NRDC: States Have the Legal Authority to Lead on Clean Energy

NRDC filed a “friend of the court” brief on December 9th to support New York State in defending against a legal challenge that could have an impact on the right of New York and other states to adopt policies to promote clean energy.

Several fossil fuel power companies and related trade associations filed a lawsuit in October challenging a controversial part of the state’s groundbreaking new Clean Energy Standard: the contentious Zero Emissions Credit (ZEC) program to help keep several nuclear plants alive in order to preserve their low-carbon emissions.

They argue that under a federal law called the Federal Power Act, New York State does not have the authority to make decisions about the state’s electricity mix and that such decisions must be made instead by a federal agency—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). NRDC doesn’t support the ZEC program, but we wholeheartedly disagree with this legal claim. Although their lawsuit is aimed only at the ZEC program, the fossil fuel generators’ argument, if successful, could create uncertainty for scores of state renewable energy policies in states across the country. With President-elect Trump considering climate skeptics to head key federal agencies, we need to make sure that states like New York can continue to lead on clean energy and climate.

The background

Thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership, New York has recently made quantum leaps forward on climate and clean energy policy. A key part of this progress is the state’s Clean Energy Standard, adopted by the state’s Public Service Commission in August, which requires that 50 percent of the electricity consumed in the state come from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2030. New Yorkers have expressed resounding support for that “50 by ’30” renewables goal.

Read more (NRDC)