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‘Bradley: Gas, Oil Interests Invite Intervention’ (1996 book review revisited)

By John Jennrich -- May 24, 2016

Twenty years ago, Rob Bradley, then president and now CEO of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), published a two-volume, two-thousand-page history of hydrocarbon regulation, legislation, economics, and politics from the mid-1800s to the mid-1980s. Titled Oil, Gas & Government: The U.S. Experience, Bradley’s treatise puts many of today’s energy issues in historical context.

On April 1, 1996, I wrote about the book in the newsletter I founded and edited, Natural Gas Week. I started my column, dubbed Perspective, by quoting philosopher George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Today, 20 years later, I would urge current legislators and regulators to consider the main takeaways of Bradley’s book before casting another vote or initialing another regulatory memo.

In his book, Bradley said that political motivations for government intervention are “narrow and self-interested, not necessarily in the common good and not necessarily representative of the citizenry.”…