GEOG 432
Energy Policy

Reactive and Proactive Policy

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Reactive policy

Reactive Policy is developed in response to a concern, problem, or emergency. It is designed to remedy problems that already exist. Reactive policy development often happens more quickly than proactive policy, as the problems can be pressing or even urgent. Reactive policy debate centers mostly on whether or not a certain policy mechanism is the best way to handle a situation, not whether or not the situation will ever become a problem.

Example: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was passed in response to nationwide economic crisis. The Act authorizes the distribution of $787 billion to create and save jobs, to incentivize economic activity and investment, to increase accountability in government spending, and to enhance infrastructure.

Proactive policy

Proactive policy is deliberately chosen and often designed to prevent a concern, problem, or emergency from occurring. Proactive policies can be more challenging in that it is often difficult politically to get lawmakers to commit money and resources to a problem that has not yet occurred. Even so, you'll find many examples of proactive measures in energy policy.

Example: The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 contains proactive measures related to higher standards in energy efficiency for everything from appliances to miles per gallon in our vehicles. These provisions are not done in response to an acute problem, but rather in an effort to conserve energy resources.

When you think about energy policy, do you think it's mostly proactive or reactive? Which type of policy do you think best suits energy issues and why?

Look at the policies below and figure out whether they are reactive, proactive, or contain examples of both. That's right, both! If you don't know already, you'll find out in Lesson 3 that energy policy (like many forms of policy) is often long, cumbersome, and complicated. That means that one policy can easily contain both proactive and reactive measures for addressing energy challenges.

Check Your Understanding - Multiple Choice Example

Look at the policies below and figure out whether they are reactive, proactive, or contain examples of both.

  • Clean Air Act 1990
  • Energy Independence and Security Act 2007
  • Renewable Portfolio Standard
  • Farm Bill (2002, 2008)
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Click for answer.

ANSWER:
  • The Clean Air Act 1990 is Reactive
  • The Energy Independence and Security Act 2007 is Reactive and Proactive
  • The Renewable Portfolio Standard is Proactive
  • The Farm Bill (2002, 2008) is Reactive and Proactive
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is Reactive