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The New(Clear?) Electricity Federalism: Federal Preemption Of States’ “Zero Emissions Credit” Programs, Joel Eisen Jan 2018

The New(Clear?) Electricity Federalism: Federal Preemption Of States’ “Zero Emissions Credit” Programs, Joel Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

This Article proposes and applies a “conscious disregard” test for resolving the upcoming appellate litigation that involves the conflict between federal authority over the electric grid and state laws providing subsidies to nuclear power plants in the form of “zero emissions credits” (ZECs). This test draws upon principles of conflict preemption, as elaborated in three recent Supreme Court decisions on the intersection of state and federal jurisdiction over the electric grid under the Federal Power Act. It provides that if a state law explicitly aims to directly affect wholesale electricity market prices, terms or conditions, its subsidy program is impermissible ...


Free Trade In Electric Power, Joel Eisen Jan 2018

Free Trade In Electric Power, Joel Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

This Article develops the core legal framework of a new electricity-trading ecosystem in which anyone, anytime, anywhere, can trade electricity in any amount with anyone else. The proliferation of solar and other distributed energy resources, business model innovation in the sharing economy, and climate change present enormous challenges — and opportunities — for America’s energy economy. But the electricity industry is ill equipped to adapt to and benefit from these transformative forces, with much of its physical infrastructure, regulatory institutions, and business models a relic of the early days of electrification. We suggest a systematic rethinking to usher in a new ...


Environmental Law Practice: Problems And Exercises For Skills Development, Noah M. Sachs Jan 2018

Environmental Law Practice: Problems And Exercises For Skills Development, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

One of the few books to focus on practice as opposed to pure substantive issues, this book provides environmental law teachers with a new resource for imparting practical skills. The authors have drawn on their wide experience as environmental law professors and practitioners to develop realistic exercises that teach the craft of environmental lawyering. Readers will learn how to bring a federal enforcement action against a polluter; negotiate a Superfund settlement; prepare documents and strategy for a citizen's suit; counsel a corporation on environmental compliance; and comment on an EPA rule making, as well as many other relevant skills ...


Dual Electricity Federalism Is Dead, But How Dead And What Replaces It?, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2017

Dual Electricity Federalism Is Dead, But How Dead And What Replaces It?, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

The Supreme Court decided three cases in the past year involving the split of jurisdiction between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the states in the energy sector: FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association, Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing and ONEOK v. Learjet. This Article concludes that these watershed decisions herald a new approach to governing the rapid evolution of the modern electric grid. Discussing the decisions, the analysis demonstrates that they mark the end of “dual federalism” in electricity law that treated federal and state regulators as operating within separate and distinct spheres of authority, and proposes that ...


Book Review, The Electric Battery: Charging Forward To A Low-Carbon Future, Joel Eisen Jan 2017

Book Review, The Electric Battery: Charging Forward To A Low-Carbon Future, Joel Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

The Electric Battery is the product of a Vermont Law School team led by Kevin Jones, the school’s Director of the Institute for Energy and the Environment. It is an essential resource for scholars, policymakers and others interested in the future for storage technologies in transportation and electricity, the sectors of the economy that produce the most greenhouse gases. Professor Jones brings considerable expertise to the project, having produced well-regarded reports on smart grid issues, and some projects mentioned in the book – such as the partnership between Tesla and Green Mountain Power – are located in the authors’ home state ...


Demand Response’S Three Generations: Market Pathways And Challenges In The Modern Electric Grid, Joel Eisen Jan 2017

Demand Response’S Three Generations: Market Pathways And Challenges In The Modern Electric Grid, Joel Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

Through a historical analysis spanning nearly five decades, this Article provides a comprehensive discussion of how demand response (reductions in electricity consumption in response to grid emergencies or price signals) has become both a growing resource on the electric grid and a policy trailblazer in the grid’s ongoing transformation. The discussion centers on three separate generations of efforts to promote demand-side measures in the electric grid, dating to the 1960s and oriented chronologically around important events in the electric power industry.

Demand response has been a test bed of important regulatory principles like frameworks for interactivity with the grid ...


The Supreme Court’S New Electricity Federalism, Joel B. Eisen May 2016

The Supreme Court’S New Electricity Federalism, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

This Insights piece is excerpted from the article, Dual Electricity Federalism Is Dead: But How Dead And What Replaces It?, in the George Washington Journal of Energy and Environmental Law.

In a remarkable burst of activity, the U.S. Supreme Court decided three cases in the past year involving the split of jurisdiction between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the states in the energy sector. FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association and Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing dealt with the relationship between FERC and the states in governing the electric grid under the Federal Power Act (FPA). ONEOK ...


