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Energy laws govern the use and taxation of energy, both renewable and non-renewable. These laws are the primary authorities (such as caselaw, statutes, rules, regulations and edicts) related to energy. In contrast, energy policy refers to the policy and politics of energy.

In the twentieth century, energy law focused mostly on natural gas regulation, but was expanded to include other areas of energy regulation as well. It also includes the legal provision for oil, gasoline, and "extraction taxes."

International law



There is a growing academic interest in International energy law, including continuing legal education seminars, treatises, law reviews, and graduate courses.

Africa

Africa does not have a significant energy law.

Uganda has adopted a new nuclear power law, which it hopes "will boost technical cooperation between the country and the International Atomic Energy Agencymarker," according to "a senior agency official" from that African country.

Australia

Energy is big business in Australia.


Canada

Canadamarker has an extensive energy law, both through the confederation and the provinces, especially Albertamarker. These include:
  • Alternative Fuels Act ( 1995, c. 20 )
  • Cooperative Energy Act ( 1980-81-82-83, c. 108 )
  • Energy Administration Act ( R.S., 1985, c. E-6 )
  • Energy Monitoring Act ( R.S., 1985, c. E-8 )
  • Nuclear Energy Act ( R.S., 1985, c. A-16 )
  • Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act ( R.S., 1985, c. O-7 )
  • Canada Petroleum Resources Act ( 1985, c. 36 (2nd Supp.) )
  • National Energy Board Act ( R.S., 1985, c. N-7 )
  • Electricity and Gas Inspection Act ( R.S., 1985, c. E-4 )


There is some academic interest in the energy law of Canada, with looseleaf periodical services, monographs, and consultation with lawyers specializing in that practice, available.

The Supreme Court of Canadamarker has had issued some Canadian energy case law.

Canada's energy laws are so extensive and complicated in large part because of its government-owned energy resources:

Canada and the Quebecmarker province also own extensive hydroelectric dam facilities, which have generated not only power but controversy.

China

European Union (outside of UK)

Germany

Germanymarker's Renewable Energy Law mandates the use of renewable energy through its taxes and tariffs. It promotes the development of renewable energy sources via a system of feed-in tariffs. It regulates the amount of energy generated by the producer and the type of renwable energy source. It also creates an incentive to encourage technological advancements and costs.

The German government has abandoned "its planned phase-out of nuclear energy to help rein in surging electricity prices and protect the environment, according to proposals drawn up byan energy taskforce under Economy Minister Michael Glos." The German Green Party has opposed nuclear energy, as well as the market power of German utilities, claiming the "energy shortfall" has been artificially created.

There is significant academic interest in German energy law.

Lithuania

The nation of Lithuaniamarker has an energy law, Energetikos teisė.

Iraq

Technically, Iraqmarker has no energy law, but proposed legislation has been pending for two and a half years.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has some laws concerning energy, especially oil and gas law. Saudi Arabiamarker is the largest oil producer in the world and therefore its energy law has great influence over the world's overall energy supply.

Under the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia, all its oil and gas wealth belongs to the government: "All Allah's bestowed wealth, be it under the ground, on the surface or in national territorial waters, in the land or maritime domains under the state's control, are the property of the state as defined by law. The law defines means of exploiting, protecting, and developing such wealth in the interests of the state, its security and economy." Energy taxes are also specifically allowed; Article 20 of the basic law states, "Taxes and fees are to be imposed on a basis of justice and only when the need for them arises. Imposition, amendment, revocation and exemption is only permitted by law."

Two ministries of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia share the responsibility of the energy sector: the Ministry of Oil and the Ministry of Water and Electricity. The country's laws have also established other agencies that have some legal powers, but are not strictly regulatory. These include Saudi Aramco, originally a joint venture between the Kingdom and the California-Arabian Standard Oil, but now a wholly-owned by the Kingdom, and Saudi Consolidated Electricity Companies (SCECOs).

Russia

United Kingdom

United States

This section concerns the law of the United States, as well as the states that are the most populous or largest producers of energy.

In the United Statesmarker, energy is regulated extensively through the United States Department of Energy, as well as state secretaries of state or corporation commissions.

