Alternative Energy: Political, Economic, and Social Feasibility.

AuthorDahl, Carol A.
PositionAlternative Energy: Political, Economic, and Social Feasibility, 2d ed

Alternative Energy: Political, Economic, and Social Feasibility, second edition by Christopher A. Simon (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020). 256 pages, ISBN: 978-1-5381-1636-4 (hardback). ISBN: 978-1-5381-1637-1 (paperback), ISBN: 978-1-5381-1638-8 (ebook)

Much has changed since the author, who is a Political Science Professor at the University of Utah, wrote the first edition of this book in 2007. Emerging markets, most notably China and India, have continued to emerge. The shale oil and gas revolutions in the U.S. have changed the geological and geopolitical landscape somewhat and have moved near term worries of fossil fuel security onto the back burner. Despite Donald Trump's protestations to the contrary, a U.S. consensus finally seems to be building that climate changes from anthropomorphic emissions of greenhouse gases (dominated by fossil fuel based carbon dioxide) are real, are here, and are now. Costs for solar and wind energy have fallen dramatically. These changes have put alternative energy (here defined as renewables and zero carbon emitting sources) in a much more favorable light. The author lays out some of these changes in his introductory chapter, notes cultural shifts towards more green politics, and summarizes key U.S. legislation relating to alternative fuels since 1973.

Economists, who focus on the efficiency of policies, should find the next two chapters, which focus on making public policy happen, of interest. For infeasible policy is of no use. He outlines the steps in the policy process--setting an agenda, forming the policy, implementation, evaluation, and changing or ending policy. How the process evolves likely depends on such overlapping cycles as election, public attention, budget, and economic. He continues with some description of policy types: distributive, constituent, regulative, and redistributive categorized by the likelihood implementation will require coercion, whether the policy is focused on shaping individual behavior or providing an environment that facilitates policy implementations and whether the policy is partisan or based on specific special interest groups. Policies can come from state and local governments (bottom up), from the Federal government (top down), or from a collaboration of governments at more than one level. Bottom up policy, supported by Bill Clinton, has the advantage of allowing small scale innovative experimentation at the state and local level. The more successful can then be...

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