A Green Victory Against Great Odds, But Was It Too Little Too Late? A Case Study About a Fierce Battle to Pass a Major US Energy Bill

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Gina Coplon-Newfield

This case study provides an intimate view into the fierce battle among major US nonprofit environmental groups, Members of Congress, and industry over energy policy in 2007. The resulting law slashed pollution by raising car efficiency regulations for the first time in three decades. For negotiators and advocates, this case provides important lessons about cultivating champions, neutralizing opponents, organizing the masses, and using the right message at the right time.

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SUMMARY:
This case study provides an intimate view into the fierce battle among major US nonprofit environmental groups, Members of Congress, and industry over energy policy in 2007. The resulting law slashed pollution by raising car efficiency regulations for the first time in three decades. For negotiators and advocates, this case provides important lessons about cultivating champions, neutralizing opponents, organizing the masses, and using the right message at the right time.

This case is based on the actual negotiations and offers lessons for business, law and government students and professionals in multiple subject areas. They include negotiation, climate change, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and more.

Q&A
We recently asked author Gina Coplon–Newfield to discuss her case study. Here’s what she had to say:

Q. Tell us about your case study “A Green Victory Against Great Odds” and why should teachers and trainers consider adding it to their curriculum?

A. This case showcases an exciting battle in Congress for major energy policies that have slashed pollution and provided new opportunities for clean energy solutions. I wrote this case, in part, to show that it’s not just corporate and government leaders who make change in the world, but nonprofit and community advocates too. The path to an imperfect victory that I describe in this case provide important lessons for people of all political persuasions trying to understand how we create meaningful public policies and improve lives in the United States.

Q. What type of class is it best suited for?

A. I think students of policy, government, negotiation, environmental studies, grassroots organizing, and non-profit leadership will learn a lot from this case.

Q. What are the major lessons?

A. Find your champions and keep them champions. Frame your issue and your message in the right way. Organize people to speak up to policymakers; it’s a key ingredient to success.

Q. What distinguishes “A Green Victory Against Great Odds” from other case studies that might appear to be similar?

A. When researching this case, I interviewed people who had put their hearts and souls and intense strategic thinking into campaigning for energy solutions. I think you’ll find that their passion and the surprising lessons they learned shine through when you read the case.

Q What qualities do the most effective environmental policy-makers/advocates posses?

A. Depending on the moment, patience and impatience. Also, strong attention to building and keeping relationships.

Q. What are you most excited about in the ever-evolving movement toward cleaner energy?

A. We already possess most of the solutions we need to protect our health and our planet and to lead us to a strong clean energy economy. Our exciting challenge is to catalyze government, private industry, and ordinary people to put these solutions into practice. Plug-in electric vehicles, for example, meet the needs of many people in our society. They are fast, fun, technologically exciting, cheaper to fuel, and lower in emissions. We just need the right government policies, corporate commitment, and public education to make them an exciting choice for people.

This case study includes the following:

  • Detailed Case Study
  • Case Timeline
  • Case Study Discussion Questions

A Green Victory Against Great Odds, But Was It Too Little Too Late? Attributes

Authors: Gina Coplon-Newfield
Publisher: Program On Negotiation