CLOSUP Lecture Series
Vivian Thomson will offer an insider’s account of how power is wielded in environmental policy making at the state level. Drawing on her experience as a former member of Virginia’s State Air Pollution Control Board, she narrates cases in Alexandria, Wise, and Roda that involved coal and air pollution. She identifies a “climate of capitulation” —a deeply rooted favoritism toward coal and electric utilities in state air pollution policies. Thomson links Virginia’s climate of capitulation with campaign finance patterns, a state legislature that depends on outsiders for information and bill drafting, and a political culture that tends toward inertia. She extends her analysis to fifteen other coal states and recommends reforms aimed at mitigating ingrained biases toward coal and electric utility interests.