Unpacking the intensity of policy conflict: a study of Colorado’s oil and gas subsystem
This article applies the Policy Conflict Framework (PCF) to describe and explain the characteristics of policy conflict within the oil and gas subsystem in Colorado. We use data from a survey of policy actors to assess three cognitive characteristics of policy conflict: divergence in policy positions, perceived threats from opponents’ positions, and an unwillingness to compromise. Aggregating these indicators across policy actors in the subsystem, we find a moderately high level of policy conflict intensity, but we also find substantial variation in the characteristics of policy conflict across policy actors. To help explain this variation, we examine how interpersonal and intrapersonal attributes of policy actors relate to the characteristics of policy conflict. In particular, we find that insular policy actor networks, interest group affiliations, and rigidity of risk and benefit perceptions associate more consistently with conflict characteristics than political views, education, or experience. We conclude with a discussion of the strengths and limitations of this first application of the PCF and reiterate the need for theoretically and empirically rigorous measures of policy conflict.
KeywordsPolicy conflict Oil and gas development Hydraulic fracturing Policy process Policy theory
This research was supported by the AirWaterGas Sustainability Research Network funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CBET-1,240,584. Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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