Every state, the Federal government, and the District of Columbiamarker collect some motor vehicle excise taxes. Specifically, these are excise taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel, and gasohol. While many states in the western U.S.A. rely to a great deal on "extraction taxes" for revenue, most states get a relatively small amount of their revenue from such sources.

The practice of energy law has been the domain of law firms working on behalf of utility companies, rather than legal scholars or other legal actors (such as private lawyers and paralegals), especially in Texasmarker, but this is changing. Some officials from energy agencies may take jobs in the utilities or other companies they regulate, such as the former FERC chairman did in 2008.

The American Bar Association (ABA) has a Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, which is a "forum for lawyers working in areas related to environmental law, natural resources law, and energy law." The ABA offers fellowships to law students and recent graduates of law schools, for work in "environmental, energy or resources law."

Common law

Under the common law, persons who owned real property owned "from the depths to the heavens".

Therefore, real estate traditionally has included all rights to water, oil, gas, and other minerals underground. The United States Supreme Courtmarker has held that "this doctrine has no place in the modern world," at least as far as air rights are concerned, but it remains as a source of law to this day, or "fundamental to property rights in land."

An easement or license to drill for oil, gas, or minerals generally runs with the land, and thus is an appurtenant easement. However, a utility easement generally runs with the owner of the easement, rather than running with the land, and as such, is an example of an easement in gross.

Federal laws

Until the 1920s, "the federal government did not play an active role in the energy industries," due to "the widespread belief in the unlimited supply of energy." The first US law was the Federal Power Act of 1920 (later amended in 1935 and 1986). The Manhattan Project of the 1940s "initiated the era of nuclear regulation." In 1946, the Atomic Energy Act was passed.

The Department of Energy and its constituent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) were created in 1977, through the Department of Energy Organization Act. The stated purposes of these "federal energy laws and regulations is to provide affordable energy by sustaining competitive markets, while protecting the economic, environmental, and security interests of the United States." The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates the use of nuclear power and its uses as a defense weaponry.

Other statutes are the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, the Energy Security Act,, the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act, and the Energy Policy Act of 1992 Most of these laws are codified at U.S. Code, Title 16, Chapter 12 - Federal regulation and development of power. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 also effects energy trading companies.

As of January 1, 2008, the Federal excise tax is 18.3 cent per gallon on gasoline, 24.3 cents per gallon on diesel, and 13 cents per gallon on gasohol.

Energy Policy Act of 2005

The most recent major law is the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was an attempt to combat growing energy problems, changed the energy policy of the United States by providing tax incentives and loan guarantees for energy production of various types.
 There were various criticisms of the Act. One of the most controversial provisions of that Act was to change daylight saving time by four to five weeks, depending upon the year; some scholars have questioned whether daylight saving results in a net energy savings, and it creates the Year 2007 problem. It also directs a study for the development of oil shale and tar sands resources on public lands especially in Coloradomarker, Utahmarker, and Wyomingmarker. The Act further sets Federal reliability standards regulating the electrical grid (done in response to the Blackout of 2003). There was also criticism of what was not included: the bill did not include provisions for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refugemarker (ANWR) even though some Republicans claim "access to the abundant oil reserves in ANWR would strengthen America's energy independence without harming the environment." There are a number of tax credits in the Act, including the Nonbusiness Energy Property Tax Credit.


Developments 2007 to present

U.S. oil production (crude oil only) and Hubbert's high estimate (a multi-field projection)
Two recent Federal laws are the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007.

There has been much debate and discussion about the use of Federal laws to regulate energy. In fact, a whole area of jurisprudence, Law and economics, has developed from this debate. Today, this is more relevant than ever:

As the USA's oil runs out, and the nation is in an economic crisis, even more laws are likely in the near future. The Biomass Research and Development Board is expected to release a report in late 2008 about biomass as fuel. In August 2008, it was revealed that oil speculators had increased the volatility of the price of oil; Congressman John Dingell criticized the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for failing to scrutinize oil futures traders, in particular the Swissmarker company Vitol.

On June 22, 2008, Obama proposed the repeal of the Enron loophole as a means to curb speculation on skyrocketing oil prices.

