Heat Waves and a Public-Private Partnership in Alaska

31 Pages Posted: 25 May 2023

See all articles by Karen Sandrik

Karen Sandrik

Willamette University - College of Law

Sarah Matsumoto

University of Colorado Law School

Date Written: December 31, 2022


The recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act represents the largest single step that Congress has taken to combat harms from climate change. In its over $360 billion commitment, the Act incentivizes clean energy development and generation, includes methods to directly lower residential utility bills and increase home efficiency, promotes cleaner transportation and agricultural practices, and funds states’ and cities’ efforts to meet their individual climate goals. While many environmental organizations applauded the Act’s passage, some—even simultaneously—expressed concern about its tradeoffs: the Act continues to invest in fossil fuels, subsidizing pipeline construction and guaranteeing new oil and gas leases, specifically expanding leasing in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

Given the scope and magnitude of climate change, the need for legal and policy action will only accelerate. Some efforts may be large-scale and sweeping in nature, like the Inflation Reduction Act, while others may be more confined and issue-specific. Where the focus is on a narrower aspect of the problem, or on a particular localized need, opportunity exists for collaboration between public and private entities to provide solutions. So-called “public private partnerships” have long existed in this space, yet there are few case studies analyzing the effectiveness of such partnerships.

This Article contributes to the conversation by providing one case study that demonstrates a method for assessing public-private partnerships in the context of climate change. Building on themes and principles from contract law and environmental justice literature, the Article identifies key characteristics of successful public-private partnerships and explains how participants in these partnerships could further environmental justice while also meeting partnership goals. The Article then applies its suggested framework to an existing public-private partnership in Alaska and describes how participants in these partnerships might want to structure, implement, and assess their success.

Keywords: public-private partnership, climate change, heatwave, environmental justice, Alaska

Suggested Citation

Sandrik, Karen and Matsumoto, Sarah, Heat Waves and a Public-Private Partnership in Alaska (December 31, 2022). Alaska Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4404378

Karen Sandrik

Willamette University - College of Law ( email )

245 Winter St. SE
Salem, OR 97301
United States

Sarah Matsumoto (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

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