What Happens When the Green New Deal Meets the Old Green Laws?

30 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2020 Last revised: 18 May 2020

See all articles by J. B. Ruhl

J. B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt University - Law School

James E. Salzman

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: February 4, 2020

Abstract

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 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.

Keywords: Green New Deal, environmental law, renewable energy, wind power, decarbonization

Suggested Citation

Ruhl, J. B. and Salzman, James E., What Happens When the Green New Deal Meets the Old Green Laws? (February 4, 2020). 44 Vermont Law Review 693 (2020), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3531895

J. B. Ruhl (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

James E. Salzman

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management ( email )

4670 Physical Sciences North
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131
United States

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

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