In October 2008, as the Democratic Party approached victory in the 2008 elections, they remained divided on energy policy, thus a consensus was not expected in energy law. President Barack Obama's new Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, has no expertise in law, but his younger brother, Morgan Chu, is a partner and the former Co-Managing Partner at Irell & Manella LLP, a law firm.

The Department of Energy (DOE) will, by administrative measures, reduce the Hanford nuclear reservationmarker (originally 586 square miles) to 10 square miles. Much of the remaining area will go to the 300-square-mile Hanford Reach National Monumentmarker.

There are a number of proposed tax credits for energy use, including the Renewable Energy 401 Tax Credit.

In October 2009, Secretary Chu announced a new program, Arpa-e, which will fund grants authorized under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Loans and investments into green energy technology is a significant part of ARRA


As part of the $787 Billion stimulus package or "ARRA" (technically the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009),



US law now allows rebates for energy efficient products and for weatherization. Energy law and policy is significantly effected by this new law.

Official seal of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.


Alaska law

Alaska oil field production decline curve.
Alaska oil production peaked in 1988 and has declined 65% thereafter
Alaskamarker has vast energy resources:
  • Major oil and gas reserves are found in the Prudhoe Baymarker area of the Alaska North Slope (ANS) and Cook Inletmarker basins. According to the Energy Information Administration, Alaska ranks second in the nationmarker in crude oil production, accounting for 1/5 (20%) of United States oil production, Prudhoe Bay alone accounting for 8% of the United States domestic oil production.
  • The Trans-Alaska Pipelinemarker pumps up to of crude oil per day, more than any other crude oil pipeline in the United States.
  • Substantial coal deposits are found in Alaska’s bituminous, sub-bituminous, and lignite coal basins. The United States Geological Survey estimates that there are of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas from natural gas hydrates on the Alaskan North Slope.
  • Alaska also offers some of the highest hydroelectric power potential in the country from its numerous rivers, and large swaths of the Alaskan coastline offer wind and geothermal energy potential as well. As of 2001, the state's Energy Plan stated that, although wind and hydroelectric power are abundant, with low-cost electric interties) they were judged uneconomical.


Likewise, Alaska receives a huge amount of its state revenues from extraction taxes: a full 68 % of all revenue, much more than any state (only Wyomingmarker coming close). Its dependence on petroleum revenues and federal subsidies allows it to have the lowest individual tax burden in the United States.

The state created the Alaska Permanent Fund from this "golden egg", which is owned and managed by the state, and "created by a constitutional amendment":

The contitutional provisions are found at Alaska Constitution Article IX, Section 15. Statutes regulate how the Fund is to be invested, as well as how the income is to be disbursed. Regulations state additional details regarding control of the Fund.

California law

The largest state in the United States, Californiamarker, has gone through a series of energy crises, and has reacted with several laws concerning energy. The California Energy Code, or Title 24 of the California Code, also titled "The Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings", were established in 1978 in response to a legislative mandate to reduce California's energy consumption. The standards are updated periodically to allow consideration and possible incorporation of new energy efficiency technologies and methods, such as the Programmable Communicating Thermostat.

California assesses an excise tax with the same basic rate of 18 cents per gallon on gasoline, diesel fuel, and gasohol. The state collects a relatively small 6.6 percent of its revenue from extraction and related taxes.

New Mexico law

As a major energy producer, New Mexicomarker has government offices related to energy, including the Energy Conservation and Management Division, which is part of the state's Energy, Minerals and Natrural Resources Department. All of the major laws impacting energy are available from the Division's website. These include links to all of the state's statutes and related government websites, Federal and State regulations, and Executive order.

New Mexico has enacted a number of new laws related to energy, including to create a New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority and to increase its renewable portfolio standards. According to one law firm's summary of President Obama's Economic Recovery Package, the state stands to gain much from the new administration, because "New Mexico leaders and laboratories are at the forefront of energy policy." For example, former University of New Mexico Law School professor Suedeen G. Kelly is a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The state collects an effective rate of 18.875 cent per gallon tax on gasoline and gasohol, and 22.875 cents per gallon on diesel. Like many western states, it collects significant revenue from extraction taxes—20.9 percent of its overall sources.

