Vol. 38 No. 1

Harnessing the Power of the Ground Beneath Our Feet: Encouraging Greater Installation of Geothermal Heat Pumps in the Northeast United States

Although ground-source heat pumps are an appealing source of renewable energy, they have yet to truly catch on in the United States—especially in the Northeast.  The Introduction of this Note will introduce readers to the different types of geothermal heat pumps and their mechanics.  Part I will explain how high initial costs, information deficits, and governmental failures to make available equal financial incentives for geothermal heat pumps in the Northeast have inhibited the growth of their usage in the region.  Part II will analyze the financial incentives and regulations that impact the use of geothermal heat pumps.  Part III will discuss the barriers to widespread geothermal heat pump adoption and why current laws and regulations are inadequate to address these barriers.  Part IV will propose several ways state governments can encourage greater installation of geothermal heat pumps.  Specifically, I will argue that a loan program modeled after New York’s On-Bill […]

Stifling the Wind: California Environmental Quality Act and Local Permitting

At the turn of the millennium, California led the nation in installed wind energy capacity.  California had over 1600 megawatts (“MW”) of capacity, representing a majority of the nation’s 2472 MW.  The second most developed state had only had seventeen percent of California’s capacity.  However, since 2000, wind capacity in the United States has increased twentyfold to almost 50,000 MW, while capacity in California has less than tripled. Although many factors contribute to differing rates wind energy development across the United States, California’s decentralized siting and arduous environmental evaluation requirements should bare blame.  Though California still maintains the third most installed wind energy capacity, despite ranking nineteenth in terms of total wind generating potential, it still has 34,000 MW of uptapped on-shore economic wind potential.  In-state wind resources have the potential to meet 39.4% of the State’s current energy needs but currently only provide 3.3%.  Focusing on California’s relative wind […]

A Triple Bottom Line for Electric Utility Regulation: Aligning State-Level Energy, Environmental, and Consumer Protection Goals

Aligning state policy goals can help keep the lights on and electricity prices affordable while also promoting investments in clean energy technologies and efficiency measures that protect public health and the environment. This Article explores the opportunities and challenges to aligning state energy, environmental, and consumer protection goals within the current regulatory system, and proposes a “triple bottom line” (“TBL”) approach to state utility regulation to achieve this alignment.  The original TBL concept encourages businesses and governments to measure value by considering environmental and social dimensions in addition to fiscal considerations.  By comparison, the TBL approach for electric utility regulation proposed here aims to harmonize existing state policy goals of ensuring: (1) affordable electricity; (2) reliable electricity; and (3) protection of public health and the environment.  Specifically, it allows officials across state governments to consider how their roles affect all three TBL pillars, thereby enabling informed decision making and comprehensive […]

Aviation, Carbon, and the Clean Air Act

Can CAA regulation achieve aviation emissions regulations significant enough to establish equivalency with E.U. policy while remaining cost-effective and politically acceptable?  Fully answering this question requires judgments about the range of options realistically available to the EPA in the current U.S. political environment and about the range of policies the E.U. would consider “equivalent”—judgments that would be, at best, informed guesses.  But the core part of the question is legal.  Specifically, what tools are available to the Agency under the CAA to regulate aviation emissions, and how might they be used for GHGs? This Article is an attempt to answer that core legal question. The Agency’s powers to address aviation GHGs under the Act have not been thoroughly studied.  A few court decisions, EPA documents, and petitions to the Agency have looked at the issue or aspects of it, but none is a comprehensive assessment. One relatively brief scholarly treatment […]