Climate change is a problem of global scope. Despite this, in American politics, state governments have led the way in adopting policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to renewable sources of energy. Yet, even as some states have become climate policy leaders, other states have stagnated or retrenched, in large part due to the unfavorable interest group politics. Incumbent fossil fuel interests continue to wield considerable political power relative to environmental groups and emerging clean energy interests. Recent literature has highlighted the fundamental role of interest groups in driving climate and clean energy policy decisions, particularly at lower levels of government. Yet, at the same time as scholarship has highlighted the importance of interest groups, we have accumulated little systematic empirical evidence on the landscape of organized interests involved in climate and clean energy in state politics. This project will provide important new insight on the interest groups both promoting and opposing climate and clean energy policies in the U.S. states.
To do so, we will collect and curate new data ranging from broad, quantitative data sets to focused, qualitative investigations. Quantitatively, as discussed below, we will, first, to curate new data mapping the landscape of environmental and clean energy groups active lobbying at the state level. Second, for three states with particularly rich lobbying data, we will curate data on the organized interests that lobby on climate and clean energy bills introduced since 2000—along with the outcome of those legislative processes. Third, and more qualitatively, we will investigate the implications for climate and clean energy policies in six states where the Democratic party won full control of government in 2018, paying particular attention to the role of organized interests.
We aim to collect these new data over the course of the 2021-2022 academic year. The assistance of a undergraduate research assistants through the SPUR program will be critical for us to collect these data.
Students may take on a number of different roles. These will include bolstering existing data sets by coding aspects of interest groups lobbying state governments; collecting and curating information on climate and clean energy bills introduced in the states and the interest groups lobbying on those bills; and assisting with case studies exploring efforts to pass new climate and clean energy policies following Democratic victories in 2018 state-level elections.
We are looking for undergraduates with some experience working with quantitative data (either coursework or employment), and also undergraduates with some familiarity with climate and clean energy politics and policy in the U.S. That said, curiosity and willingness to learn is the most essential. Please indicate on your cover letter how many hours you are hoping to devote to the project.