Judge Shuts Down Attack On Colorado’s Ambitious Clean Energy Law
Colorado’s ambitious renewable energy standard will remain in place thanks to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which on Monday shielded the law from a legal attack by a right-wing litigation group.
Writing for a three-judge panel, U.S. Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch affirmed that the clean energy law does not violate the U.S. Constitution, as the plaintiff Energy and Environment Legal Institute had argued. E&E Legal, formerly called the American Tradition Institute, is a nonprofit that advocates a “free-market approach” to environmentalism. It is the same entity that launched a high-profile lawsuit against climate scientist Michael Mann seeking to view his email communications, an effort which ultimately failed.
The case over Colorado’s renewable energy law was E&E Legal’s second most high-profile case. The group launched the lawsuit back in 2011, arguing that the clean energy standard — which requires utilities to get 30 percent of the electricity they sell to Colorado customers from renewable sources — violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
More specifically, the group said that the law unfairly harmed out-of-state businesses. Colorado relies on other states to get a good portion of its electricity, the group argued, and therefore out-of-state coal producers would be disproportionately harmed.
Judge Gorsuch disagreed, saying that while out-of-state coal producers would likely be hurt, it wasn’t disproportionate. Indeed, financial harm to fossil fuel companies would likely be equal across the board.