Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2020


" New Deal 1933-1939, Environmental law, Climate change mitigation, Public welfare, Equity"


In February 2019, Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey introduced a "Green New Deal" Resolution in Congress, calling for a tenyear mobilization toward action on climate change, socioeconomic inequality, and other issues. A Green New Deal--evoking the language of FDR-erapolicy--envisions a transition to a green economy that is integrated with concern for the social and economic welfare of those who are most harmed by environmental degradation and those who are most likely to be displaced by the reinvention ofU.S. infrastructure and energy systems. This Article addresses the need for engaging with regulatory transition theory in order to assess the legal, policy design, and implementation challenges of a Green New Deal. Regulatory transition theory explains how economic, legal, and political pressures can lead to policies that are counterproductive, unjust, and inefficient. Key examples of this phenomenon are found throughout the core U.S. environmental-legal framework, which has been plagued by overly generous transition relief in the grandfathering of aging infrastructure and through other policies that differentiate between "new" and" existing" sources. This history provides important lessons for designing a Green New Deal around four principles: equity, efficacy, efficiency, and political coalition-building. Some solutions for transitions that can be effectively implemented may be intuitive but must overcome political economy challenges and legal barriers.


44 Vt. L. Rev. 723 (2020)