Barry G. Rabe

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The Durability of Carbon Cap-and-Trade Policy

The surge of American states’ adoption of policies to mitigate climate change in the late 1990s and 2000s appeared to constitute a first wave of expanding use of market-based policy tools such as carbon cap-and-trade in the absence of binding federal constraints. Instead, a substantial number of states have rescinded earlier policy commitments, as have Canadian provincial partners, while others have remained engaged or even expanded their policies. This article examines the durability of the three regional cap-and-trade zones that were established with comparable structure and intent but met very different fates. The analysis of these regional entities places particular emphasis on their political resilience across election cycles, their ability to be flexible and adapt administratively through mid-course adjustments, and their capacity to build constituency support through benefit-allocation to offset opposition linked to cost imposition. Read More…


Taxing Fracking: The Politics of State Severance Taxes in the Shale Era

States producing gas and oil have long levied severance taxes at the point of extraction, commonly placing most revenues into general funds. These taxes have assumed new meaning in many states amid the expansion of gas and oil production accompanying the advent of hydraulic fracturing. We reviewed all major statutes and constitutional amendments related to severance taxes that were enacted at the state level during the first decade of the “shale era” (2005-2014). There have been only modest adjustments in statutory tax rates and some evidence that states have attempted to reduce these rates, possibly in response to growing national production. In turn, there is also evidence that states have begun to pursue more targeted strategies for revenue use, including some expanded focus on responding to the negative externalities linked to drilling, expanded revenue sharing with localities, and increased long-term protection of resources through state trust funds. Read More…


Statehouse and Greenhouse – The Emerging Politics of American Climate Change Policy

Few public policy issues seem as hopeless as global climate change. Mounting evidence shows that accumulating levels of greenhouse gases are already beginning to alter climate patterns, and this only intensifies concerns about long-term dangers. In turn, potential policy remedies appear feckless. Prospects for implementation of the Kyoto Protocol are highly uncertain even among nations that have ratified the accord. At the national level, the United States, which is the leading source of greenhouse gases, remains completely disengaged from the Kyoto process. Increasingly, other developed nations severely criticize the United States for its perceived failure to engage this issue. Read More…