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Title: Responsiveness and Policy Choice in Local Governments: The Case of Municipal Policies Toward Hydraulic Fracturing
Authors: Barnes, Matthew Stephen
Advisors: Achen, Christopher H
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Environmental Policy
Hydraulic Fracturing
Local government
Local politics
Public Opinion and Institutions
Subjects: Political Science
Public policy
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Despite a rich history of research on urban and local politics, we know relatively little about the level of responsiveness of local governments to the preferences of their citizens. This dissertation examines the relationship between policy outcomes in local governments and the views of citizens, focusing on towns in New York State. In New York, over 200 towns passed laws or resolutions addressing hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), a controversial method of oil and gas extraction. I find that responsiveness is more nuanced than presented in the literature; local policies toward hydrofracking tend to reflect the opinions of citizens. Analyses begin with an assessment of public knowledge of and support for hydraulic fracturing. Examining determinants of public support for hydrofracking, I find that partisanship and ideology are the strongest predictors of support, more so than demographics or geographical proximity. Using the findings from this analysis, I construct a measure of each town's level of support for hydrofracking, a key input to be compared to policy outputs. I then assess the dynamics of the policymaking process within two towns, as public and private interests compete to influence policy outcomes. Through an analysis of qualitative data, I find that politicians in two Southern Tier New York towns adopt the policy preferred by the larger and more organized citizen group within the town. However, I also find that one pro-fracking county government, by virtue of its more powerful position relative to towns, dissuaded an anti-fracking town from instituting a moratorium on fracking. Building off the case studies, I examine the responsiveness of hydrofracking policies to mass opinion in all towns that could potentially face natural gas drilling in New York. Controlling for other factors, I find that towns with residents more opposed to natural gas drilling are more likely to prohibit fracking. Furthermore, I find that county governments influence the policymaking process through their position on the issue; towns in anti-fracking counties are more likely to adopt anti-fracking policies. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of responsiveness in local governments, as well as the policy implications of local actions toward hydraulic fracturing.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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