Skip Navigation

Website Sections

Institute for Energy and the Environment

Photo of electrical wires with quote from Michael Dworkin.


Welcome from Professor Michael Dworkin, Director

Energy and the environment go hand in hand. An enormous proportion of the earth’s environmental issues arise out of the use of energy. If you care about the environment, energy policy is the single most important influence; and if you care about energy, environmental facts are the most important constraint. The discussion covers a wide spectrum of disciplines—including law, science, engineering, finance, and economics. We hope that graduates of the institute’s energy program will continue their rigorous research and analysis well after their time with us in South Royalton, making an impact felt throughout the new century.

The Institute for Energy and the Environment is modeled on the fundamentals of a successful public policy consulting firm—committed to delivering vital services that are on point and timely. I select the research associates from top students in the energy and environmental programs at Vermont Law School—an institution with a longstanding general reputation for advancing environmental law and policy.

As you browse through our portion of the Vermont Law School website, please bear in mind how energy policy is increasingly driven by the imperative of preserving our environment, and how dramatic increases in society’s demand for energy have had environmental effects. Please reflect on the role of law and policy in balancing the competing interests of energy use and environmental quality. Could the Institute help you, your organization, or your enterprise? Think about the skills and knowledge that the graduates of the research team can bring to you as an employer. Most of all, keep in mind that as energy consumers, the actions we take today will create tomorrow’s reality.

Energy resource conflicts tend to be resolved with laws or wars. I prefer laws.

Michael Dworkin
Director and Professor of Law

To learn more about what the Institute for Energy and the Environment has worked on over the past year and to find out where our past researchers are working today please download our 2011-2012 Annual Report at the link below.

2011-2012 Institute for Energy and the Environmental Annual Report


Some further ideas to consider

Energy policy is our world's most important environmental issue, and environmental constraints may be the energy sector's most important challenge. Almost a quarter of the world’s population lives without electricity, another third lives with a pittance, and 600 million revel in abundance. Demand is increasing at a staggering rate as developing nations begin to realize electricity’s potential. Electrification correlates highly with good nutrition, literacy, population stability, women's education and paid employment, life expectancy, and infant survival. National security depends upon it. Electrification reduces carbon-intensity and potentially reduces carbon emissions.

Yet, electricity generation is the world's largest source of pollution and environmental degradation, particularly sulfur dioxide, mercury, fine particulate, mineral tailings, radioactive waste, and water withdrawal. Carbon emissions are driving climate change to unprecedented levels and huge risks. America's legal system will critically affect how humanity meets the challenge of energy issues.

The Institute for Energy and the Environment provides an accessible resource on contemporary energy law and policy. The Institute distributes scholarly, technical and practical publications; provides forums and conferences for professional education and issue development; and serves as a center for graduate research on energy issues, with an environmental awareness. To achieve this goal, the Institute devotes specific attention to:

  • Agriculture Energy Outreach
  • Energy Security and Justice
  • Overcoming Legal Barriers to the Integration of Renewable Energy Technologies
  • Resource Extraction Policy
  • Regulatory and Policy Best Practices for Implementing Smart Grid Programs
  • Ensuring Effective Governance and Accountability in Energy Institutions