David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School

J.B. Ruhl

Interviewer: Jim Rossi, Interview date: February 19, 2020 Keywords: Green New Deal, Environmental Law

“Green energy isn’t necessarily environmentally neutral. It’s green in that it reduces carbon emissions. [But] it takes up space, it takes up habitat. The minerals needed to build wind turbines and solar panels require mining rare earth minerals. Electric transmission lines needed to connect new infrastructure to the grid cut through habitats and neighborhoods. [These] engage existing environmental laws.”

“Cape Wind became a permitting quagmire. These permits allow affected interests to intervene and challenge approvals … They just got ground down by endless litigation. … The project is essentially dead.”

“We think that we have to come up with a new way … of thinking about how, when we identify a project like [wind and solar] facilities, is there a new way to facilitate their siting and also be attentive to Green New Deal social justice goals?  That’s the question we are posing. … We have to come up with a new way of facilitating this … green infrastructure.”

J.B. Ruhl is the David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law, the Director of Program on Law and Innovation, and the Co-director f the Energy, Environment and Land Use Program at Vanderbilt University Law School.  His research and teaching focuses on environmental, natural resources and property law.


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