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What Happens When the Green New Deal Meets the Old Green Laws?
Vermont Law Review
  • J. B. Ruhl, Vanderbilt University Law School
  • James Salzman, UCLA
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Green New Deal,
  • environmental protection,
  • renewable energy,
  • climate change

The multi-faceted infrastructure goals of the Green New Deal will be impossible to achieve in the desired time frames if the existing federal, state, and local siting and environmental protection statutory regimes are applied. Business, labor, property rights, environmental protection, and social justice interests will use them to grind the Green New Deal to a snail's pace. Using the renewable energy transition as the infrastructure case study, this Essay is a call to arms for the need to design New Green Laws for the Green New Deal. Part I briefly summarizes what we are learning about the pace and magnitude of climate change impacts and the need for rapid and robust mitigation and adaptation responses. Part II demonstrates the magnitude and urgency of new renewable energy infrastructure needed to fulfill Green New Deal goals. Part III points to the intensity of pushback that renewable energy has faced under existing siting and environmental protection laws. Part IV uses the Texas wind power experience to argue that mobilizing the Green New Deal energy transition will require resolving significant trade- offs regarding environmental protection, property rights, process, and sovereignty. Ultimately, for the Green New Deal to succeed in its renewable energy (and other) infrastructure agendas, siting and environmental protection regulatory regimes will need to tolerate more streamlined, top- down, preemptive processes, as well as extensive use of eminent domain powers, which necessarily will require new ways of satisfying demands for distributive justice and public participation.

Citation Information
J. B. Ruhl and James Salzman. "What Happens When the Green New Deal Meets the Old Green Laws?" Vermont Law Review Vol. 44 (2020) p. 693 ISSN: 0145-2908
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