Climate and Energy Law Symposium

Law students at the 2014 Climate and Energy Law SymposiumEach year the University of San Diego School of Law hosts the Climate and Energy Law Symposium. Legal and policy experts from across the country attend the event, including practicing attorneys, policy makers, and academic experts.

The symposium is co-hosted by the Energy Policy Initiatives Center and the San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law.

The Changing Landscape of Energy and Climate Policy in the West 

November 4, 2016

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The theme of our 2016 Climate & Energy Law Symposium is “The Changing Landscape of Energy and Climate Policy in the West.” Recent developments at the federal and state levels are changing the energy and climate policy landscape in the U.S., with particular implications for the West. The Supreme Court’s decision to stay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) has put on hold the prospect of a single federal unifying climate policy in the electricity sector. Other rulings related to distributed energy (e.g. FERC 745) resources and renewable portfolio standards (e.g., Colorado’s renewable portfolio standard) have obscured the line between state and federal authority. Several states, including California, Washington, Hawaii, and Oregon have adopted aggressive climate and energy policies, including renewable portfolio standards and low-carbon fuel standards, while others have not taken these steps. Increasing amounts of renewable energy have created challenges for grid operators.   

At the University of San Diego’s Eighth Annual Climate & Energy Law Symposium, academic and policy experts will analyze and assess several aspects of this complex issue.

  • Regional Expansion of the California ISO - California’s Independent Operator (CAISO) has developed an Energy Imbalance Market to address the issue of oversupply during certain times of the day and year. The CAISO is also considering expanding beyond California’s borders. Such developments raise interesting questions around federal and state jurisdiction and governance. Are there lessons learned from other multistate RTOs that might apply to CAISO expansion? What would the implications be for the energy and climate policies of states that join the expanded ISO?
  • Regional Climate and Energy Policy Approaches – In the absence of US EPA’s CPP are state policies sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the West and beyond? Or is another approach necessary to link state policies similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative among Northeastern states? Is California’s Cap and Trade program a foundation for a broader Western climate policy?
  • State Approaches to Climate and Energy Policy in the West – Several states already have comprehensive policies to reduce emissions. What tensions exist between state and federal jurisdiction when it comes to these policies? What innovative policies are being adopted or considered around the western U.S.? What are the similarities and differences in how states have approached important policy areas, such as net energy metering?


Energy Policy Initiatives Center
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: (619) 260-4589
Fax: (619) 260-4753