Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

Steven Vanderheiden

Second Advisor

E. Scott Adler

Third Advisor

Deserai Crow


This study explores how special interest spending from the oil and gas industry affects the adoption of Renewable Portfolio Standards. These energy policies have been adopted in 29 states across the US, making them a popular policy choice for promoting renewable energy development. I created a hazard model including both spending variables as well as political and energy potential variables to see if oil and gas industry spending would influence the adoption of these renewable portfolio standards between 1998 and 2010. The model showed no effect on adoption rates due to oil and gas industry spending, but rather significant effects came from the party of the state legislature, and how much wind energy potential was in the state. While measuring direct effects of campaign spending is always difficult, in this case it was clear that direct industry spending on gubernatorial races did not have an effect on adoption, but that doesn’t rule out other methods of spending on the issue of renewable portfolio standards.