My research is primarily concentrated in four areas: state environmental regulation, public attitudes about energy and the environment, and environmental justice.
State Environmental Regulation.
Much of my research focuses on how federalism shapes U.S. state environmental politics and policy. Most U.S. federal pollution control programs are based on a model of regulatory federalism, in which the federal government has primary responsibility to set national standards, while states have the authority to implement and enforce these standards within their borders. This decentralized regime of environmental protection provides states with extraordinary discretion to determine their preferred level of enforcement of important federal pollution control programs such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. My work leverages this variation in state regulatory behavior to understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of regulatory enforcement, with a focus on understanding and estimating the effects of the political, economic, geographical, and contextual factors that drive state enforcement decisions.
Public Attitudes about Energy and the Environment.
I am working on several projects that examine public attitudes toward various energy and environmental issues. This work addresses both salient public policy issues and important theoretical questions in the public opinion literature. My research in this area seeks to understand how Americans prioritize environmental issues, what they expect of government in terms of addressing problems, and how Americans perceive energy options and climate change policy solutions.
Environmental justice issues emerged on the public agenda beginning in the 1980s, spawning a new social movement that aligned the civil rights and environmental advocacy community, and leading to a multitude of policy initiatives at all levels of government. To date, nearly all of the empirical work in the vast environmental justice literature has focused on either race or class-based disparities in the location of polluting facilities or exposure to pollution. My work examines a third type of disparity: inequities in enforcement of environmental policies. This is an important area for research because environmental justice advocates have long argued that government is unequal in its enforcement of public health and environmental laws.
U.S. Energy Transition and Vulnerable Communities.
I have recently begun working on a new project that aims to study how the U.S. energy transition is affecting vulnerable communities. Specifically, the project seeks to understand which communities are (and will be in the future) negatively affected by the energy and climate policies that are being put in place to decarbonize the economy, and how these communities can effectively adapt in response.