. But that vision was never fulfilled, for it aroused 14 years of intense opposition from a host of citizen groups, as chronicled here in detail by Buzbee (law, Emory Univ.).... This is an excellent study of how broadly written regulations can engender conflicts over their application to specific projects. It speaks strongly to students of public and environmental law as well as public administration. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections."

-- W. C. Johnson, CHOICE

"Fighting Westway is a fluid historical narrative that offers rich political discernments about a legendary case study of environmental politics. Buzbee's chronological account and legal analysis of the rise and fall of the proposed redevelopment of an interstate along the Lower West Side of Manhattan island is accomplished with an inspirational, firsthand, objective, third-party storyline.... The author, an experienced environmental scholar, is insightful on numerous fronts but is profound when discussing what he refers to as the regulatory war.... Fighting Westway draws on an incredible amount of research from the primary actors in the courtroom battles that ultimately defined Westway’s place in history. The story is a thoroughly detailed look into how regulatory policies function, are challenged, and can be altered. The importance of citizen activism in holding the relevant agencies accountable is great because the intent of environmental laws via citizen-suit provisions is a lesson that needs to be understood by public administrators and politicians."

-- Nicholas Guehlstorf, Law and Politics Book Review

"Just as a military history combines the chronology of each side's moves and blunders, the capabilities of each army's weapons, and the personalities of the generals to explain the outcome of a war, Professor Buzbee weaves the stories of the Westway camps' political tactics, shifts in the doctrines of environmental regulation and citizen access to courts, and the biographies and decisions of individual stakeholders into a comprehensive and definitive history. Part tactical postmortem, part courtroom drama, and part seamy tale of political intrigue (p. 6), Fighting Westway will be of interest to lawyers, environmentalists, and historians alike."

, Harvard Law Review

"Written by a law professorFighting Westway is a carefully researched and clear narrative for a broad audience. For community and environmental activists as well as professionals, it is well worth the read because it vividly illustrates the depth and complexity of the struggle that was needed in order to beat back the giant deal."

-- Tom Angotti, The Indypendent

"Buzbee tells the history of Westway in chronological fashion, detailing each twist in the regulatory road leading to the project's cancellation in 1985. The drama lies not in the outcome but in how a small group of activists managed to defeat much of the New York City and Washington, D.C., political establishment. Buzbee akes a persuasive case that the outcomes of Westway and similar environmental conflicts reflect the complex intermingling of law, politics, and regulatory procedures."

-- David Soll, Journal of American History

"Buzbee provides an excellent explanation of regulatory processes and the limitations of both the CAA and NEPA.... But the real heart of the book is Buzbee's able and compelling explanation of the legal strategy, evidence, and reasoning behind the Westway verdicts.... [The book] is exceptionally well suited to undergraduate courses on environmental law and politics... [and] it will give readers a clear understanding of how regulations work, how government institutions interact, and why it can be so difficult to stop a big project once it is underway."

-- Sarah S. Elkind, Environmental History

"Fighting Westway is a rich and illuminating analysis of an important highway project―as viewed particularly through a regulatory lens.... It will be valuable reading for those interested in the history of environmental policy, highways, neighborhood activism, and the complicated forces affecting cities' ability―or not―to manage their own development."

-- Francesco Russello Ammon, Planning Perspectives


"Finally! The first thorough, truthful account of one of the great environmental battles of the twentieth century! William W. Buzbee captures in rigorous detail the successful fight a group of dedicated citizens waged against the major economic and political powers of the day. Westway was a victory for honesty, principle, and the rule of law. Long live the Clean Water Act and the Hudson River striped bass!"

-- John H. Adams, Founding Director, Natural Resources Defense Council, co-author of A Force for Nature

Product details

  • Item Weight : 15.8 ounces
  • Paperback : 312 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0801479444
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0801479441
  • Product Dimensions : 6.12 x 0.66 x 9.25 inches
  • Publisher : Cornell University Press; Illustrated Edition (April 4, 2014)
  • Reading level : 18 and up
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 5 ratings