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Crude Politics

The California Oil Market, 1900-1940

Paul Sabin (Author)

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Hardcover, 327 pages
ISBN: 9780520241985
December 2004
$52.95, £36.95
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Energy shortages, climate change, and the debate over national security have thrust oil policy to the forefront of American politics. How did Americans grow so dependent on petroleum, and what can we learn from our history that will help us craft successful policies for the future? In this timely and absorbing book, Paul Sabin challenges us to see politics and law as crucial forces behind the dramatic growth of the U.S. oil market during the twentieth century. Using pre–World War II California as a case study of oil production and consumption, Sabin demonstrates how struggles in the legislature and courts over property rights, regulatory law, and public investment determined the shape of the state's petroleum landscape.

Sabin provides a powerful corrective to the enduring myth of "free markets" by demonstrating how political decisions affected the institutions that underlie California's oil economy and how the oil market and price structure depend significantly on the ways in which policy questions were answered before World War II. His concise and probing analysis casts fresh light on the historical relationship between business and government and on the origins of contemporary problems such as climate change and urban sprawl. Incisive, engaging, and meticulously researched, Crude Politics illuminates an important chapter in U.S. environmental, legal, business, and political history and the history of the American West.
List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Structuring the Oil Market
PART ONE — Federal Property
1. The End of the Old Property Regime
2. The Politics of the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act
PART TWO — State Property
3. Beaches versus Oil in Southern California
4. "The Same Unsavory Smell of Teapot Dome"
PART THREE — Regulation
5. The Struggle to Control California Oil Production
6. Federalism and the Unruly California Oil Market
PART FOUR — Consumption
7. "Transportation by Taxation"
8. Defending the User-Financing System
Conclusion: The Politics of Petroleum Prices
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Paul Sabin is a senior research scholar at Yale Law School and executive director of the nonprofit Environmental Leadership Program. He has taught U. S. economic and environmental history at Yale University and the Harvard Business School.
"Paul Sabin has written a brilliant case study of how legal and political choices construct 'free markets'. He shows how battles over property rights, regulation, taxes, and highway and environmental policy shaped the oil market and with it the future of California's cities, roads, coastline and public finance. Clear-headed, meticulous, and filled with the drama of momentous conflicts between public and private interests, Crude Politics is legal-economic history at its best."—Robert W. Gordon, Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and Legal History, Yale University

"Paul Sabinís lucid analysis of how the oil industry and the auto industry shaped California’s environment is a wonderful blending of political economy and environmental history. Sabin convincingly demonstrates how the market for oil, like all modern markets, was a political creation whose ramifying and surprising effects from freeways and pollution to state parks and public access to beaches are all too often unrecognized."—Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University

"To a much greater degree than most Americans usually appreciate, the central story of the past century was the story of oil. Paul Sabin's Crude Politics is a pioneering effort to trace for a single key state—California—the evolving web of relationships needed to sustain the production, distribution, and consumption of a critical resource on which virtually every aspect of modern life now depends. As we contemplate the waning future of that resource in the twenty-first century, we would do well to heed the insights about its twentieth-century past offered by this important book."—William Cronon, author of Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

"Getting energy prices right is key to addressing our global climate crisis. With graceful prose and forceful argument, Paul Sabin shows how petroleum prices today are a product of more than a century of fierce political struggle over oil supply and demand. Anyone who wants to understand the political and economic factors that have created our present dependence on cheap oil should read this book."—James Gustave Speth, author of Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment
Introduction

Structuring the Oil Market

California's landscape and culture today depend on petroleum. Millions of gasoline-powered cars and trucks daily roar along eight- to ten-lane highways. Gasoline-powered tractors plow agricultural lands, and petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers protect lucrative crops. Highways and automobiles link California's cities with world-renowned park and recreation sites, ranging from lush, towering Yosemite National Park in the north to the roller coasters and fantasy attractions of Disneyland in the south.

When Californians cruise the Pacific Coast Highway, pull on nylon stockings, or savor a strawberry, they reap the benefits of petroleum. Stuck in traffic, breathing polluted air, or struggling with pesticide contamination and oil spills, they confront the oil economy's darker side.

