Why the U.S. Does Not Have a Renewable Energy Policy

E Donald Elliott, Yale Law School


There is a large gap between the percentage of electricity generated from renewable sources in the U.S. and EU. This paper argues the reasons are not just a failure of policy in the U.S. but also matters of deep political structure and culture. Federalism, separation of powers, changing policies with frequent changes of governing political parties, free market ideology, and popular expectations of cheap energy born of large historic supplies of fossil fuels are all discussed. The author then mounts a "half-hearted and partial" defense of the U.S. approach in terms of the maxmin strategy in game theory and portfolio theory in economics.