Federal climate change policy in the United States has fallen woefully short of what is necessary to achieve the temperature goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. In the absence of meaningful federal policy, many states have pursued clean energy policies ranging from Renewable Portfolio Standards to Zero Emission Credits. The limits of these state policies have become apparent due to court challenges and recent decisions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This Note argues that a National Clean Energy Standard (NCES) is critical to harmonize state clean energy policies while also providing them with legal certainty.
Recent studies have shown that even with rapid deployment of clean energy resources, Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) will be necessary to keep global greenhouse gas emissions within safe levels. NETs represent a broad range of technologies many of which are yet to achieve technical viability, let alone commercial maturity. This Note puts forward an NCES framework that can effectively incorporate NETs while giving states the flexibility to choose between clean energy and NETs investments to achieve their NCES obligations.