April 1, 2013 - "Green Energy Policy in the Northeastern United States"
By: Mark R. Sussman and Graham T. Coates
The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Environment & Climate Change Law 2013 - 10th Edition
A practical cross-border insight into environment and climate change law
Green Energy Policy in the Northeastern United States
The United States has yet to adopt a nationwide regulatory strategy to minimise greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. Although a patchwork of federal programmes aim to encourage energy efficiency and spur renewable resource development, Congressional gridlock has thwarted any attempt to develop a comprehensive national climate change regime. As a result of this vacuum in national climate policy, many states have begun to fill this void by taking the initiative to develop their own state-level programmes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage renewable energy development. The United States legal system is unique in that (absent federal legislation or constitutional prohibition) the individual states may regulate as they see fit. This system, known as the federalist system, has permitted states to develop their own climate-related initiatives. As Supreme Court Justice Brandeis remarked many years ago, “it is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country”. New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, 285 U.S. 262 (1932). Of all the states experimenting with climate initiatives, the states of the U.S. Northeast serve as some of the most novel and innovative examples of state-level climate policy.