Welcome! I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Environment and Society at Brown University, also affiliated with the Climate Social Science Network. I received a Ph.D. in Political Science as a Policy Studies Endowment Fellow at George Washington University in August 2022. Originally from rural Southern Illinois, I earned a B.A. in Political Science with minors in environmental studies and biology from Truman State University in Northeast Missouri. Growing up in an area developed through the coal industry, but surrounded by a national forest and state parks, I was driven to better understand the balancing act between the energy industry and environmental protection. This guided my research as an undergraduate and was further influenced by nine months working in all three branches of the Missouri government. I primarily worked with state utility regulation and energy policy in the Missouri Senate and Department of Natural Resources.
My research is generally concerned with better understanding how and why the federal and state governments address (or do not address) climate change. I focus on energy and environmental politics and policy, primarily in the contexts of executive and legislative branch behavior, partisanship, interest groups, and public opinion and representation.
My dissertation examined the influence of partisanship and other forces on the policy decisions of state public utility commissions (PUCs)–responsible for regulating a substantial portion of state electrical power policy–and how those policy decisions ultimately affect conditions related to climate change. I have assembled expansive original data on the characteristics of the public utility commissioners who served in all 50 states from 2000 to 2020 and coded a large volume of their policy decisions in a growing sample of 10 states. This project has stimulated an active research agenda on the politics and policy decisions of PUCs that can inform our understanding of climate change policymaking, state politics, gubernatorial appointments, legislative control of the bureaucracy, interest group strategies and influence, and other areas.
Download my Full CV
Ph.D., Political Science, August 2022
George Washington Univeristy
B.A., Political Science, Summa Cum Laude, May 2017
Truman State University
Heern, Jared. 2023. “Who’s Controlling Our Energy Future? Industry and Environmental Representation on United States Public Utility Commissions.” Energy Research & Social Science 101: 103091.
“The Partisanship of Public Utility Commissions, 2000-2020.” (Invited to Revise and Resubmit at Environmental Politics)
“Partisanship and the Environmental Policy Decisions of Public Utility Commissions.”
“Legislative Control of State Public Utility Commission Climate Policy Decisions.”
“Who Gets Their Way in Public Utility Commission Decisions? Strategies and Outcomes in Net Metering Conflicts.”
“The Role of Expert Staff in Regulatory Decisionmaking.”
“The Democratization of Electricity Bills: Public Access to Utility Regulation.” with J. Timmons Roberts.
Public utility commissions (PUCs) are critical political institutions in all 50 states responsible for regulating public services, affecting the provision, cost, and sources of electrical power. Given their influence over state energy policies, PUCs could play a significant role in stemming climate change. It is expected that partisanship may be a primary driver of PUC environmental policy decisions similar to other political institutions. I assemble expansive original data on the partisan and professional compositions of the PUCs in all 50 states from 2000 to 2020, and code the environmental implications of a large volume of final policy decisions in a smaller sample of states. It is found that Democratic PUCs issue more pro-environmental orders than Republican commissions. The partisan control and policy decisions of PUCs are then related to downstream indicators relevant to climate change. There are no expected effects of additional pro-environmental decisions on energy generation sources, energy efficiency, or harmful air emissions from the electrical power sector. Improved measurement of PUC policies, data from additional states, and a greater consideration of the interactions between PUCs and state legislatures should yield better understanding of the role that PUCs play in addressing climate change.
“The real-world application was well explained and the homework felt applicable to the course work and helped me better understand what we were talking about - not busy work. The professor was easy to reach and very helpful. His feedback was always encouraging and constructive.”
“Great teacher. Managed an asynchronous lecture well. Assignments were well developed and feedback was helpful.”
“The instructor covered the topics thoroughly and explained them very well. Also easy to reach and flexible.”