The Demise of the 2009–2010 Climate Bill and the Implications for Future US Climate Policy

By Michael Lyons.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 24, 2017 $US5.00

This paper explores US congressional resistance to climate change policy. It presents a case study of the 2009–2010 climate bill, which passed narrowly in the US House, only to die as a result of US Senate inaction. The paper employs an analytical framework derived from the writings of US policy scholars such Wilson (1992) and Mayhew (1974), who maintain that the geographical and social distribution of a policy’s costs and benefits will weigh heavily on its prospects for approval by Congress. Noting that one congressional opponent characterized the 2009–2010 climate bill “a declaration of war on the Midwest,” the paper argues that the bill failed largely because the benefits it might have provided were highly diffuse and presently unknowable, while specific regions and industries would have borne a disproportionate share of the costs. The paper concludes that Congress will be more receptive to approaches to climate policy that have precisely the opposite cost/benefit configuration, such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ proposal for a crash program of investment in energy science and technology.

Keywords: United States, Climate Policy, Cap and Trade, Politics, US Congress

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.53-67. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 24, 2017 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 590.589KB)).

Dr. Michael Lyons

Associate Professor, Political Science Department, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA


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