Past and Present
Environmental Policy in the Doldrums: The Climate (of) Deadlock in the U.S. Congress
The United States is one of a few countries primarily blamed for a stalemate regarding strong international action against climate change. The U.S. Congress has been deadlocked on the environment at least since 2010. American voters are also divided; their positions on climate change are linked to their political leanings. Yet the division along party lines in Congress is much more prominent than the polarization of the general public evidenced by opinion polls. Moreover, the partisan division on climate is linked more to federal politics than to issues at the state level, where compromise on climate is often possible despite different party affiliations. Interestingly, as U.S. politics is facing a growing partisan divide in general, the climate and especially climate change have become one of its main ideological battlegrounds. What causes such divisions and is there a possibility for decreasing the partisan divide on the environment at the federal level? Lobbying seems to be the most logical explanation, but it by no means accounts for the rapid onset of partisan deadlock over the issue. Finally, why is it that the impasse over the climate is only limited to the federal level and compromise in individual states is still possible? In this article, I will demonstrate that the reason behind the partisan division over the climate in the U.S. Congress is a combination of factors, which include the economic crisis of 2008 as well as polarization of media in the U.S. and the influence of the Tea Party over...
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