Close ties to oil similarly bind other states. Houston and Atlanta residents rely as heavily on their cars as do Los Angelenos. Oil spills have hit Alaska and the Atlantic coastline; community activists struggle against refinery pollution in New Jersey and Louisiana; and recreational skiers and hikers drive to the mountains of New England and Colorado. The economies of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Alaska depend heavily on petroleum production, and Michigan relies equally on the automobile industry. California, as both a major producer and consumer of oil, thus offers a case history for the impact of oil on individual states and a microcosm of its penetration of the United States as a whole.

How did California, and the United States more generally, become so wedded to petroleum? The fuel's versatility and its natural abundance are certainly key factors. Petroleum is fluid, combustible, and an excellent source of hydrocarbons for petrochemical innovation. Technological advances by scientists and engineers have enabled private industry to extract oil miles beneath the ocean, to increase the energy drawn from each barrel of oil, and to devise thousands of ways to use petroleum's valuable hydrocarbons. But most of all, oil is a relatively inexpensive way to make things go. The question we have rarely thought to ask is, why is oil so cheap?

Generations of historians have viewed the United States' abundant natural resources as a key contributor to its prosperity and democratic institutions. In the 1890s, Frederick Jackson Turner credited "free land"; in the 1950s, David Potter described how a "people of plenty" built American democracy on a foundation of abundance; and in the 1990s, Gavin Wright used the nation's natural resource base to explain the "origins of American industrial advantage."1 Plentiful and well-situated agricultural land, fish, furs, forests, coal, and gold all have been seen as essential to our development. At first blush, the United States' petroleum history appears to fit this story line. At different moments in the past 150 years, oil gushers around the country, from Pennsylvania to Alaska, have flooded the market with oil. Observing the 1920s California oil craze, the economist John Ise described "growing stocks, overflowing tanks, and declining prices, frantic efforts to stimulate more low and unimportant uses . . . dozens of new wells, and more oil, more oil."2

Yet this abundance was made as much as discovered. In pre-World War II California, fragmented property rights in oil spurred an orgy of competition and production that rapidly depleted Los Angeles-area oil fields. Public land policies along the coast and in the San Joaquin Valley, enacted after fierce national and state-level lobbying, pushed more oil onto the market on terms generous to oil operators. Government regulation managed surplus production and contained the worst competitive excesses. A successful fight to protect highway funding helped spur the rapid expansion of major roads, creating a market for gasoline-powered vehicles. These are just some of the ways oil's abundance has been made.

Politics and policy determined how rapidly oil moved onto the market in California and how avidly it was consumed.3 By shaping both oil supply and demand, politicians, bureaucrats, and judges influenced the price of oil. State, federal, and local governments decided who would benefit from the oil boom and what share of oil production the government would retain for the public treasury. Politicians and judges weighed oil's threat to the quality of the environment and to other local businesses against benefits for oil operators, workers, and consumers. These petroleum politics disrupted earlier patterns of public land disposal and government promotion of canals, railroads, and streetcars. Yet new oil land leasing programs and the highway projects also resembled their predecessors, particularly in the way they promoted rapid resource extraction and channeled economic development toward a dominant mode of transportation. Petroleum politics ultimately changed the map of California in the twentieth century, and the housing, employment, and recreational expectations of its residents and visitors.

In studying the volatile politics of the oil economy, this book carries forward into the twentieth century the research of historians who have written about nineteenth-century economic development, federalism, and infrastructure like canals and railroads. Post-World War II scholars like Oscar and Mary Handlin and Louis Hartz found the roots of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal in the activities of nineteenth-century state governments.4 They discovered an "American System," in which state governments planned, promoted, and regulated economic development.5

James Willard Hurst's magisterial 1964 study of the Wisconsin lumber industry, Law and Economic Growth, carried to new heights this investigation of how government relates to the economy. Hurst divided the legal history of the lumber industry into component parts. He examined in extraordinary detail the distribution of public lands, awarding of transport franchises, taxation of timber production, establishment of a framework of contract, and absence of regional planning. Hurst explained how shortsighted political leadership had created a system that encouraged the Wisconsin lumber industry to clear-cut the northern forests, leaving behind a trail of social and ecological devastation.6

My book about the California oil economy follows Hurst's long-overgrown trail into the thicket of public land policy, business regulation, transportation development, and public finance. Rather than take the market structure for granted and merely study how firms competed within it or, alternately, apply a simple ethical grid of corporate conspiracy to a complex history, the book examines how the California oil market changed over time in response to the interplay of political, legal, and economic developments. Sometimes corruption and greed drove the policy process. But in other instances, particularly in the Great Depression, differing conceptions of the public good, fairness, and equity also underlay political struggles and institutional innovations. The conflict between small-scale local operators and the corporate behemoth Standard Oil at Huntington Beach, for instance, was complicated by a parallel split over beach protection and oil drilling in California's coastal waters. Standard Oil managed to stand for beach protection and conservation while also signifying monopoly and corporate influence over the legislature.