Should The United States Create Trading Markets For Energy Efficiency?, Noah M. Sachs Jan 2016

Should The United States Create Trading Markets For Energy Efficiency?, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

This Comment examines whether the vision for energy efficiency markets matches the reality. It explains how energy efficiency markets work, examines the handful of energy efficiency markets that have been established to date, and explores the policy challenges inherent in commodifying energy efficiency and making it a tradable good.


Ferc V. Epsa And The Path To A Cleaner Electricity Sector, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2016

Ferc V. Epsa And The Path To A Cleaner Electricity Sector, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

This article analyzes the impact of FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association, in which the Supreme Court upheld FERC’s demand response rule (Order 745) and confirmed FERC’s authority over “practices” “directly affecting” wholesale rates for electricity. It contends that the Supreme Court made a definitive pronouncement on FERC’s authority over end users of electricity who also provide resources back to the electric grid. It also contends that FERC v. EPSA marks the end of “dual federalism” in electricity law that treated federal and state jurisdiction as separate and distinct spheres of authority. Instead, it posits a new ...


Ferc’S Expansive Authority To Transform The Electric Grid, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2016

Ferc’S Expansive Authority To Transform The Electric Grid, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

Using an unprecedented historical analysis of over 100 years of law dating to the Progressive Era, this Article concludes that the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) v. Electric Power Supply Association properly asserted that FERC has ample authority to pursue broad environmental and energy goals in transforming the electric grid. Building on the Court’s finding that FERC may regulate “practices” that “directly affect” rates in wholesale electricity markets, the analysis develops a detailed standard that is consistent with interpretation of regulatory statutes in each of three distinct eras: the Progressive Era, the era ...


Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Measures In The United States Electric Power Industry, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2015

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Measures In The United States Electric Power Industry, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

This chapter addresses greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation measures in the US energy sector, and, specifically, those applying to the US electric power industry. The focus is on the systems of federal, state, regional, and local regulation of GHG emissions associated with electricity generation, transmission and distribution, concentrating on the regulatory trends likely to have the largest impacts on mitigating GHG emissions. In addition, this section will discuss the extent to which these systems of regulating GHG emissions have evolved over the past decade.


Time To Upgrade Drinking Water Protections, Noah M. Sachs Jan 2015

Time To Upgrade Drinking Water Protections, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

A year ago, residents of Charleston, W.Va., learned that their entire drinking water supply had become contaminated by MCHM, a toxic chemical used to wash coal. Ten thousand gallons of MCHM had spilled from a corroding storage tank by the Elk River, located a mile upstream of the city’s drinking water intake pipes. As a result of the chemical spill, 300,000 citizens lost their water for more than a week, and hundreds sought emergency care.

That accident alone should have been a wake-up call for Virginians about the need to protect our water supply from chemical spills ...


Energy, Economics, And The Environment: Cases And Materials, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2015

Energy, Economics, And The Environment: Cases And Materials, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

The Fourth Edition of Energy, Economics and the Environment focuses on the unifying characteristics of energy law, while also emphasizing its connections to environmental and economic issues affecting energy industries. The casebook covers the full range of energy resources, as well as an in-depth examination of issues related to electric power.

Like previous editions, this casebook is intended to be used in an Energy Law survey course, but the materials in the book are rich enough that they can also be adapted to a course or seminar covering renewable energy, oil & gas, electricity regulation, or advanced topics in environmental law. Previous editions of the casebook have been used in law school classrooms for nearly two decades. The new edition of the casebook provides a pedagogical window that can readily be adapted to a variety of courses and teaching styles as issues in energy continue to change. Materials in the casebook include extended problems, case studies, and other practice-oriented materials to allow students to learn important concepts in a practical context.

We emphasize four recurring and cross-cutting themes throughout the casebook: (1) public versus private ownership of energy resources; (2) monopoly vs. competition; (3) externalities and risk concepts ...


Stigmatized Sites And Urban Brownfield Redevelopment, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2015

Stigmatized Sites And Urban Brownfield Redevelopment, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

This chapter addresses the "stigmatized sites" located in urban areas in the United States and Europe and the "brownfields" redevelopment programs aimed at removing the stigma and promoting remediation and reuse of these sites. Although the European Union has put regulatory frameworks in place, the United States has led the global effort to address brown fields redevelopment, and the discussion in this chapter will focus on American models for brown fields remediation and reuse.


