Crude Politics: The California Oil Market, 1900-1940

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University of California Press, 2005 - Business & Economics - 307 pages
"Paul Sabin has written a brilliant case study of how legal and political choices construct 'free markets'. He shows how battles over property rights, regulation, taxes, and highway and environmental policy shaped the oil market and with it the future of California's cities, roads, coastline and public finance. Clear-headed, meticulous, and filled with the drama of momentous conflicts between public and private interests, Crude Politics is legal-economic history at its best."—Robert W. Gordon, Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and Legal History, Yale University

"Paul Sabinís lucid analysis of how the oil industry and the auto industry shaped California’s environment is a wonderful blending of political economy and environmental history. Sabin convincingly demonstrates how the market for oil, like all modern markets, was a political creation whose ramifying and surprising effects from freeways and pollution to state parks and public access to beaches are all too often unrecognized."—Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University

"To a much greater degree than most Americans usually appreciate, the central story of the past century was the story of oil. Paul Sabin's Crude Politics is a pioneering effort to trace for a single key state—California—the evolving web of relationships needed to sustain the production, distribution, and consumption of a critical resource on which virtually every aspect of modern life now depends. As we contemplate the waning future of that resource in the twenty-first century, we would do well to heed the insights about its twentieth-century past offered by this important book."—William Cronon, author of Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

"Getting energy prices right is key to addressing our global climate crisis. With graceful prose and forceful argument, Paul Sabin shows how petroleum prices today are a product of more than a century of fierce political struggle over oil supply and demand. Anyone who wants to understand the political and economic factors that have created our present dependence on cheap oil should read this book."—James Gustave Speth, author of Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment


The End of the Old Property Regime
The Politics of the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act
Albert B Fall and Edward Doheny
Beaches versus Oil in Southern California
The Same Unsavory Smell of Teapot Dome
Culbert L Olson
The Struggle to Control California Oil Production
State expenditures for highways in California 19201945
Streetcar on Santa Monica Boulevard
Tax assistance for highways in California 19331945
Defending the UserFinancing System
Early view of Cahuenga Pass
Opening day ceremonies at Cahuenga Pass
Highway fund and general fund balances 19281942
The Politics of Petroleum Prices

Huntington Beach oil field
Grading an earthen storage reservoir
Transportation by Taxation
Plank road Yuma sand dunes

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About the author (2005)

Paul Sabin is a senior research scholar at Yale Law School and executive director of the nonprofit Environmental Leadership Program. He has taught U. S. economic and environmental history at Yale University and the Harvard Business School.