Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Political Science and Economics, PhD interfield


School of Politics and Economics

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Michael M. Uhlmann

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jean R. Schroedel

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Sallama Shaker

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2012 Mark Chapin Johnson


From 1978 on there have been a series of legislative acts that have placed substantial protectionist burdens on the American taxpayer to provide incentives, credits and mandates for the production and use of ethanol under the rationale of reducing U.S. dependence on foreign sources of oil while purporting to economically benefit the American economy and strengthening American security. While there has been much discussion about the economic benefits of ethanol policy, there is growing literature suggesting that in addition to being neither economically nor environmentally beneficial, ethanol policy may not be achieving its intended goals. Connection between political contributions, policy formation, and the actual outcomes of the enacted policies does not appear to have been addressed. Throughout the course of ethanol policy development the narrow interests of some stakeholders may have been met at the expense of others. Given the very large economic and social costs of ongoing ethanol subsidies and mandates an exploration of such a nexus would be illuminating and valuable.

Hence the question of this research will be:

Has the ethanol energy policy of the United States, as outlined in legislative actions, requiring subsidies and mandates from taxpayers, been reflective of a deliberative democratic process that after taking into account the input and influence of various competing viewpoints has resulted in a beneficial national policy? Consequently have the policy outcomes of the legislative stakeholders matched the stated intentions of those involved in the deliberative debate that enacted it or, where have those objectives not been met?

Research that can increase understanding of how such an important policy may have failed can inform policy deliberation in such diverse areas as agriculture, national security and energy policy while illuminating how and why such public policy was made. Examination of a policy created and continuing which may have failed the most basic cost benefit analysis and does very little to enhance national energy security could demonstrate how a distortion of the legislative process resulted in outcomes that differ markedly from the stated intentions of those who enacted the policy.