Pipelines of Influence: The Fossil Fuels Industry, Climate Change, and the Policy Planning Network
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This dissertation analyzes the case of organized climate change denial in the United States as a manifestation of the power of the policy planning and opinion shaping networks in the US. It uses a variety of power structure research techniques to put together a topographical study of a fossil fuels network sitting at the core of a wider conservative network which sits at the core of the policy planning and opinion shaping processes. The connections between the core fossil fuels network and wider conservative policy network are examined at length. Using climate change denial as the case allows for the study of how a distinct industry— fossil fuels—can organize a faction which can help set the ideological agenda of the wider corporate and conservative networks. A power elite theoretical approach outlined by Domhoff is used, and the conclusions that may be drawn from this case study support the usefulness of that approach. I also find that the case at hand illustrates how Domhoff’s model may be extended and augmented in light of the strategic and tactical innovations employed by those in the climate change denial faction. Although elites have often tried—with varying levels of success—to employ at least a veneer of populist support in formulating policy, climate change denial employs a new level of sophistication in then fossil fuels’ faction’s long-term strategic planning and investment. This faction’s ability to wrest ideological control of much of the tea party movement and bring that party's policy aims into lie with its own allowed for the addition of a powerful populist element to the climate change denial tactical repertoire. Similarly, new secrecy techniques go far beyond those used by elites in the past, reflecting a new set of needs on the part of the individuals and groups involved in the policy network and necessitating the augmentation of the existing network with specialized entities.