Class capacities and climate politics: Coal and conflict in the United States energy policy-planning network

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This article employs a power structure research approach and exploratory network analysis to describe the differing stances on climate action that existed within the United States elite energy policy-planning network during efforts to generate climate legislation in 2009. These divisions are explored in relation to the structural location of the coal industry, other energy sectors, and environmental organizations within the network of director interlocks. My key findings are that coal interests are well integrated into the policy-planning network with major coal producers and reserve holders most connected to ultra-conservative business policy groups and industry associations committed to climate denial while a “coal coalition” of coal-related interests provide linkages to influential moderate conservative groups and industry associations taking a conciliatory stance on climate action. The largest oil and gas firms vary more than the coal industry in their affiliations. In general, policy groups that support climate action are on average significantly less central within the overall EPPN compared to those that do not. I discuss the implications of these findings for understanding the boundaries of United States and global climate policy formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-165
Number of pages15
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Feb 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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