Tracing U.S. Renewable Energy Policy

8 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2013

See all articles by Lincoln L. Davies

Lincoln L. Davies

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: July 9, 2013


It is commonly asserted that the Unites States, especially compared to other countries, lacks a cohesive renewable energy policy. This essay unravels the fallacy of this claim. The United States does have a national renewable energy policy. Assertions to the contrary are really just resurrected versions of the politically convenient allegation that the United States has "no" energy policy at all. The fact, however, that U.S. energy policy generally favors fossil fuels and nuclear energy does not mean domestic energy law ignores renewables. Rather, a conglomeration of statutes, regulations, and laws makes up U.S. renewable energy policy. These include subsidies like the renewable energy production tax credit ("PTC"), support regimes like the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act ("PURPA"), and mandates like state law renewable portfolio standards ("RPSs") and the federal renewable fuels standard ("RFS"). Together, these laws do not just comprise the body of U.S. renewable energy policy, they manifest its core features. U.S. renewable energy policy is, in its current form, tentative, cyclical, and often subordinate.

Keywords: renewable energy, U.S. energy policy, renewable portfolio standards, PURPA, production tax credit ("PTC")

JEL Classification: K10, K20, K23, K29, K32, Q20, Q28, Q38, Q40, Q41, Q42, Q48, L94, O31, O32

Suggested Citation

Davies, Lincoln L., Tracing U.S. Renewable Energy Policy (July 9, 2013). Environmental Law Reporter, Vol. 43, pp. 10320-10327, 2013, Available at SSRN:

Lincoln L. Davies (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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