12 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 521 (1988)
Citizen Partcipation and Administrative Discretion in the Cleanup of Naragansett Bay

handle is hein.journals/helr12 and id is 527 raw text is: CITIZEN PARTICIPATION AND ADMINISTRATIVE
DISCRETION IN THE CLEANUP OF
NARRAGANSETT BAY
Kim Herman Goslant*
A central premise in much of the recent discussions on citizen
movements is that the American political process is animated by
conflicting notions of legitimacy. On the one hand, there is rec-
ognition that the demands of time and technical competence have
made it increasingly difficult for ordinary citizens to participate
effectively in government policy-making.1 Accordingly, many gov-
ernment tasks have been delegated to scientifically or technically
trained experts, and the judgments of these experts are seen as
legitimate when based on professional, as opposed to political or
personal, considerations.2 On the other hand, there are deeply
held beliefs that the wielders of government power must be held
accountable to the public, that government actions are legitimate
when based upon the consent of the governed.3 One of the means
of expressing public consent, and of ensuring that government
institutions remain responsive to community interests, is through
the direct and active participation of citizens in public affairs.4
* B.A. 1978, Bates College; M.A. 1982, Columbia University; J.D. 1988, Harvard
Law School. An earlier draft of this article was prepared for the seminar on Boston Harbor
held at Harvard Law School in the spring of 1987 and was submitted in fulfillment of the
law school's third-year written work requirement. The author extends special thanks to his
wife, Carol Mack Goslant, for her encouragement and support while this article was being
written.
1. L. CALDWELL, L. HAYES, & I. MACWHIRTER, CITIZENS AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
CASE STUDIES IN POPULAR ACTION XV, xxviii (1976); Stewart, Paradoxes of Liberty,
Integrity and Fraternity: The Collective Nature of Environmental Quality and Judicial
Review of Administrative Action, 7 ENVT'L L. 463, 471 (1977).
2. Rein, Social Planning-The Search for Legitimacy, 35 J. AM. INST. PLANNERS
233, 233-34, 235-36 (1969); cf. B. GINSBERG, THE CAPTIVE PUBLIC: HOW MASS OPINION
PROMOTES STATE POWER 118-19 (1986) (discussing the class bias in preferring expertise
over political patronage in filling civil service positions).
3. See generally G. MCCONNELL, PRIVATE POWER AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY 91-
118 (1966) (discussion of the role of constituencies in the American political system).
4. Hart, Theories of Government Related to Decentralization and Citizen Partici-
pation, 32 PUB. ADMIN. REV. 603,609-10 (1972); L. LAKE, ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION:
THE POLITICAL EFFECTS OF IMPLEMENTATION 67 (1982). It may go without saying that
the conflict between professional discretion and political accountability is hardly the only
significant tension in the American political system. A somewhat different characterization
of this system is in terms of the conflict between participatory democracy (i.e., direct

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