Vol. 41 No. 1

The Threat Divider: Expanding the Role of the Military in Climate Change Adaptation

By: Gregg Badichek It is all but undeniable that climate change creates drastic national security concerns for the United States, despite the assertions of certain contrary political forces.   While the United States legislature  and judiciary  can and should play a direct role in addressing these risks by abrogating climate risk, the executive branch and its agencies, in comparison, possess tremendous opportunities and abilities to do so.  Specifically, the armed forces under the DoD  face unique challenges, but also possess unique advantages, in the realm of climate change adaptation.  Certainly the military divisions under the executive play a paramount role in hemming national security risks; due to its developing expertise, the possibility of the military’s enormous influence in the realm of climate change adaptation should be recognized and embraced. This Note argues that the military’s role in climate change adaptation—specifically in regards to national security threats domestically and abroad—should be […]

Looking in the Side-View Mirror: Assessing the Current and Future State of the Solar Energy Industry as it Reaches the Mainstream

By: Brian Palumbo The popularity of solar energy has risen as its cost has rapidly decreased since 2005.   A Deutsche Bank projection claims that the cost of solar energy will reach grid parity  by 2016, and an International Energy Agency report asserts that by 2050, solar energy could be a viable source of electricity worldwide.   On its face, these projections depict a bright future for solar energy and society.  Yet solar energy’s presence as an alternative form of energy might be more vulnerable than forecasts depict.  With the upcoming expiration of valued government incentives and pushback from energy competitors, solar energy will not run untouched to the end-zone.   In other words, solar energy approaches a critical juncture where its deficiencies might come to the forefront.  To view these vulnerabilities, a qualitative investigation of solar energy is required.  Solar energy is growing at a remarkable rate,  yet there […]

The Risk in Discretion: Substantive NEPA’s Significance

By: Jamison E. Colburn Every student of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) knows that it is a “procedural” statute.  Its practical difference as law is to force agencies to take a “hard look” at their proposed actions before taking them.   NEPA’s broadest goal—that the government “foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations”—is not, by contrast, law to be enforced.   In short, NEPA’s ultimate goal of making American society more sustainable has been marginalized even as its chief procedural tool—the Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”)—has become ubiquitous.  NEPA section 102(2)(C) clearly mandates in a modally unmistakable way that “all agencies of the Federal government,” when taking any “major Federal action[] significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” prepare an EIS, specifying […]

Picking Winners and Losers: A Structural Examination of Tax Subsidies to the Energy Industry

By: Tracey M. Roberts In debates over whether government should continue to subsidize renewable energy, politicians have repeatedly warned that government should not be “picking winners and losers.”   This way of framing the debate undermines sensible policy analysis in two ways.  First, it obscures the long history of federal support for fossil fuels; the United States has been picking winners and losers for over 100 years.  Second, it fails to articulate what it means to “pick winners and losers,” to explain why doing so is less efficient than pursuing other economic policies, and to inquire why this suboptimal choice has been made.  This article addresses these failings by examining two sets of tax subsidies to the energy industry, one for fossil fuels and the other for renewables. Part II  of this article describes economic situations that would justify government intervention in the energy markets and explains why Congress has […]