Electric utilities and American climate policy: Lobbying by expected winners and losers

Sung Eun Kim, Johannes Urpelainen, Joonseok Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


When and why do individual companies lobby on environmental policies? Given the structural strength of business interests, the answer to this question is important for explaining policy. However, evidence on the strategic lobbying behaviour of individual companies remains scarce. We use data from lobbying disclosure reports on all major climate bills introduced during the 111th Congress (2009-2010). We then link the lobbying disclosure reports to detailed data on the fuel choices of all electric utilities in the United States along with socioeconomic, institutional and political data from the states where the utilities operate. The expected winners (renewable energy, natural gas users) from climate policy are much more likely to lobby individually on federal legislation than the expected losers (coal users). We find that expected winners lobby for specific provisions and rents as a private good, whereas expected losers concentrate their efforts on collective action through trade associations and committees to prevent climate legislation. The results suggest that the supporters of climate policy believed the probability of federal climate legislation to be nontrivial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-275
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Public Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1
Externally publishedYes


  • American politics
  • climate policy
  • energy
  • environmental politics
  • lobbying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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