Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 4-28-2017

Major Department or Program

Politics - Environmental Studies


Professor Susanne Beechey; Professor Aaron Bobrow-Strain


How does climate change pose a unique policy problem unlike past environmental protection issues? Although public health and environmental concerns have traditionally been an issue of federal domain, many state governments are now taking the lead in climate change legislation. The level of engagement across the fifty states is diverse—some states are addressing the issue head-on while others are resisting action entirely. No two states have had the same experience enacting policy. As a result, state representatives have very different strategic considerations when negotiating national legislation. It is absolutely crucial that national legislators consider the wide variety of state policy responses to climate change if they hope to come to any kind of consensus around future legislation.This paper will start by examining the “old state paradigm” as understood since the emergence of the environmental movement in the late 1960s, followed by a more recent history of the states’ evolving role in climate policy and the development of the “new state paradigm.” This section will also discuss the assumptions within the “old state paradigm” that are challenged by these new state programs. Second, it will look at the great diversity of state policy developments that have come out of the “new state paradigm” and the unique strategic considerations facing state officials when negotiating national policy. Finally, this paper will attempt to distill lessons from failed national legislation that can guide future policy design.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Climactic changes -- Government policy, States’ rights (American politics), Federal government -- United States, State governments, Environment & policy, Legislation -- National, United Stated -- Environmental Protection Agency, United States -- Congress -- House -- H.R. 2454, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2017 -- Politics-Environmental Studies

Permanent URL

Document Type

Public Accessible Thesis



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