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Is American Energy Politics Ideological?

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  • Eric M. Uslaner

Abstract

When we think of energy issues, we generally conjure up ideas of conflicts between producers and consumers. These translate into visions of grand ideological conflicts between the left and the right. Wildavsky and Tennenbaum (1981) speak of battles between "preservationists" and "industrialists." Kalt (1981) argues that "[tihe domestic energy 'crisis' is, far more than anything else, a quarrel over income distribution." Ideological straight fights are marked by a single dimension of conflict. In particular, ideological politics, as opposed to religious or eth-nic cleavages, suggests a battle between left and right--or, producers and consumers in the case of energy battles. When there are only two contestants, one is sure to win if the group decision is made by majority rule. Even in the United States Congress, where complex rules often frustrate coherent policy formation, strongly-held positions can prevail over obstructionists if they are determined enough. Yet, during the 1970s many attempts to form a "national energy policy" failed. In the 1980s Congress again stumbled in making natural gas policy as it defeated both decontrol and recontrol proposals.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric M. Uslaner, 1989. "Is American Energy Politics Ideological?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 55-75.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:1989v10-01-a06
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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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