An Open Access Distribution Tariff: Removing Barriers To Innovation On The Smart Grid, Joel B. Eisen Aug 2014

An Open Access Distribution Tariff: Removing Barriers To Innovation On The Smart Grid, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

This Article proposes that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) consider promulgating an Open Access Distribution Tariff (OADT) to open the nation's electric grid to new products and services at the consumer (distribution) level. Design of the OADT would be comparable to the Open Access Transmission Tariff that the FERC has used previously to open the nation's transmission wires. This Article argues that an OADT is necessary to create a smart electricity network that would be national, multimodal, and interactive. There is no smart electricity network at present, and there are numerous barriers to the development of open ...


Tackling Climate Change: Don't Forget Energy Efficency, Joel B. Eisen Jul 2014

Tackling Climate Change: Don't Forget Energy Efficency, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

Todd S. Aagaard and Joel B. Eisen write that one option available for states under the EPA's high-profile Clean Power Plan is relying on greater efficiency in energy usage and other demand-side strategies such as "demand response," which involves programs to reduce consumption at specific times of high electricity demand. However, a federal court recently cast a cloud over demand response's future.


Garbage Everywhere What Refuse In India's Streets Reveals About America's Hidden Trash Problem, Noah M. Sachs Jun 2014

Garbage Everywhere What Refuse In India's Streets Reveals About America's Hidden Trash Problem, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

In early 2014, I arrived in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, which just two years before had been paralyzed by a garbage-worker strike and a severe shortage of landfill space. The municipal government had responded to public anger over uncollected trash with decrees on waste segregation and composting that went unenforced, and by the time I showed up, not much had changed. In the city that bills itself as India’s Silicon Valley, there are still putrid piles of garbage all around town. Bangaloreans accept open dumps in their neighborhoods as a fixture of the landscape, to be seen ...


A Strategy To Protect Virginians From Toxic Chemicals, Noah M. Sachs Jan 2014

A Strategy To Protect Virginians From Toxic Chemicals, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

This report is divided into two main parts. Part I of this report details the major sources of toxic chemical releases in Virginia. Part II then discusses our recommendations in more detail, outlining a series of reforms that would help the Commonwealth police and reduce the risks from toxic chemicals.


Climate Change Triage, Noah M. Sachs Jan 2014

Climate Change Triage, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

Climate change is the first global triage crisis. It is caused by the overuse of a severely limited natural resource—the atmosphere’s capacity to absorb greenhouse gases—and millions of lives depend on how international law allocates this resource among nations.

This Article is the first to explore solutions for climate change mitigation through the lens of triage ethics, drawing on law, philosophy, moral theory, and economics. The literature on triage ethics—developed in contexts such as battlefield trauma, organ donation, emergency medicine, and distribution of food and shelter—has direct implications for climate change policy and law, yet ...


Energy And Environmental Law, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2013

Energy And Environmental Law, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

This chapter covers energy law, which focuses on the production, distribution, conservation, and development of energy resources. State and federal energy laws and regulations are designed to keep prices to consumers down (particularly in certain energy industries which state and federal governments monitor to keep markets as competitive as possible) and to address economic, environmental, and national security issues.


Can We Regulate Our Way To Energy Efficiency? Product Standards As Climate Policy, Noah M. Sachs Jan 2012

Can We Regulate Our Way To Energy Efficiency? Product Standards As Climate Policy, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

In this Article, I demonstrate that the regulatory strategy for energy efficiency is working. Although information disclosure, financial incentives, and other softer alternatives to regulation play a vital role in reducing energy demand, these should be viewed as complements to efficiency regulation, rather than replacements. The regulatory approach has led to substantial cost and energy savings in the past, it has enjoyed bipartisan political support, and it targets products and behaviors that are difficult to address through other policy tools. Given the politics of climate change in the United States, which make federal carbon taxes or a cap-and-trade system infeasible ...


Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership: Why The United States Should Ratify Ten Pending Environmental Treaties, Noah M. Sachs Jan 2012

Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership: Why The United States Should Ratify Ten Pending Environmental Treaties, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

For more than a century, the United States has taken the lead in organizing international responses to international environmental problems. The long list of environmental agreements spearheaded by the United States extends from early treaties with Canada and Mexico on boundary waters and migratory birds to global agreements restricting trade in endangered species and protecting against ozone depletion.

In the last two decades, however, U.S. environmental leadership has faltered. The best known example is the lack of an effective response to climate change, underscored by the U.S. decision not to join the Kyoto Protocol. But that is not ...


