Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program

Government and Legal Studies

First Advisor

Andrew Rudalevige


With the impacts of climate change becoming more and more apparent every day, finding means of effective action to mitigate its effects become increasingly critical. While localized work can play an important role, federal action is necessary to have the most widespread and effective impact, especially on interconnected issues such as clean energy. Congressional action is the avenue of change at this level, however in an increasingly partisan and divided environment, progress on this front is far short of what is needed.

Looking to the president is logical here, both as a single actor more insulated from partisan fights, but also as head of the branch in charge of implementing the nation’s laws. This paper looks to explore what means of influence the president has on the action taken by federal agencies and how such methods can be made more effective. Through a principal-agent framework, the role of regulatory and appointment powers are examined with a variety of historical and contemporary case studies. While only a subset of the powers afforded to a president, the areas explored offer wide latitude for action, in areas that are particularly important for energy development. The paper concludes with some reflections for the future, suggesting how these considerations can be practically applied.