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Energy at ELI: Greening Our National Energy Transformation

America’s energy economy is undergoing a set of profound shifts that are placing new demands on laws and policies. If current legal and institutional conditions are left alone, they will thwart the rapid adoption of cleaner energy and produce perverse environmental results from all forms of energy development, both old and new. ELI presses under-recognized, but key legal reforms that will green this energy transformation.

The nation’s energy portfolio is expanding to include larger investments in wind, solar, and tidal energy, as well as biofuels such as algae and fuel crops, presenting new conflicts and tradeoffs. At the same time, domestic exploitation of unconventional sources of natural gas, production of oil and gas from more difficult settings both onshore and offshore, and continued record-setting coal production using intensive methods, are producing new environmental conflicts. In the contest among new energy sources, law will have a great deal to say about winners and losers, subsidies and preferences — changing the shape of impacts on the nation’s communities, lands, and waters, for good or for ill. Concurrently, energy efficiency is reducing demand for energy and holds the potential to improve economic growth while reducing harmful environmental effects of all forms of energy production.

ELI’s recent and ongoing projects to green the energy transformation include: