The 2008-2010 campaign to pass climate legislation was one of the largest efforts in the history of energy and environmental politics. Yet despite initial legislative success in the House of Representatives in early 2009 and the strong forces arrayed in support of a climate bill, the Senate dropped the issue from consideration in the summer of 2010. Such a high profile defeat might be expected to attract substantial academic attention. However, nearly three years out little analysis has been forthcoming.
This paper addresses that gap in current scholarship, seeking to both inform academic understanding of climate politics and provide insights to practitioners and policymakers. The analysis is structured into two main sections. The first section examines four key barriers that protected the policy status quo: partisan polarization, political geography, energy interests and the recession. Through comparison with the Affordable Care Act and the history of U.S. environmental policymaking, the second section suggests three political forces that might have helped strength the climate campaign: public opinion, grassroots mobilization and presidential leadership. It further suggests that the failures of the climate campaign to pay sufficient attention to opinion and mobilization are symptomatic of broader challenges facing an increasingly professionalized and Washington-based environmental movement.
The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments stipulated gasoline content requirements for metropolitan areas with air pollution levels above predetermined federal thresholds. The legislation led to exogenous changes in the type of gasoline required for sale across US metropolitan areas. This paper uses a panel of detailed wholesale gasoline price data to estimate the effect of gasoline content regulation on wholesale prices and price volatility. We investigate the extent to which the estimated price effects are driven by changes in the number of suppliers versus geographic segmentation resulting from regulation. We find that prices in regulated metropolitan areas increase significantly, relative to a control group, by an average of 3 cents/gal. The price effect, however, varies by 8 cents/gal across regulated markets and the heterogeneity across markets is correlated with the degree of geographic isolation generated by the discontinuous regulatory requirements.
This paper examines empirically the relationship between vertical integration and wholesale gasoline prices. We use discrete and differential changes in the extent of vertical integration generated by mergers in West Coast gasoline refining and retailing markets to test for incentives to raise rivals’ costs.The research design allows us to test for a relationship between vertical integration and wholesale prices, controlling for horizontal market structure, cost shocks and trends. We find evidence consistent with the strategic incentive to raise competitors’ input costs. This suggests that vertical integration can have a significant impact on wholesale prices.