Why the U.S. Does Not Have a Renewable Energy Policy

7 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2011 Last revised: 25 Mar 2015

Date Written: July 4, 2011


There is a large gap between the percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources in the U.S. and EU. This paper argues the reasons are not just a failure of policy in the U.S. but also matters of deep political structure and culture. Federalism, separation of powers, changing policies with frequent changes of governing political parties, free market ideology, and popular expectations of cheap energy born of large historic supplies of fossil fuels are all discussed. The author then mounts a "half-hearted and partial" defense of the U.S. approach in terms of the maxmin strategy in game theory and portfolio theory in economics.

Keywords: Renewable energy, Comparative energy policy

JEL Classification: Q20, Q40, Q42, Q48

Suggested Citation

Elliott, E. Donald, Why the U.S. Does Not Have a Renewable Energy Policy (July 4, 2011). 43 Environmental Law Reporter 10095 (Feb. 2013); Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 433. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1878616 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1878616

E. Donald Elliott (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
202 256-4149 (Phone)

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