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Fall 2023 Course

Climate and Energy Law and Policy

Prerequisites: None for JD students. LLM students need to have taken at least one environmental law or energy law course (including Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, or Contemporary Issues in Oil and Gas Law: Fracking, Takings, Pipelines, and Regulation) or Administrative Law.

Exam: No Exam

This course provides an introduction to U.S. energy law and climate policy. The first portion of the course will focus on regulation of the electricity sector, including an overview of different sources of electricity (e.g., coal, natural gas, and renewables), the division of federal and state regulatory authority over this sector, and the consideration of environmental factors in traditional utility sector regulation. The second portion of the course focuses more directly on the environmental impacts of energy policy, particularly its impact on climate change. This part covers federal environmental regulation of power plants (e.g., the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan), federal and state regulation of the transportation sector (e.g., efficiency standards for cars and trucks), and other policies to reduce demand for oil. We will also address environmental concerns raised by relatively clean sources of energy, such as nuclear power, and natural gas produced through hydraulic fracturing. Finally, the third portion of the course explores case studies of emerging topics in energy law and policy that highlight the complex transitions taking place in the energy system. These topics may include barriers to state implementation of renewable energy policies, the divestment movement and pipelines protests, the relationship between energy policy, climate change and national security, and energy and climate policy under President Trump.

Evaluation: Evaluation will be in the form of 9 short but substantive and analytically rigorous comment papers of 750 words each on the assigned materials (students may choose 9 of the 13 weeks, with some limitations to ensure coverage for the entire course). Students will also be required to be “lead discussants” for at least one class session, and are expected to participate in discussion on a regular basis.