To fight the climate emergency and extinction crisis, we must revolutionize our world to be entirely powered by clean, renewable, wildlife-friendly and equitable energy. The Center wages innovative legal and grassroots campaigns to drive this urgent transition for energy justice.

ABOUT THE ENERGY JUSTICE PROGRAM

The climate emergency is the single greatest threat we've ever faced — not only to human society but to the Earth's web of life.

Our energy system is broken. While the climate and extinction crises drive our planet toward a point of no return, electric utilities and governments continue to burn dirty fossil fuels and obstruct the urgently needed transition to clean and renewable energy. It’s not enough that our energy future be technologically clean and renewable, either: It must also be just. It needs to protect wildlife and empower human communities that have borne the brunt of dirty pollution and a centralized monopoly on power. Low-wealth communities and Black, Indigenous and other communities of color bear a disproportionate burden from the harms of our broken energy system. This includes higher exposure to fossil fuel pollution and greater vulnerability to power shutoffs and climate disasters.

Through our campaigns to drive this vital transition for energy justice, the Center is challenging the status quo — fighting utility corruption and punching back against blatant industry attacks on solar and other clean energies. We advocate for an anti-racist energy future by working for the deployment of democratic community power and distributed and wildlife-friendly clean energy. We are seizing this once-in-a-generation opportunity to design a new system of power that’s accountable to all of the people and healthy for the planet.

Specifically, the Energy Justice Program:

• Pursues lawsuits, submits administrative petitions and intervenes in regulatory proceedings to combat utility corruption and the obstruction of clean energy and other distributed resources;
• Organizes and mobilizes communities to advance distributed and community solar programs and hold utility regulators accountable;
• Advocates for, and crafts, strong energy justice policies and regulations on state, federal and international levels.  

HOW WE DO IT

• Strategic, creative litigation
• Mobilization of people power and movement building
• Visionary, effective policy advocacy
• Innovative media campaigns to educate and influence public opinion

MILESTONES

The Center's Energy Justice program has:

  • Petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to help stop the utility companies it oversees from using ratepayer dollars to finance anti-environment trade groups, citing the violation of ratepayers’ First Amendment rights.
  • In October 2021 the Center released a startling report that highlights how just 16 electric utilities received $1.25 billion in pandemic bailouts while disconnecting households nearly 1 million times. With money spent towards executive pay and dividends many could have bailed out their customers 500 times over.
  • Drafted a congressional resolution introduced by U.S. Representatives Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush that would transform the nation’s largely private energy system into a publicly owned and governed network that would employ 100% renewable energy by 2030 and ban utility shutoffs.
  • Spearheaded an effort by over 830 energy and racial-justice organizations to demand a federal moratorium on utility shutoffs in the pandemic, including pushing for Sen. Merkley’s and Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s Maintaining Access to Essential Services Act, which would provide nearly $40 billion to help wipe away debt for household water, power and broadband across the country.
  • Pioneered a call for the largest public utility in the country, the Tennessee Valley Authority, to close the chapter on fossil fuels and lead the way to a just energy future by influencing the appointment of board members, petitioning against TVA’s practice of giving millions of ratepayer dollars to anti-environmental advocacy groups, and calling on the Department of Energy to map out how TVA could achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030.
  • Sued TVA for stifling distributed solar energy development in its vast territory.
  • Legally intervened to oppose the request of Duke Energy, the nation’s largest greenhouse gas-polluting utility, for a rate hike in North Carolina that fails to address the climate emergency.
  • Participated in an ongoing legal battle over an Arizona monopoly utility’s effort to stifle solar competition in violation of antitrust law.
  • Co-launched the Energy Justice North Carolina coalition, which is committed to ending the monopoly of Duke Energy and hastening a just and clean energy transition through community mobilization.
  • Launched an innovative Wild Energy research partnership with the University of California Davis to advance a sustainable energy future for wildlife and wild places.
  • Published essential policy materials to hasten the just energy transition, including a community solar toolkit.
  • Opposed the Trump administration’s tariffs on imported solar cells.
  • In solidarity with unions representing 50 million workers, sued the Trump administration to invoke the Defense Production Act to make lifesaving PPE for essential and frontline workers.
Banner photo courtesy Argonne National Laboratory/Flickr; horned lizard photo by Brad Smith/Flickr; electricity meter photo by DonJinTX/Flickr