Short Circuiting Policy

by Leah Cardamore Stokes

Book Reviews

  • “Laws are weakened not when they are implemented, not just when they are passed.” @leahstokes on how interest groups get their way in the face of public opinion. Great convo with @ezraklein about Leah’s very important book Short Circuiting Policy to Tweet

About Book

"Short Circuiting Policy examines clean energy policies to understand why US states are not on track to meet the climate crisis. After two decades of leadership, American states are slipping in their commitment to transitioning away from dirty fossil fuels towards cleaner energy sources, including wind and solar. I argue that organized combat between advocate and opponent interest groups is central to explaining why US states have stopped expanding and even started weakening their renewable energy policies. Fossil fuel companies and electric utilities played a key role in spreading climate denial. Now, they have turned to climate delay, working to block clean energy policies from passing or being implemented, and driving retrenchment. Clean energy advocates typically lack sufficient power to overcome electric utilities' opposition to climate policy. Short Circuiting Policy builds on policy feedback theory, showing the conditions under which retrenchment is more likely. Depending on their relative political influence, interest groups will work to drive retrenchment either directly by working with legislators, their staff and regulators; or, indirectly through the parties, the public and the courts. I also argue that policies likely effects are not easy to predict-an effect I term "the fog of enactment." But overtime, federated interest groups can learn to anticipate policies' consequences through networks that cross states-lines. Examining US energy policy over the past century, and Texas, Kansas, Arizona and Ohio's clean energy laws over the past two decades, I show how opponents have thwarted progress on climate policy"--