In 1999, Texas passed a landmark clean energy law, beginning a groundswell of new policies that promised to make the United States a world leader in renewable energy. However, that policy did not lead to momentum in Texas, which failed to implement its solar laws or clean up its electricity system. In this lecture, Stokes discusses how organized combat between advocate and opponent interest groups is central to explaining why states are not on track to address the climate crisis.
She will delve into the political history of our energy institutions, explaining how fossil fuel companies and electric utilities have promoted climate denial and delay. Evidence for this research is found in her new forthcoming book, Short Circuiting Policy: Interest Groups and the Battle Over Clean Energy and Climate Policy in the American States, which offers a bold new argument about how the policy process works and why seeming victories can turn into losses when the opposition has enough resources to rollback laws.
About the Speaker
Leah Cardamore Stokes is a Kleinman Center Visiting Scholar. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and affiliated with the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Stokes works on energy, climate, and environmental politics. Within American politics, her work focuses on representation and public opinion, voting behavior, and public policy—particularly at the state level. Within environmental politics, she researches climate change, renewable energy, water, and chemicals policy. Her research has been published in top journals including the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Nature Energy, Energy Policy, and Environmental Science & Technology. She has also published articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, CNN, and elsewhere and is frequently quoted in the national media.
Stokes completed her Ph.D. in public policy in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning’s Environmental Policy & Planning group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She also received a masters from MIT's Political Science Department. Before that, she completed an M.P.A. in Environmental Science & Policy at the School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Stokes also has a B.Sc. in psychology and East Asian studies from the University of Toronto. Prior to academia, she worked at the Parliament of Canada and Resources for the Future.