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Currently 83 percent of the energy consumed in the United States is from fossil fuels. This in turn creates 81 percent of the United States' emissions of greenhouse gases, is the principle source of air pollution, and leads to major environmental problems where the fuel is extracted from the ground. Increasing the share of non-fossil energy involves a switch from the fuels that took tens of millions of years to form under the ground, to sources that are constantly renewed. This column is devoted to the legal aspects involved in increasing the share of the energy that we use that comes from renewable sources. The author points to six legal techniques that have been developed to increase the use of renewable energy: 1) Portfolio Standards 2)Mandatory Utility Purchases 3)Renewable Fuel Standards 4)Carbon Price 5) Tax Incentives and 6)Research and Development. In addition to this, the author points to six impediments to the growth of renewables: 1)Intermittency 2)Fossil Subsidies 3)Capital Availability 4)Turnover Rate of Capital Plant 5)Scale and Timing and 6)Siting and Environmental Impacts.
On April 30, President Barack Obama signed into law the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, a much pared-down version of a bill that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Sen. Rob Portman have been pushing for several years. Several other energy-efficiency bills just underwent hearings in Congress. At the same time, the House Appropriations Committee has just voted to slash federal research on energy efficiency, and several bills to impede efficiency efforts are advancing. Thus it remains to be seen whether the EEIA has broken the logjam on energy-efficiency legislation, and will be followed by a gush of other bills, or is an anomaly in a Congress that is much friendlier to fossil fuels than to clean energy. This column begins with a description of the new enactment. It then discusses the other pending energy-efficiency legislation, and it concludes with a summary of the appropriations actions.
In 2009, the residential and commercial building sector was responsible for more than 50 percent of total annual U.S. energy consumption, 74 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption, and 39 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. There has been a growing movement to encourage "green buildings"- those that generally use water, energy and materials more efficiently than conventional buildings, and utilize design, construction and siting features to reduce their negative environmental impacts. In an effort to address these energy problems, Columbia Law School's Center for Climate Change Law has undertaken an effort to draft a model municipal ordinance on green buildings. This article explains their proposed model together with detailed commentaries on its features, the rationale behind the choices it embodies, the associated legal issues, and various optional add-ons that municipalities may wish to consider.
New laws were signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013 regarding notice requirements in the Brownfield Cleanup Program, Bottle Bill enforcement, mercury thermostats, oversized lobsters, shark fins, and Eurasian boars, among other things. On the regulatory front, the state promulgated final regulations concerning New York's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and regulatory relief for certain dairy farms, and proposed regulations for liquefied natural gas facilities and invasive species. This annual survey describes new environmental laws that were enacted in New York in 2013, as well as several significant regulatory developments. Specifically, this survey looks at developments in the areas of air emissions, brownfields, energy, infrastructure, land preservation, solid and hazardous waste, water pollution, and wildlife.
"Ohioans spend a large amount of money on energy. In 2010, we spent $45 billion, nearly 10 percent of our state’s gross domestic product. Nearly half of those energy dollars (or more than $20 billion) was spent to fuel cars, trucks, and buses, and nearly all of which left the state or country in order to import oil. Ohio can reduce its dependence on imported oil by promoting electric vehicles (EVs) and buses, as well as passenger and freight rail. Several Ohio communities, including Oberlin, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Cuyahoga Falls are using municipal aggregation and municipal utility power to increase use of local clean energy, thus keeping energy dollars local."
This legal guide provides a practical cross-border insight into environment and climate change law oriented towards the international business community. It discusses a range of topics including, but not limited to, contaminated land, waste, liabilities, asbestos, and emissions trading.
This legal guide provides a synopsis of U.S. Environmental law in 2010 oriented towards the international business community. It discusses a number of topics including, but not limited to, environmental policy and enforcement, environmental permits, waste, liabilities, and contaminated land.
The New York State Legislature on June 22, 2011, overwhelmingly passed the Power NY Act of 2011. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it on Aug. 4. The new law revives Article X of the Public Service Law after a nearly nine-year hibernation. As before, the law creates a one-stop, state-led program for permitting electric generating facilities while preempting local requirements. But the new Article X differs from its predecessor in several important ways: It covers facilities as small as 25 megawatts, it has even more generous provisions for funding intervenors, and it requires important new rules on environmental justice and carbon dioxide emissions. In this article, the author provides some background and history into Article X. In addition to this, the author explains the workings of the new version of Article X, including its siting board, pre-application and application processes, hearing and decision processes, and lastly, its impact on environmental justice.
Improving energy efficiency is widely acknowledged as the most economical way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the other adverse environmental impacts of fossil use. The United States lacks a comprehensive regulatory program for energy efficiency, although often overlooked are the roles of the state public utility commissions (PUCs). PUCs have long been in charge of setting retail electricity rates and service standards. In recent years, many of them have launched programs and set policies to encourage or require the electric and gas utilities that they regulate to use energy more efficiently or to help their customers do so. This column summarizes the variety of powers and techniques of PUCs to advance energy efficiency, such as the use of energy efficiency targets, utility incentives, shared benefits, on-bill financing, and low-income programs.
To evaluate initial success of California's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund program in assisting underserved communities tackle climate change,, The Greenlining Institute examined 10 projects: nine already funded and one that is eligible for funding. These case studies provide an early snapshot of the Fund’s impact and suggest ways the program might be improved. These 10 projects alone will provide over 2,000 solar power systems for low- income families generating nearly six megawatts of clean power, plant 2,250 trees in disadvantaged communities, provide 252 homes permanently-affordable to lower income households, create over 400 jobs and replace 600 old, highly polluting cars and trucks with clean electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.