61 U. Colo. L. Rev. 355 (1990)
Dominant Model of United States Energy Policy, The; Tomain, Joseph P.

handle is hein.journals/ucollr61 and id is 365 raw text is: THE DOMINANT MODEL OF UNITED STATES
ENERGY POLICY*
JOSEPH P. ToMAIN**
Conventional wisdom has it that the United States has no coher-
ent and comprehensive national energy policy.' This notion persists
despite the fact that Congress requires the President to submit to it,
biannually, a national energy plan.2 Like all catechisms, this belief is
partially true and partially false, depending upon one's perspective.
The better statement about U.S. energy policy is that it is kaleido-
scopic. If one concentrates on one portion of a kaleidoscope, shapes,
colors and images appear chaotic. So, too, does energy policy if one
examines only one segment of the policymaking process, as does an
analyst who concentrates on Congressional action, for example.3
However, as one pulls back and looks at the full kaleidoscopic screen,
patterns emerge. The theme of this article is that, at a certain level of
generality, the United States has developed over the last one hundred
years an identifiable pattern of energy decisionmaking and energy pol-
icy. This pattern forms what can be properly termed the Dominant
Model of United States Energy Policy.4
Section One of this article presents a brief discussion of the histor-
ical development of the energy industry in the United States and na-
tional energy policy. This discussion demonstrates that over the last
100 years, the United States government has fairly consistently imple-
mented energy policies that are guided by efficiency, that support the
market, and that seek to correct market defects. Section Two explains
in depth the dominant model that emerges from Section One. It be-
gins by examining the unsuccessful attempts by the Carter and Reagan
* This article is a synthesis of current works. Energy Policy Advice for the New Administration,
46 WASH. & LEE L. REV. 63 (1989); Interest, Ideology and Imagination, 5 J. MIN. L. & POL. 115
(1989); J. TOMAIN & J. HICKEY, ENERGY LAW & POLICY (1989).
** Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati. J.D. George Washington University Law Center;
B.A. University of Notre Dame.
1. See, e.g., J. CHUBB, INTEREST GROUPS AND THE BUREAUCRACY: THE POLITICS OF ENERGY,
chs. I & 7 (1983); B. COMMONER, THE POLITICS OF ENERGY (1979); D. DAVIS, ENERGY POLITICS
(1974); W. ROSENBAUM, ENERGY, POLITICS, AND PUBLIC POLICY (1981); Tomain, Institutionalized
Conflicts Between Law and Policy, 22 HOUSTON L. REV. 661 (1985).
2. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7375 (1982).
3. See E. USLANER, SHALE BARREL POLITICS: ENERGY AND LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP (1989).
4. I use the term model as an heuristic device rather than as an analytical tool with predictive
power. This model more successfully explains past and current trends than foretells the future.

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