Why do disasters sometimes lead to the creation of innovative, new policy frameworks? People often assume that this happens because disasters cause people to understand environmental problems in new ways. However, this case study of changes in Louisiana’s coastal land management policy after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 tells a different story. After the hurricanes, state and federal legislators passed several laws that created a framework for comprehensive coastal restoration, replacing the haphazard and poorly funded approach that preceded the storms. This policy innovation occurred because the hurricanes created an opportunity to enact ideas developed by a coalition of coastal scientists, environmental attorneys, and local businesspeople during the previous three decades. Without the long-term work of this advocacy coalition, policy innovation would probably not have occurred. The case study presents the history of coastal restoration policy in Louisiana and explains how this history illustrates models of policy agenda setting from political science and environmental problems construction from sociology. In turn, these models provide a key to interpreting other examples of post-disaster policy change.

You do not currently have access to this content.