As Hurst suggested in his pathbreaking work, economic activity, regardless of the sector, is structured by certain key institutional building blocks. I explore four of these building blocks of the California oil economy in the thematic chapters that follow: property rights, federalism, regulatory rules, and tax policies and investment.

The allocation of property rights by the national government underlay all further development of the oil economy. Some of the richest oil reserves in United States history lay beneath federal public lands in California's San Joaquin Valley. As a regional oil boom heated up in the first decade of the twentieth century, the federal government generously distributed lands according to nineteenth-century laws designed to thwart monopoly and encourage economic development. Small, interlocked landholdings intensified competition for common underground oil pools and resulted in the rapid depletion of oil reserves. When the federal government responded to political pressures by trying to change its oil-land policies, sympathetic western judges and politicians undercut federal initiatives on behalf of industry allies. The conflict laid bare characteristic patterns in litigation and lobbying in United States politics and law.

Because political power is dispersed in American federalism, the state government also made critical decisions about how to allocate oil lands. California's control of rich coastal mineral deposits gave it considerable discretion over how its oil resources would be developed and by whom. California quickly demonstrated the enduring significance of federalism. As real estate interests and oil developers battled over the future of the coast, the state politics of coastal oil deviated sharply from national struggles over oil fields in the dry, sparsely populated San Joaquin Valley.

Meanwhile, regulatory rules governing the oil business became the subject of a complicated political struggle. Oil's wild production cycles drove down prices, ruined investments, and bankrupted companies. Within the framework of property law and antitrust regulation, industry, state, and federal leaders searched for ways to control production. Their efforts ranged from voluntary cutbacks to state-imposed natural gas conservation and state and federal production mandates. Although oil operators fought over which form of legal or economic coercion to embrace, practically no one in or out of the oil industry called for a "free market" solution that would leave oil prices solely to the forces of supply and demand.

Regulation of oil production and the political allocation of petroleum resources were heavily shaped by the characteristics of petroleum underground and technological advances that facilitated extraction. Oil was found in California principally in the sparsely settled San Joaquin Valley, the well-populated Los Angeles Basin, and the nearby coastal waters off Southern California. Trapped in large reserves underneath subsurface geological structures, oil pools freely crossed surface property lines. This boundary-crossing mobility disrupted management strategies and intensified conflicts over ownership between neighboring oil producers. Regulatory regimes were further complicated by the need to manage natural gas production. Although oil rises to the surface like water in a well, the added upward pressure of natural gas, found in concert with petroleum, helped lift oil to the surface, maximizing production. Managing this natural gas, initially worthless except for its service to oil production, thus became intertwined with regulating oil. Technological changes also shaped regulation of the industry. In the decades before World War II, oil companies gained greater control over the depth and direction of drilling. These advances increased production and enabled operators to tap oil pools thousands of feet underground or far offshore. At the same time, oil companies also learned to extract more energy and value from each barrel of oil in the refining process, contributing to a glut of petroleum products that dragged down the market in the late 1920s and the 1930s.7

Tax policies and investment provided a final key building block for the California oil market. Gasoline for motor vehicles dominated the oil market by the end of the 1930s, while sales of petroleum-based asphalt for highways helped bring additional profits to California oil companies. Public investment had spurred the stupendous growth of the railroad system in the nineteenth century. Now governments provided crucial financial backing for the highways that would link dispersed residences and businesses, providing a transportation backbone for commercial trucking, commuting to work, and recreational touring. During the pivotal years of the Great Depression, when California's government and railroads and streetcars limped along financially, the state highway budget grew steadily, protected by a semiautonomous institutional and financial structure. Railroad and streetcar networks stalled and staggered, while California spun an intricate web of highways. In the post-World War II period, however, the state found itself caught. Many Californians agreed by the late 1960s that the state had overbuilt its highway system. Even Governor Ronald Reagan, generally hostile to environmental regulation, called for action against automobile-related smog. The state had trapped itself in an automobile landscape of its own making, one that bolstered the market for petroleum through the remainder of the twentieth century.

