Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Walter Hatch

Second Advisor

Kenneth Rodman


Given the push from the private sector, as well as the resource complementarities among the three countries of North America, it is somewhat surprising that North America has not developed an integrated energy strategy based on traditional, non-renewable energy (2000-2016). How should we understand this puzzle? The answer lies in domestic forces and the structure of national preferences. Using liberal international relations theory, this thesis presents a two-step argument: first, the election of pro-green political parties has in each country led to a convergence of preferences for climate action. Essentially, as each one came to power, the win-set for a regional strategy on fossil fuel production, energy exports, and energy infrastructure shrunk, while the win-set for clean energy and climate change mitigation increased. Second, key interest groups have acquired sufficient voice and power in each country to persuade the three North American governments that developing a regional strategy based on fossil fuels would undermine their interests. Through behind the door lobbying and public mobilization, the groups have been able to shift the conversation surrounding ‘regional energy cooperation’ to ‘regional clean energy and climate change cooperation.’ This thesis uses the method of process tracing to analyze the related events from 2000-2016 and test why certain governments acted the way they did in regards to energy cooperation.


North America, Energy Politics, Energy Cooperation, Oil and Gas, Climate Change