The Past, Present, and Future of Energy Regulation

15 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2010

See all articles by Richard J. Pierce

Richard J. Pierce

George Washington University Law School

Date Written: October 1, 2010


This essay is a contribution to a symposium at University of Utah. It begins with a summary of the history of energy regulation from 1960 until 2011. It then makes three arguments. First, the essay argues that the US should abandon pursuit of the goal of energy independence and pursue exclusively the goal of global warming mitigation. Second, it argues that the US should replace its present reliance on expensive and ineffective subsidies and mandates to mitigate global warming with a single mechanism to attain that goal – a large carbon tax. Third, the essay recognizes that, while a carbon tax offers the best prospect of mitigating global warming, that task is so difficult that it might not be attainable through any means.

Keywords: Energy Regulation, Global Warming, Carbon Tax, Oil, Natural Gas, Electricity

JEL Classification: H40, H73, K23, L90, L97, L98, N70, O33, Q48

Suggested Citation

Pierce, Richard J., The Past, Present, and Future of Energy Regulation (October 1, 2010). GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 513, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 513, Available at SSRN: or

Richard J. Pierce (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

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