Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Lee Alston

Second Advisor

Robert McNown

Third Advisor

Nicholas Flores


My dissertation focuses on the influence of politics, policies, and markets in determining oil and natural gas and wind energy development. In the first chapter, I examine the role of federal elected political influence and market factors in determining the acres of oil and natural gas leases issued on Bureau of Management (BLM) lands in the western United States between 1978 and 2008. I seek to determine if the political party and ideology of the federal political environment influence the number of acres that are leased and if there is disparate federal political influence in states that have a large amount of federal lands. Using a random effects Tobit model for a 17-state sample of the westernmost states in the contiguous United States, I find that more conservative federal political influence leads to additional leasing. The results are consistent across Senate committee leaders, Senate majority leadership, and the President’s office. The further found that the influence of politics on leasing is not stronger in states with more federal lands.

In the second chapter, I analyze the influence of state and federal political party changes and market factors on state oil and natural gas permitting. My findings, using a first-differenced empirical model for two samples, a 19-state sample, from 1990-2007, and a 14-state sample, from 1977-2007, indicate that the influence of state political party changes are trumped by economic factors. Oil and gas prices are the main drivers of permitting changes, while the state political party changes for the state legislatures and Governor’s office are consistently not significant.

In the third chapter I focus on the role of electricity markets and renewable energy regulation in wind development across the United States. My findings, using a random effects Tobit model with a 25-state sample, from 1994-2008, indicate that the implementation of state Renewables Portfolio Standards (RPS), the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), and Green Power Purchase Programs (GPP) positively influence a state’s wind capacity. The influence of green power purchase programs continues to increase in the years after implementation, while for RPS it diminishes. The role of market factors is less significant.