The four key building blocks examined here—property politics, federalism, regulatory rules, and public investment in highways—demonstrate the extensive and ongoing role government played in the oil economy. There are, of course, other political factors beyond the scope of this book. The laws governing employer-employee relations helped determine the cost of labor to the industry. United States foreign policy, combined with agile political negotiating by corporate lawyers, influenced how much companies like Standard Oil of California invested in overseas concessions. And tax subsidies for drilling directly influenced oil company profits.

Searching for the Causes of Environmental Change

We live in a petroleum landscape. We know well the environmental effects of the Santa Barbara and Exxon Valdez oil spills, the implications of smog and freeways, and the threat of global climate change. But do we know the causes? My analysis of the California oil economy focuses on subjects like highway tax policy, which may seem quite removed from environmental politics and history. Environment and ecology are typically associated with trees, rivers, animals, and minerals—the stuff of nonhuman nature. Why focus on economic politics and law in a project that seeks above all to contribute to our understanding of environmental problems and solutions?

The California environmental movement after World War II coalesced in the fiery politics of oil spills, air pollution, and sprawling freeways. Environment activists have attributed these diverse problems to the production and use of oil. Yet blaming the oil economy begs a further question: how have we become so dependent upon oil and the automobile? To answer this question, we must turn from petroleum's well-known environmental impacts toward the institutional and political factors that shaped the California petroleum economy.8 The origins of the oil economy, and the forces continuing to influence its development, do not lie in exhaust and oil spills, which are the primary targets of our attention and regulatory efforts. We have our greatest impact on the natural world through what we make and buy, even though we do not label these activities "environmental" or "ecological."9 Our decisions to build, consume, create, and destroy are often driven by factors remote from our direct relationship with the natural world.

Politics, economics, and geology transgress neat boundaries. Issues that we commonly separate and label as environmental are inextricably linked to nonenvironmental political and economic developments. Philosophical differences about the proper balance between government and private business in the economy, for instance, shaped the decade-long controversy over access to California oil lands that culminated in the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. During the Great Depression, petroleum policies were directly balanced against other public priorities in the context of a severe budgetary shortfall. The growing burden of unemployment relief illustrated this link by spurring political interest in coastal oil revenues. Motorist advocates and oil companies also demonstrated that they recognized the connection between petroleum policy and other political issues when they supported a state sales tax to safeguard highway funds and avoid further taxes on oil production. We can understand the factors shaping petroleum development, and environmental change more generally, only in the same broad political and economic context.

In its focus on the political economy of oil, this book builds on recent developments in environmental history that highlight intricate connections between environment and economy. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, leading environmental historians had departed from an earlier emphasis on conservation politics and ideas of nature and instead began to trace changing material relations between nature and society.10 "Intellectual and political history may be environmental history's parents," wrote the historian Richard White, "but they are, by themselves, unable to nurture it." The new environmental history explored the "transformation of the land" and examined the "reciprocal influences of a changing nature and a changing society."11

Yet even as this new approach attracted followers in the emerging discipline of environmental history, the difficulty of explaining the causes of environmental and social transformation sparked further methodological change. Hewing close to the intersection of nature and society produced rich accounts of how people exploited natural resources and altered the land, and how nature itself constrains and shapes society. But these accounts raised further questions about causality. How did expanding European economies incorporate and transform their colonial hinterlands? Was it enough to assert, as Donald Worster did in his prize-winning Dust Bowl (1979), that the 1930s dust storms had been caused by a peculiarly American form of capitalism whose "drives and motives" were "overrunning a fragile earth"?12 Dissecting the workings of metropolitan expansion and capitalism required a more subtle analysis of human institutions and economies. Worster's Rivers of Empire (1985) demonstrated this greater complexity by articulating a theory of the state and exploring how the exploitation of water resources was linked to the exploitation of people.13

