Energy Policy in the U.S.: Politics, Challenges, and Prospects for Change, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Energy Policy in the U.S.

Politics, Challenges, and Prospects for Change, 1st Edition

By Laurance R. Geri, David E. McNabb


328 pages | 29 B/W Illus.

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In an effort to provide greater awareness of the necessary policy decisions facing our elected and appointed officials, Energy Policy in the U.S.: Politics, Challenges, and Prospects for Change presents an overview of important energy policies and the policy process in the United States, including their history, goals, methods of action, and consequences.

In the first half of the book, the authors frame the energy policy issue by reviewing U.S. energy policy history, identifying the policy-making players, and illuminating the costs, benefits, and economic and political realities of currently competing policy alternatives. The book examines the stakeholders and their attempts to influence energy policy and addresses the role of supply and demand on the national commitment to energy conservation and the development of alternative energy sources.

The latter half of the book delves into specific energy policy strategies, including economic and regulatory options, and factors that influence energy policies, such as the importance of international cooperation. Renewed interest in various renewable and nontraditional energy resources—for example, hydrogen, nuclear fusion, biomass, and tide motion—is examined, and policy agendas are explored in view of scientific, economic, regulatory, production, and environmental constraints. This book provides excellent insight into the complex task of creating a comprehensive energy policy and its importance in the continued availability of energy to power our way of life and economy while protecting our environment and national security.

Table of Contents


What Is Energy?

Structure of the Energy Industry

Stakeholders in the Energy Policy Network

What Actions Should We Take?

Purpose for the Book

Why an Energy Policy Is Important


The Political Realities of Energy Policy

Demystifying Energy Policy

An Example: Coal, from Mine to Furnace

Understanding the Scale of Energy

The Function of Energy Policy

Why Does the United States Use so Much Energy?

The U.S. Energy Sector

Energy in Commerce and Industry

Energy and the Consumer

Energy and Agriculture

Conclusion: Energy out of Balance

Energy Policy in Transition

Early Climate Research

Forecasts, Energy, and Creating the Future

Confusion over Peak Oil

Transitioning from Peak Production

Climate Change: Challenges and Policy Goals

The Challenge; the Response

Thinking in Wedges

The Stern Review and Its Aftermath

The Social Cost of Carbon

The Carbon Price Debate

Arcane Issues with Global Ramifications

Conclusion: Climate Implications for Energy Policy

The Art and Science of Crafting Public Policy

Policy Making in Action

The Evolution of U.S. Political Culture

Congress and Its Influence on Policy

Pluralism, Elites, Triangles, and Networks

Shifting Models of Government Power

The System: Weakened, but Still Functioning—for Now

Framing the Energy Policy Issue

Needed: A New Way of Thinking about Policy

The U.S. Policy Space: Today and the Near Tomorrow

Conclusion: A Rough Terrain Ahead

The Long Search for a Sustainable Energy Policy

The History of U.S. Energy Policy since 1945

1945 to 1970: Managing an Energy Surplus

1971 to 1980: Coping with Energy Shortages

1981 to 1990: Deregulating the Industry

1991 to 1999: Calls for a Comprehensive Energy Policy

2000 to 2002: Linking Energy and National Security

2003 to 2007: A Comprehensive Energy Policy Finally Emerges

2008 to 2009: A Renewed Call for Energy Independence

2010 and Beyond: Energy Efficiency, Conservation, and the Environment

Difficulties in Achieving a Balanced Energy Policy

Why Intervene in Energy?

Multiple Stakeholders

Stakeholders in Forming Energy Policy

The Energy Scope Challenge

Widely Different Perspectives

Ambiguous and Conflicting Policy Goals

The Nature of Energy Policy Interventions

Complex and Unwieldy Interventions

Need to Rethink Energy Subsidies

Can We Afford All Planned Energy Programs?

The Innovators: States, Regions, Compacts

Environmental Policy, Energy Policy, and Politics II

Conclusion: A Complex, Interrelated Energy Policy Result

What’s on the Current Energy Policy Agenda?

Climate Change and the U.S. Economy

The Future Role of Nuclear Energy

Concern about Our Reliance on Imported Oil

Issues to Address Immediately

Renewables and Conservation Policy Issues

Tackling the Major Agenda Issues

Access to Federal Lands

Is Carbon Capture and Storage Viable?

Failure to Produce a Global Climate Treaty

What’s on the Periphery of the Energy Agenda?

Conclusion: Sorting out the Energy Agenda


Crafting Policy with Subsidies and Regulations

The Nature of Government Interventions

The Importance of Subsidies

Tax Expenditure Interventions

Problems Financing Renewable Energy Projects

Energy Research and Development

A Major Presidential Theme

The DOE’s Spotty Record of Success

Federal Regulation of the Energy Sector

Appliance Efficiency Standards and Energy Star

Energy Interventions for Households: LIHEAP

Conclusion: The U.S. Energy Policy Blunderbuss

Policies Shaped by Taxes and Market Mechanisms

Federal Energy Fees and Taxes

The Carbon Challenge

Carbon Tax vs. Cap and Trade

Renewable Portfolio Standards

Feed-in Tariffs

Conclusion: Role of Interventions in Energy Policy

International Cooperation on Energy Policy

Global Energy: Sources, Consumption, Inequities

States, Realists, and Idealists

Regimes and Global Environmental and Energy Governance

Global Energy Regimes and Regional Energy Institutions

International Influences on U.S. Energy Policy

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Energy Working Group

North American Energy Working Group

International Energy Forum

Other International Energy Organizations

Global Cooperation on Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Cooperating on Cap and Trade Agreements

Reducing Carbon Emissions: REDD and Carbon Sinks

Evaluating Carbon Offset Programs

The Verdict on Kyoto

The Copenhagen Accord

Challenges to Global Action on Climate

Conclusion: Influences of Global Cooperation on U.S. Energy Policy

Policies for a New Energy Future

The Energy Options Portfolio

Carbon Taxes on Fossil Fuels

The Challenges Facing Policy Makers

Making the Tough Choices

Greenhouse Gas Leakage Problem

What Are Sensible Policy Criteria?

Conclusion: The Recurring Issue of Local Control

Aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill: Prospects for Policy Changes

Policy Failure and the Gulf Oil Spill

Problems Regulating the Energy Industry

Citizen Reaction

Conclusion: Get Started, Get Involved, Be Heard

Appendix A: Chapter Discussion and Review Questions

Appendix B: Timeline of Energy Policy Developments, 1950–2010

Appendix C: Energy-Related Acronyms

Appendix D: Glossary



About the Authors

David E. McNabb is emeritus professor of business administration at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington and former visiting professor at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Latvia.

Laurance R. Geri teaches in the Masters Program in Public Administration (MPA) at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where he was director of the MPA program from 2002 to 2006.

About the Series

Public Administration and Public Policy

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