Pipelines & Power-Lines: Building the Energy Transport Future

49 Pages Posted: 17 May 2018 Last revised: 13 May 2020

See all articles by James W. Coleman

James W. Coleman

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Date Written: May 3, 2018


The United States is in the middle of three profound energy revolutions — with booming production of renewable power, natural gas, and oil. The country is replacing coal power with renewable and natural gas power, reducing pollution while saving consumers money. And it has dramatically cut its oil imports while becoming, for the first time in half a century, an important oil exporter. The U.S. is on the cusp of an energy transformation that will provide immense economic and environmental benefits.

This new energy economy will require massive investment in energy transport — especially power lines to bring wind and solar power to market and gas pipelines to back up these renewable sources. But increased interest from overlapping jurisdictions in energy transport approvals has resulted in delays and uncertainty that make private companies wary of long-term capital investments in new energy facilities. The drive for more careful and holistic environmental assessments of new energy facilities has also repeatedly delayed new infrastructure. And land-owners and property rights groups are increasingly asking the courts to curtail the use of eminent domain by pipeline and power-line companies.

This Article develops a unified scholarly and policy approach to these high-profile threats to energy transport investment. Although most often discussed in the context of controversial oil pipelines, these threats are actually a far greater danger to investment in cleaner power sources like wind, gas, and solar. At this pivotal moment, this Article describes how reforming energy infrastructure reviews can lower the cost of investment in a new energy economy while accommodating increased public interest in pipelines and power-lines. It proposes legislation to ensure a comprehensive, thorough, and unified approval process for energy transport projects.

Keywords: energy transport, carbon, climate, renewable power, pipelines, electricity transmission

JEL Classification: K23, K32, K20, K30, Q20, Q28, Q30, Q33, Q35, Q38, Q40, Q48, Q56, Q58

Suggested Citation

Coleman, James W., Pipelines & Power-Lines: Building the Energy Transport Future (May 3, 2018). 80 Ohio St. L.J. 263 (2019), SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 399, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3172652

James W. Coleman (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.smu.edu/Law/Faculty/Profiles/Coleman-James-W

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