Increasingly sophisticated analysis by Worster and other environmental historians set the stage for fresh dialogue about the causes of environmental transformation. The new questions cannot, however, be answered simply through additional stories about the transformation of the land. William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis (1991), for instance, a compelling study of Chicago's economic and ecological relationship with its hinterland, introduces profound questions about American political economy and environmental change taken up here. Do competition among producers and changes in consumption patterns explain American economic development, or does the explanation lie with political conflict over market institutions, such as property rights, taxes, public investment, and regulation? Did Americans drift slowly and inevitably into transforming the North American economy and ecology, or did they make discernible public choices that determined the continent's fate? Where Cronon argues that largely uncoordinated economic decisions by producers, merchants, and consumers drove market expansion and ecological change, my book takes the opposite approach and explores the political dimensions of environmental change.14

The Relationship between Business and Government

Taking this perspective to environmental history, this book goes beyond traditional environmental concerns to contribute to a larger discussion about the role of government in the United States economy. We commonly ask: How much should government intervene in our economic life? How much should we rein in or unleash the market? The common conceptual division of government from market institutions, revealed by the ubiquitous image of government intervention, stems from a deeply flawed understanding of our economic history and the nature of American capitalism. In fact, governments constructed the legal framework for the market, they enabled market institutions to shift with new developments, and they bankrolled many of the newest, unexpected additions. By doing things like allocating the broadcast spectrum, governments continue to create and distribute new property rights. With tax policies that reward home ownership or charitable giving, governments channel economic activity. Through public investment, they nurture new industries like the Internet. By necessity, governments continually balance competing interests. Public officials have to choose: among types of taxation (income versus sales versus wealth); between antitrust enforcement and property rights that might yield monopoly; and between favoring some enterprises with government largesse over others, as in the transportation sector. Governments have not built the market alone. But without government there could be no market as we know it today.

Public policy decisions on issues of finance, regulation, and access to resources have enormous implications for business success and failure in every portion of the economy. Consequently, throughout the forty-year period covered here, individuals and corporations in the oil and transportation sectors struggled constantly to reshape the legal regimes that governed their operations. Businessmen knew that laws and politics determined their access to resources, the speed at which they would develop oil reserves, and the extent of highway infrastructure. They felt deeply the cut of taxes and royalties that they owed the state. Grasping the importance of public policies to their corporate success, California's oil operators, highway contractors, and real estate developers made politics a central part of their business operations.15

In the California oil economy, businesses competed within a market that the firms themselves helped structure. In addition to the traditional business regulation that historians tend to emphasize, firms influenced tax policy, public investment, and laws determining access to resources. Corporate leaders at Standard Oil of California as well as independent businessmen like Ralph B. Lloyd, a Ventura landowner and oil man, understood that they could not disentangle business from economic politics. When surplus production undermined crude oil prices, industry leaders worked with public officials to tame a wildly fluctuating oil market. California highway boosters similarly struggled to bolster and protect state highway funding. Since highways were publicly financed and operated, politics and the transportation business were inseparable.

The political coalitions that formed around energy issues reveal that oil producers and consumers saw their interests as closely allied. The oil industry lobbied for measures that built demand for their product. This commitment led the industry to support, or at least accept, the collection of state gasoline taxes earmarked for highway construction. The oil industry also used these gasoline taxes paid by motorists as an effective rhetorical means to deflect efforts to institute a per-barrel production tax on California oil. In a further twist, the main players in California's petroleum politics came together to produce the state's vaunted state park system. A broad-based highway coalition that included oil companies became a force for building the parks. State oil royalties also emerged as California's primary source of beach and park funding.

As the many references to state gasoline taxes, parks, and budgets indicate, the relationship of business to state government is far more intimate and often more significant than what takes place at the national level. The state government dominated the major transformations occurring in California's oil economy in the first four decades of the twentieth century. From coastal oil development to the regulation of petroleum production to the construction of the highways, statewide politics, more than national maneuvering, structured California's oil economy until at least World War II. Sometimes they did so independent of federal policy, sometimes in dynamic relationship with it.