Protecting The Public From Bpa: An Action Plan For Federal Agencies, Noah M. Sachs Jan 2012

Protecting The Public From Bpa: An Action Plan For Federal Agencies, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a ubiquitous industrial chemical found in everything from baby bottles to cash register receipts. From its inauspicious creation in the laboratory by a group of scientists trying to synthesize an estrogenic compound for the pharmaceutical industry, it has become a fundamental building block of the multi-billion dollar plastics industry. Unfortunately, ever since anomalous results appeared in two research labs using BPA containing plastic equipment in the 1980s, evidence of the chemical’s toxicological risks has continued to mount. The chemical is an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it interferes with the body’s hormone system, and BPA’s ...


Distributed Energy Resources, "Virtual Power Plants," And The Smart Grid, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2012

Distributed Energy Resources, "Virtual Power Plants," And The Smart Grid, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

The specific focus of this Article is on the "virtual power plant" (VPP) concept, an intriguing idea that involves an aggregation of DERs to provide a "fleet" of resources that can serve as the functional equivalent of a traditional power plant. As the name suggests, this fleet of DERs can add up in the aggregate to the equivalent of a significant resource. Under certain conditions, this resource can be used on the grid (i.e., dispatched) much as a conventional power plant would be. This could reduce demand for fossil fuel-fired plants by enabling a utility to avoid generating electricity ...


Finality In Brownfields Remediation And Reuse, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2012

Finality In Brownfields Remediation And Reuse, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

The intersection of brownfields redevelopment and these broader concerns presents a host of issues. Does redevelopment of brownfields connect to a larger vision for the city that links with "smart growth" and climate action goals? Retooling the original developer-centered vision of VCPs to promote broader goals is an ongoing challenge. Has the affected community been involved in planning for brownfields remediation, or has the developer controlled the process? The latter narrows the ability to view the project as part of a community-wide plan, and undermines its legitimacy. Finally, if brownfields redevelopment yields benefits, how can we measure success over the ...


Rescuing The Strong Precautionary Principle From Its Critics, Noah M. Sachs Jan 2011

Rescuing The Strong Precautionary Principle From Its Critics, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

The Strong Precautionary Principle, an approach to risk regulation that shifts the burden of proof on safety, can provide a valuable framework for preventing harm to human health and the environment. Cass Sunstein and other scholars, however, have consistently criticized the Principle, rejecting it as paralyzing, inflexible, and extreme.

In this reassessment of the Strong Precautionary Principle, I highlight the significant benefits of the Principle for risk decision making, with the aim of rescuing the Principle from its dismissive critics. The Principle sends a clear message that firms must research the health and environmental risks of their products, before harm ...


Saving Some Green: Free Resources On Environmental Law, Suzanne B. Corriell Jan 2011

Saving Some Green: Free Resources On Environmental Law, Suzanne B. Corriell

Law Faculty Publications

Environmental legal research often requires examining federal, state, and local laws, in addition to understanding science and technology. While there are many print and subscription-based resources available for a fee, websites also can help you navigate the laws and stay current with environmental news, and legal and scientific developments.


China's Greentech Programs And The Ustr Investigation, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2011

China's Greentech Programs And The Ustr Investigation, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

The issue of China's support for renewables has taken center stage in a United States Trade Representative ("USTR") complaint alleging that China unfairly subsidizes its greentech industries, in violation of its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization ("WT0"). Well before that investigation began, numerous Americans believed the United States was less engaged in greentech promotion than China, and many feel the United States is falling behind. New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has been perhaps the most active proponent of this view, but he has plenty of company. If recent reports are to be believed ...


Residential Renewable Energy: By Whom?, Joel B. Eisen Jan 2011

Residential Renewable Energy: By Whom?, Joel B. Eisen

Law Faculty Publications

The technology already exists to put solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on millions of homes, but we have paid inadequate attention to getting them there. This current lack of focus on distribution will limit residential solar deployment indefinitely, unless it is addressed soon. While a number of solutions to this problem have been proposed or are in various stages of implementation, this Article finds that given the pressing need to address climate change, more rapid action is needed. In addition to pursuing other options for generating electricity using renewables (including onshore and offshore wind power, and utility-scale solar power stations), and ...


The Regulation Of Toxic Substances Hazardous Wastes, Noah M. Sachs Jan 2011

The Regulation Of Toxic Substances Hazardous Wastes, Noah M. Sachs

Law Faculty Publications

This casebook provides an in-depth look at one area of environmental law, toxic substances and hazardous wastes. The laws in this field are primarily designed to protect human health from toxic agents. The high stakes involved and the billions of dollars spent every year on implementation make this field highly controversial. A fundamental function of government is to protect citizens from harm, but there is widespread disagreement on how to measure risk, how to manage it, how much we should spend to address it, and which level of .government should take the lead role. Scientists play a crucial role in ...