Professor Spence discusses prospects of energy reform in the United States. The last wave of energy reform was in the 1970s caused by a widespread perception that the U.S. was running out of natural gas. Environmentalism was at its peak and the result was a large portfolio of legislation to drastically reduce the United States’ dependence on oil and to steer the economy toward cleaner, more efficient energy alternatives and it stimulated a great degree of change. Now, in the early 21st
century, increased dissatisfaction with the status quo has provoked renewed calls for another wave in energy policy reform. Dr. Spence discusses the prospects of energy reform and concludes that organized interests have even more at stake now than they did in the 1970s, and the central issues in the energy policy debate are, technically and politically, more complex now than then. It was easier for voters in 1972 to see how the Clean Water Act would clean up their rivers and lakes than it is for today’s voters to see how the ACES bill will improve their lives. Whereas now, the effects will not be as visible to average citizens, and thus it is a much bigger challenge to bring about a change in energy policy.
The Politics of National Energy Policy Reform (.PDF download)