Studies of United States energy and transportation policy typically overlook the critical role of state policy, particularly in the pre-World War II period when the states established the institutional framework for a national society fueled by oil.16 Recent histories of the oil industry, preoccupied by the 1970s oil crisis and a more general federal bias among researchers, focus almost exclusively on national and international energy policy, giving short shrift to the impact of regional politics.17 A similar omission prevails in transportation history. Yet state-level politics and economics played a critical role in the national embrace of motor vehicles, predating and laying the groundwork for the well-known federal funding of interstate highways after 1956.18

Studying past developments in the California oil economy opens the door to a wide-ranging exploration of United States history. Truths about the oil economy are insights into our entire society, as virtually every economic activity in the United States is connected in some way to petroleum. Many of the nation's largest companies in the twentieth century were those oil, chemical, automobile, and aircraft firms directly dependent on petroleum production and consumption. Petroleum also fueled the modern environmental movement through the widespread pollution of air and water, and the habitat-consuming sprawl that oil made possible. A petroleum-oriented foreign policy drew the United States into two wars against Iraq and into a Persian Gulf military presence that helped provoke the rise of Islamic militants. Global warming, caused in great part by releasing carbon dioxide through oil consumption, may prove the twentieth century's most lasting and devastating legacy.

With energy concerns at the top of our national political agenda, we must understand more fully the origins of our petroleum society. Oil's utility contributed enormously to its rapid adoption and consumption. Yet incessant political and legal wrangling also powerfully shaped the oil economy. It determined which fields were exploited and how fast, who got the oil, how much it cost, and where and how it would be used. As Californians—and their counterparts in other states and nations—fought over economic and environmental policy, they made choices about the structure of the oil market. We live with those choices today. How we come to terms with this historical legacy is a critical challenge that Americans, and indeed the world, will face in the coming generation.


Introduction. Structuring the Oil Market

1. Frederick Jackson Turner, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1893 (Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1894); David M. Potter, People of Plenty: Economic Abundance and the American Character (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1954); Gavin Wright, "The Origins of American Industrial Success," American Economic Review 80, no. 4 (September 1990): 651-68.

2. John Ise, The United States Oil Policy (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1926), 109.

3. For writing about governments and markets, see Peter Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Evelyne Huber Stephens, introduction to States versus Markets in the World-System (London: Sage, 1985); Richard H. K. Vietor, Contrived Competition: Regulation and Deregulation in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Belknap Press, 1994); Neil Fligstein, "Markets as Politics: A Political-Cultural Approach to Market Institutions," American Sociological Review 61 (August 1996): 656-73.

4. Oscar Handlin and Mary Flug Handlin, Commonwealth: A Study of the Role of Government in the American Economy: Massachusetts, 1774-1861 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969); Louis Hartz, Economic Policy and Democratic Thought: Pennsylvania, 1776-1860 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1948); Milton Heath, Constructive Liberalism: The Role of the State in the Economic Development of Georgia to 1860 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1954); Carter Goodrich, Government Promotion of American Canals and Railroads, 1800-1890 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960); Goodrich, ed., Canals and American Economic Development (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961); George Rogers Taylor, The Transportation Revolution, 1815-1860 (New York: Rinehart, 1951); Henry W. Broude, "The Role of the State in American Economic Development, 1820-1890," in The State and Economic Growth, ed. Hugh G. J. Aitken (New York: Social Science Research Council, 1959), 4-25. See also Harry N. Scheiber, Ohio Canal Era: A Case Study of Government and the Economy, 1820-1861 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1969); L. Ray Gunn, The Decline of Authority: Public Economic Policy and Political Development in New York State, 1800-1860 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988).

Surprisingly, this fine tradition of scholarship has sparked little scholarly work on twentieth-century state governments. For one call for studies of state law and governance in the twentieth century, see Harry N. Scheiber, "Public Economic Policy and the American Legal System: Historical Perspectives," Wisconsin Law Review 6 (1980): 1159-89, 1179. State-level studies that reach into the twentieth century include Lawrence M. Friedman, Contract Law in America: A Social and Economic Case Study (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965); Gerald D. Nash, State Government and Economic Development: A History of Administrative Policies in California, 1849-1933 (Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, 1964); and Arthur McEvoy, The Fisherman's Problem: Ecology and Law in the California Fisheries, 1850-1980 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986). See also work on the history of the state courts from 1870 to 1970 by Robert Kagan, Lawrence Friedman, Bliss Cartwright, and Stanton Wheeler: Kagan et al., "The Business of State Courts, 1870-1970," Stanford Law Review 30 (November 1977): 121-56; Kagan et al., "The Evolution of State Courts," Michigan Law Review 76 (May 1978): 961-1005; Friedman et al., "State Supreme Courts: A Century of Style and Citation," Stanford Law Review 33 (May 1981): 773-818; and Wheeler et al., "Do the 'Haves' Come Out Ahead? Winning and Losing in State Supreme Courts, 1870-1970," Law and Society Review 21, no. 3 (1987): 403-45.

