Business battles in the US energy sector: Lessons for a cleaner world

natural gas pipes

Project leader(s)

If the world is to achieve a clean energy revolution the role of the US will be crucial. Not only does the US have enormous global influence, but it is also the largest producer of oil and gas with the largest reserves of coal on the planet. However, it is hard to imagine an energy revolution in the US taking place without the support of business. After all, if policymakers in the US are to succeed in their attempts to regulate energy and limit greenhouse gas emissions they will not only need to overcome the resistance of incumbent industries that have generated great wealth from burning fossil fuels, but they will also need to build and expand support among renewable energy industries, such as solar power.

In this context, it is important to understand business behaviour. Yet while various studies have examined the role of business actors across a range of environmental issues including climate change, biodiversity and ozone, energy has largely remained an outlier. Very little work has focussed exclusively on business actors in the energy sector, including in the US. And few studies, if any, have examined the behaviour of business actors in individual energy-centric industries, namely the oil, gas, coal, utility and renewable industries. This project seeks to redress this gap. It asks two central questions: (i) how and why are business actors shaping energy policy contests in the US? And (ii) what are the implications for policymakers? To answer these questions this project examines the role of business actors in the oil and gas industries, coal industry, utility industry and renewable industries across six contemporary policy contests that have taken place during the Obama administration (2009-2016).

Image: Associate Professor Christian Downie (RegNet)

Dr Christian Downie

Christian Downie is an Associate Professor in the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University. He holds an Australian Research Council DECRA...

Climate, energy & the environment cluster

Climate, energy and the environment

This cluster has four broad regulatory and governance research themes: identifying obstacles and options for effective energy governance; analysing state and private governance mechanisms for mitigating climate change; examining the opportunities and constraints of the green economy in transforming infrastructure and urban development; and exploring creative regulatory solutions to transnational environmental problems.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet