Paul Sabin teaches energy and environmental history at Yale University. His first book, Crude Politics: The California Oil Economy, 1900-1940, examines how politics and law shaped a growing dependence on petroleum in California and the nation. Sabin previously served as the founding executive director of the nonprofit Environmental Leadership Program.

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Current climate and energy policy debates in the United States rarely involve historians. If you search the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 synthesis report, you will not find the words history or historical. Even so, history pervades climate and energy policy discussions. History guides policy choices, inspires proposals for …

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