5. Robert Lively, "The American System: A Review Article," Business History Review 29 (1955): 81-96. See also Harry N. Scheiber, "Government and the Economy: Studies of the 'Commonwealth' Policy in Nineteenth-Century America," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 3 (1972): 135-51.

6. James Willard Hurst, Law and Economic Growth: The Legal History of the Lumber Industry in Wisconsin, 1836-1915 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Belknap Press, 1964), 4-5. Hurst is better known for his other pioneering and less-imposing studies of American law: The Growth of American Law: The Law Makers (Boston: Little, Brown, 1950); Law and the Conditions of Freedom in the Nineteenth Century United States (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1956); and Law and Social Process in United States History (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Law School, 1960). For commentary on Hurst's contributions to legal history, see Harry N. Scheiber, "At the Borderland of Law and Economic History: The Contributions of Willard Hurst," American Historical Review 75 (1970): 744-56; Mark Tushnet, "Lumber and the Legal Process," Wisconsin Law Review (1972): 114-32; Robert Gordon, "J. Willard Hurst and the Common Law Tradition in American Legal Historiography," Law and Society Review 10, no. 1 (1975): 9-56; Sidney Harring and Barry Strutt, "Lumber, Law, and Social Change: The Legal History of Willard Hurst," American Bar Foundation Research Journal 113, no. 1 (1985): 123-44.

7. Harold F. Williamson, Ralph L. Andreano, Arnold R. Daum, and Gilbert C. Close, The American Petroleum Industry: The Age of Energy, 1899-1959 (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1963), chap. 11.

8. This literature is substantial. See, among other works, James E. Krier and Edmund Ursin, Pollution and Policy: A Case Essay on California and Federal Experience with Motor Vehicle Air Pollution, 1940-1975 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977); Robert M. Fogelson, The Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles, 1850-1930 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967); Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (New York: Vintage, 1992); Alfred Lewis, Clean the Air! Fighting Smoke, Smog, and Smaze across the Country (New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1965); Joel Garreau, Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (New York: Doubleday, 1991); James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape (New York: Touchstone, 1993); Fred W. Viehe, "Black Gold Suburbs: The Influence of the Extractive Industry on the Suburbanization of Los Angeles, 1890-1930," Journal of Urban History 8, no. 1 (November 1981): 3-26; A. E. Keir Nash et al., Oil Pollution and the Public Interest: A Study of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill (Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, 1972); Robert Easton, Black Tide: The Santa Barbara Oil Spill and Its Consequences (New York: Delacorte Press, 1972); Nancy Quam-Wickham, "'Cities Sacrificed on the Altar of Oil': Popular Opposition to Oil Development in 1920s Los Angeles," Environmental History 3, no. 2 (April 1998): 189-209; Joseph A. Pratt, "Letting the Grandchildren Do It: Environmental Planning during the Ascent of Oil as a Major Energy Source," Public Historian 2, no. 4 (summer 1980): 28-61; Ise, United States Oil Policy. The story of global climate change has just begun to be told by scientists and journalists. For a recent review of the scientific literature, see Tom M. L. Wigley, The Science of Climate Change: Global and U.S. Perspectives (Arlington, Va.: Pew Center on Global Climate Change, 1999) and R. T. Watson and the Core Writing Team, eds., Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report. A Contribution of Working Groups I, II, and III to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

9. See Raymond Williams's critique of the "intellectual separation between economics and ecology" in "Ideas of Nature," in Problems in Materialism and Culture: Selected Essays (London: Verso, 1980), 67-85. In current environmental politics, environmental groups increasingly recognize these connections and seek to shape international trade agreements, tax policy, international financial flows, and government subsidies for highways, dams, and natural resource industries. The programs of the World Resources Institute and Friends of the Earth exemplify these trends, although the organizations are not alone in such efforts. See www.wri.org and www.foe.org.

