Policy Documents

Putting Wind on Trial

David Schnare –
April 4, 2011


Why would a putative environmental law center choose to put wind on trial? As director of the law center (the American Tradition Institute Environmental Law Center) prosecuting the State of Colorado, arguing that the State’s renewable energy mandates, ostensibly requiring wind energy, are unconstitutional, I have been asked this question by colleagues, by the news media, and by family members.

So, why did we do it? We are putting wind on trial because we are an environmental law center. We are committed to using the law to promote environmental quality. Assuredly, we have other purposes too. For example, we advocate economic liberty – a traditional American value. But in this case, the only value we need to have as a public interest law center is an interest in the environment.

And why publish this essay in a Virginia policy publication when, after all, we are suing Colorado? In part, because while 31 states have mandatory renewable energy standards, 30 of which we believe are unconstitutional, the rest of the states, including Virginia, have voluntary standards that the public has been led to believe make sense. Because Virginia seems to be going down the "all of the above, including wind energy" path, Virginians also need to understand how Colorado made its mistakes – in part to make sure Virginia doesn’t do so as well. And, I live in Virginia, so I admit, it’s personal to me.

Hard facts have emerged from the noise of environmental activism, from the hush of subsidy-driven self-interested energy company green-washing and from the increasingly grumpy offices of the state public utility commissions.