The City of Albuquerquemarker passed an ordinance to regulate "efficiency standards for heating and cooling equipment," which was struck down by the U.S. District Court as violating the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The town board of Taos passed a "strict new new building code" in 2009 that mandated energy savings:
  The town debated the proposed Ordinance 08-16, High Performance Building Ordinance, starting in October 2008, postponed it for legal review, debated it in February 2009, and passed it in March 2009.


The New Mexico Gas Company offers an Energy Star Home Rebate.

In October 2009, Governor Bill Richardson announced 21 grants for energy projects that are being funded by $8 Million in ARRA funds.

New York law

New Yorkmarker has an Energy Law. Under New York law, "energy" and "energy resources" are defined as:

The chief regulator is the "Commissioner" or "president" of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (also called NYSERDA). The board of directors of NYSERDA includes—as a matter of law -- several utility insiders, as well as ex officio commissioners. Vincent DeIorio, a lawyer, is chairman of the board, and Robert Callender has been acting President and CEO since Paul Tonko resigned to run for Congress in 2008. NYSERDA was created as a public benefit corporation under NY law.

In addition to Energy Law, the state has a variety of laws regulating and taxing energy, and its courts have issued significant case law concerning energy taxes.

Under New York law, both the New York Attorney General or a district attorney may prosecute alleged polluters who make oil spills. The state has enacted a number of recent laws to control carbon emissions.

The state collects an effective rate of 24.4 cent per gallon tax on gasoline and gasohol, and 22.65 cents per gallon on diesel. New York collects one of the smallest amounts of revenue from extraction taxes of any state—only 5.8 percent of its overall sources.

New York has law concerning energy from a wide variety of sources; please consult the main article for more information.

Texas law

Texas oil field production decline curve.
Texasmarker energy law remains the domain of a few law firms that represent utilities and independent providers. Oil, gas, and other energy resources are actually regulated by the powerful Texas Railroad Commission. It is the oldest such regulatory agency, having been created in 1891. It "oversee[s] the Texas oil and gas industry, gas utilities, pipeline safety, safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry, and the surface mining of coal."

Vermont law

The state of Vermontmarker has a comprehensive law concerning energy and siting, Act 250. The state's utilities are regulated by a quasi-judicial board, the Vermont Public Service Board.

Wyoming law

Wyomingmarker is the top coal producer of the 50 states in the United Statesmarker, and has significant oil and gas reserves, so its government and laws would naturally reflect an interest in energy production, especially fossil fuels. The Wyomingmarker Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regulates many aspects of oil, coal, and gas development in this resource-rich state. There is an annual state Gas Fair. The University of Wyomingmarker is well-known for its research on energy development. The University sponsored a symposium on coal gasification in 2007.

Wyoming assesses an excise tax with the same rate of 14 cents per gallon on gasoline, diesel fuel, and gasohol. The state collects the largest percentage—46 percent of its revenue—from extraction and related taxes, the second highest of the states, surpassed only by Alaska.

Other new state laws

As the nuclear power industry revives, Floridamarker and South Carolinamarker have instituted new utility fees to finance planned nuclear reactors.

Indianamarker has a new law "that allows the state's finance authority to negotiate long-term contracts to buy and sell synthetic natural gas from a planned southern Indiana coal-gasification plant."

Massachusettsmarker has an energy law. Governor Deval Patrick pushed for "clean energy initiatives" in the 2008 legislative session, calling it "one of the most productive in a long, long time."

New Hampshiremarker passed a new energy law, signed by Governor John Lynch, which "provides guidelines for residential wind energy systems.... such as height, noise, setbacks and aesthetics and outlines a process for input from neighbors." This was found necessary because a University of New Hampshiremarker student, Laura Carpenter, found that "most communities had no ordinances or zoning rules that specifically address small residential wind turbines."

Ohiomarker has passed a new energy law, and is requiring utilities to meet regulatory goals for conservation.

See also



General energy topics



Specific laws and policies



Academic think-tanks and associations



Renewable and alternative energy sources



Awards and standards



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External links



Further reading

  • Klause Bosselmann, The Principle of Sustainability (Burlington, VT: Ashland 2008) ISBN 978-0-7546-7355-2.



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