"It Happened Behind Closed Doors:" Legislative Buffering as an Informal Mechanism of Political Mediation

In Mobilization: An International Quarterly, Volume 24, Issue 3

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The political mediation model explains movement policy outcomes ranging from complete failure to total success. However, the qualitative mechanisms through which political mediation occurs empirically remain understudied, especially as they relate to the content-specifying stages of the legislative process. Furthermore, while we know that political mediation is context-dependent, key elements of what political context entails remain underspecified. This article addresses these gaps by tracing the influence of a coalition of social movement organizations (SMOs) seeking to simultaneously shape the content of two major climate bills in a progressive U.S. state where the climate movement enjoys a relatively favorable political context overall. Comparing the divergent trajectories and outcomes of the two bills illuminates the process of legislative buffering, which is conceptualized as an informal mechanism of political mediation. The comparative analysis also reveals situational elements of political context that can present additional hurdles movements must overcome to maximize their success.

California Cap-and-Trade: History, Design, Effectiveness

Forthcoming (2020) in Contesting Carbon, William G. Holt (editor). Routledge.

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In this chapter, I discuss the political history of the nation's most comprehensive cap-and-trade program, a regulatory effort of the California Air Resources Board, which was authorized by AB 32, the state's landmark greenhouse gas emissions reduction law. After discussing the unusual political circumstances in which the Program came about, I delve into its complex design and also provide a preliminary analysis of its effectiveness.

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