Course Details

Environment, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development

One key opportunity and challenge for our society and government policymakers at all levels is how to construct policies that support both environmental progress - healthier air and cleaner water, and open space with diverse habitat - and economic growth together. This challenge is compounded by the growing realization that we must have policies that meet not just immediate needs, but future generations' needs as well by reducing carbon pollution that causes destructive climate change and by preserving natural resources both for their future use and their own intrinsic value. We will focus special attention on both the legal authorities and limitations under the Constitution and federalist system that policymakers, litigants and the public face in trying to achieve this goal. In this seminar, we will be learning about and discussing clean energy development policies and financing solutions that are accelerating in the United States and global markets, and. the newly emerging "clean energy law," "climate change law" and "environmental constitutionalism" as federal courts increasingly review, for the first time, the constitutionality of federal and state environmental and energy statutory standards. For example, what are the limits under the Commerce Clause, Supremacy Clause and the 10th Amendment on federal actions to encourage state clean energy and environmental policy actions, and in what circumstances should there be federal preemption of states' energy policy initiatives? Do the Commerce Clause and the Supremacy Clause affect state standards for new renewable energy development, and state subsidies for otherwise uneconomic old nuclear power plants to keep running? Can a state enact a renewable energy standard requiring utilities to purchase a percentage of their electricity supply from wind power and solar energy and specify that those resources be principally provided from in-state generators? What are the constitutional and statutory lines of demarcation between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's and state Public Utilities Commissions' regulatory authority for transmission siting and pricing, and for energy efficiency and demand response? What challenges are presented by a federal system of government, based on state boundaries, in regulating energy generation, which produces commodities (i.e., electrons) and pollution that cross those boundaries? What are the benefits versus risks and harms of inconsistent standards in Justice Brandeis' "fifty laboratories of democracies"? This seminar will take place in "real time" while: (1) There is rapidly developing clean energy case law as key new decisions are being issued by the United States Supreme Court and other courts in this area of emerging law; (2) The federal courts are reviewing EPA's Clean Power Plan, other Clean Air Act standards, and other environmental standards; (3) The Trump Administration is moving to fundamentally change environmental and energy policies, but the federal Production Tax Credit for wind power and Investment Tax Credit for solar energy remain in force; (4) State and municipal governments are moving to implement clean energy development policies and innovative financing approaches; (5) Market forces and technological innovations - more energy efficient lighting, appliances and equipment, low-priced natural gas, and improving wind power and distributed solar energy and energy storage - are reshaping traditional energy markets and putting new economic pressures on aging baseload coal and nuclear plants; and (6) The private sector is accelerating investments in cleaner energy developments and strategies. Course requirements are engaged class participation (33% of grade) and a final paper of 25-35 pages (67% of grade) on a seminar-related topic of the student's choice. There are no prerequisites for the seminar although a previous environmental law or natural resources law class, and constitutional law and administrative law course(s), will be helpful. This class meets the Research Writing Requirement

Catalog Number: PPTYTORT 613
Practice Areas: Environmental Law Area
Additional Course Information: 1 Draft degree req may be met with class,  3 draft degree req may be met with class,  Research Writing


Course History

Spring 2020
Title: Environment, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development
Section: X     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 0