The Netherlands: Resource management and civil society in the natural gas sector

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In the earliest days of the Dutch gas sector, from 1950 to 1973, the government and the gas industry negotiated the natural gas regime without much involvement of society, in a similar way to Norway. As this chapter explains, policy-making was confined to the country’s elite, representing the various ‘pillars’ of Dutch society: Protestants, Catholics, liberals and socialists. Between 1973 and 1995, when these pillars started to crumble, civil society took a more active stance on gas exploitation and commercialization. However, because of the public-private institutional setup that had already been established, there was little actual impact on gas policy. From 1995 to 2010, gas policy was characterized by liberalization, with gas becoming a commodity rather than a public good. During this period, a multitude of actors began to voice their opinions about many aspects of energy and gas supply, including economics, climate change, safety, geopolitics and local environmental protection, often in opposition to each other. This created a situation, particularly after 2012, in which policy-making has become increasingly complex. On the one hand, the role of national policy has been reduced by liberalization and by the increasing dominance of EU regulation. On the other hand, public opinion is divided on many energy issues and often seems disconnected from the complexities of managing a real-world energy system.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublic Brainpower: Civil Society and Natural Resource Management
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783319606279
ISBN (Print)9783319606262
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Civil society
  • Democracy groningen
  • Environmentalism
  • EU regulation
  • Gas
  • Liberalization
  • Natural resources
  • Netherlands
  • Petroleum governance
  • Pillars

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