Policy Framing, Learning, and Change After Crisis: Lessons from the Texas blackout

Varun Rai and I wanted to understand how policy changed (and didn’t) after Winter Storm Uri shut Texas down in February 2021. Here is the abstract for that paper, which we are preparing for submission to an energy policy-focused journal.

As extreme weather events continue to cause policy crises, energy policy scholars have an opportunity not only to analyze policies as they are enacted, but to shape the process that produces those policies. In this article, we introduce three of the most widely applied theories of the policy process: punctuated equilibrium theory, the advocacy coalitions framework, and the narrative policy framework. We then use each, along with an “electoral self-interest” lens, to analyze the policy responses to Winter Storm Uri, which caused nearly state-wide blackouts in Texas in 2021. 

We argue that the post-crisis policy process is most usefully understood as comprising five distinct stages, and that in each of these stages a different theory of the policy process is a more accurate map of how policymakers behave. We identify which theories are useful at each stage, then identify where and how energy policy scholars and other advocates can intervene in the policy process in order to shape energy policy change in the wake of future crises.

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