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POLS 364 - U.S. Energy Policy Analysis

  • 3 credits

This course is about Energy Policy Analysis, a kind of applied public policy analysis. For those of you who haven’t used the term, public policy is many things to many people. We'll explore that in class. Where does one find public policy? Mostly in official decisions of government: Laws, rules; Judicial court decisions, orders; Executive orders, speeches, rules, regulations. Those are the principle places to find the official decisions of government, to find out what our public policy is at a particular time.

A conceptual framework will be presented for analysis of energy technologies and alternative national energy policy choices in terms of their dollar, environmental, and national security costs. Issues and problems associated with implementation of U.S. energy policies will be examined in the context of major social goals (e.g., growth, equity), with treatment of conflicts and trade-offs between energy development and other social values (e.g., health and safety, cultural and aesthetic values).

Modules require students watch short videos about energy topics with which they may be unfamiliar, and some short readings other than the required text.

    • Module 1: Introduction: Where did oxygen come from, and what does it take to make ice burst into flames?
    • Module 2: Supply Expansion and Demand Suppression

Historically, there have been three general approaches to energy policy analysis in the U.S. Here are two of them: supply expansion and demand suppression. The third one is below.

  • Module 3: Cost Analysis: Analytical Framework
  • Module 4: Are We Ready for 250 Million Climate Change Refugees?
  • Module 5: Environmental Costs of Coal, Nuclear, Oil and Gas
  • Module 6: Environmental Costs of Solar, Wind and Geothermal
  • Module 7: Environmental Costs of All the Rest (Hydroelectricity, Biomass, Conservation and Efficiency, Ocean, Hydrogen, Transportation and Electricity Transmission)
  • Module 8: Dollar Costs of Energy Fuel Technologies
  • Module 9: National Security Costs of Energy Technologies
  • Module 10: Observations about Costs of Technologies
  • Module 11: Revolutionary Energy Technologies in the Near-Term
  • Module 12: Energy Technologies Going Nowhere: Fusion
  • Module 13: Hoax Energy Technologies: Cold Fusion
  • Module 14: Transportation and Electricity Transmission
  • Module 15: Elements of a National Energy Policy
  • Module 16: The Gaia Theory

Course Requirements: This class will be conducted as an advanced undergraduate seminar. The entire course will be structured around development of a policy analysis within a single substantive policy area: energy policy. This is learning by doing.

Quizzes: There will be a quiz each week for a total of 15 quizzes, but only scores on the best 10 of them will count towards your final grade. The others will be dropped into a black hole. Everybody has bad days, and the goal here is to see the best you can do. You will need to complete the quiz for each week before you can move on to the next week, but you may move along at your own pace.

Book Review: A book review of no more than 4-5 typewritten pages is due November 26, for 400 points. The book must be relevant to evaluation of at least one of the energy fuel technologies we are investigating. See reading on Writing a Book Review for guidance. Hint: avoid collections of articles by several authors; they are more difficult to review.

Discussion: Discussion of ideas in the course is required and will be graded. Students will need to make at least one original posting of at least 100 words, and three replies of at least 50 words to postings by others on each discussion question. Most discussion questions ask for your opinion about something. Your opinion will not be graded. Grading will be based on how you use information in the course to support your opinions.

I expect this course will be a voyage of discovery for most students, no matter how much you know about this subject.


POLS 101 (American Government and Politics); and sophomore standing

Textbooks and Materials

Section 801


  • Energy Policy Analysis: A Conceptual Framework (2013)
    Hamilton, Michael S.
    ISBN: 978-0765623829

Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.

Electronic versions of the text are available at and at less cost.


Jeff Cook

Jeff’s research focuses on federal and state environmental and natural resources regulatory policy with a special emphasis on the interface between interest groups and agency personnel. Some of his published work in these fields is available in Review of Policy Research, Environmental Policy and Governance, the Journal of Natural Resource Policy Research, and the International Journal of Public Administration. Jeff is also a research associate at the Center for the New Energy Economy in Fort Collins, Colorado, and a graduate policy analyst intern at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Prior to joining CSU, Jeff received a master’s degree in environmental science and policy at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, where he also received a bachelor’s degree in environmental politics and policy, political science, and public administration.