10. For a discussion of this shift, see Richard White, "American Environmental History: The Development of a New Historical Field," Pacific Historical Review 54 (1985): 297-335. Two pioneering works representing the political and intellectual strains of the field are Samuel P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890-1920 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959); Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 3d ed. (1967; reprint, New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1982). For representative works from the next generation of environmental history, see Richard White, Land Use, Environment, and Social Change: The Shaping of Island County, Washington (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1980); William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (New York: Hill and Wang, 1983); Carolyn Merchant, Ecological Revolutions: Nature, Gender, and Science in New England (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989); Donald Worster, Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).

11. White, "American Environmental History," 316-17, 335.

12. Worster, Dust Bowl, 243.

13. Donald Worster, Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West (New York: Pantheon, 1985).

14. William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: Norton, 1991), 384.

15. As the historian Richard Vietor has written of the airline, telecommunications, and natural gas industries, "There are two related environments in which [a regulated firm] must operate effectively: the market and the political arena." Contrived Competition, 21.

16. Two exceptions to this tendency to focus on federal policy are David F. Prindle, Petroleum Politics and the Texas Railroad Commission (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981); and William R. Childs, "Texas, the Interstate Oil Compact Commission, and State Control of Oil Production: Regionalism, States' Rights, and Federalism during World War II," Pacific Historical Review 64 (1995): 567-98.

17. See Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991); John G. Clark, Energy and the Federal Government: Fossil Fuel Policies, 1900-1946 (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1987); Richard H. K. Vietor, Energy Policy in America since 1945: A Study of Business-Government Relations (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984); Anthony Sampson, The Seven Sisters: The Great Oil Companies and the World They Shaped (New York: Bantam Books, 1975); Gerald D. Nash, United States Oil Policy, 1890-1964: Business and Government in Twentieth Century America (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1968). For exceptions to this characterization of energy studies, see Joseph Pratt's work on the Texas oil industry and the transition from coal to oil in the early twentieth century: The Growth of a Refining Region (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1980); Pratt, "Growth or a Clean Environment? Responses to Petroleum-Related Pollution in the Gulf Coast Refining Region," Business History Review 12, no. 1 (spring 1978): 1-29; Pratt, "Letting the Grandchildren Do It"; Pratt, "The Ascent of Oil: The Transition from Coal to Oil in Early Twentieth-Century America" in Energy Transitions: Long Term Perspectives, ed. Lewis Perelman, Gus Giebelhaus, and Michael Yokell (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1980). For a call for further study of regional oil development, see Gerald D. Nash, "Oil in the West: Reflections on the Historiography of an Unexplored Field," Pacific Historical Review 39, no. 2 (May 1970): 193-204.

18. For the national story, see James J. Flink, The Automobile Age (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1988); Mark H. Rose, Interstate: Express Highway Politics, 1941-1956 (Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1979); Warren James Belasco, Americans on the Road: From Autocamp to Motel, 1910-1945 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1979); Mark S. Foster, From Streetcar to Superhighway: American City Planners and Urban Transportation, 1900-1940 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981); Clay McShane, Down the Asphalt Path: The Automobile and the American City (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994); Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere; Garreau, Edge City.

Greater attention to state transportation policy can be found in Robert Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (New York: Knopf, 1974); and in Hal S. Barron, "And the Crooked Shall Be Made Straight: Public Road Administration and the Decline of Localism in the Rural North, 1870-1930," Journal of Social History 26, no. 1 (fall 1992): 81-103. Despite being viewed by many as the epicenter of American automobile culture, California still lacked a comprehensive survey of state highway and transportation development in the twentieth century. Two recent overviews are David W. Jones Jr., California's Freeway Era in Historical Perspective (Berkeley: Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, 1989); and Brian D. Taylor, "When Finance Leads Planning: The Influence of Public Finance on Transportation Planning and Policy in California" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1992). Metropolitan studies are more common in the transportation field. See Fogelson, Fragmented Metropolis; Scott L. Bottles, Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of the Modern City (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987); Joel A. Tarr, Transportation Innovation and Changing Spatial Patterns in Pittsburgh, 1850-1934 (Chicago: Chicago Public Works Historical Society, 1978).

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