Climate and Energy Law and Policy

This course focuses on the complex interaction of U.S. climate law and U.S. energy law, two different fields that have historically been governed by separate and sometimes seemingly contradictory goals and imperatives. The difficult question at the heart of the course is whether the two fields can be reconciled: can we imagine a legal and regulatory regime that could address the critical challenge of climate change while also providing reliable and affordable energy in an equitable manner that is also consistent with national security goals? With that framing in mind, we will cover the following topics: the history of U.S. climate law and policy (including major legislative efforts such as the American Clean Energy and Security Act and the Inflation Reduction Act), significant federal climate rules (including greenhouse gas standards governing the power, auto, and oil and gas sectors) and important related Supreme Court decisions; the history of international climate agreements from the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change to the Paris Agreement; the foundations of energy law, including the Federal Power Act and the role of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the States in the production and transmission of electric power on the nations grids; the different regulatory regimes governing production of coal, oil and gas, and nuclear power; the transition to cleaner sources of energy including renewable energy and the opportunities and challenges the transition presents; the role of the oil and gas industry historically in climate politics and its potential role in the energy transition; the geopolitics of energy and the implications of the energy transition for U.S. national security; and the different strategies currently being pursued for advancing the energy transition including legislation, litigation, regulation, capital shifts, and activism. Over the course of the semester, we will be joined by several guests who will speak to these issues, including officials from past administrations and the Biden administration.