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Mark Cooper: Trump Administration Policy Is Central Challenge to Transformation of Electricity System

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


A new book by leading economic analyst Mark Cooper outlines how the transformation of the electricity system can affordably and equitably achieve economic growth and the slowing of climate change. The key driver preventing progress, the book posits, is the Trump administration.

In a statement announcing the release of "The Political Economy of Electricity: Progressive Capitalism and the Struggle to Build a Sustainable Electric Power Sector" (Praeger, April 2017), Cooper said, "Thanks to the dramatic decline in the cost of renewable and distributed technologies and the vastness of the resource base, we can now meet the need for electricity of billions of people so they can thrive in a 21st-century economy and decarbonize the transportation and industrial sectors."

"The Political Economy of Electricity" analyzes the economics and technology trends involved in the dilemma of decarbonization, and addresses why aggressive policy is required in a capitalist political economy to create a sea change away from fossil fuels.

"Trump administration policy is spearheading a fossil fuel and nuclear war against the future," said Cooper, senior research fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE) at Vermont Law School. "These policies seek to roll back fuel economy and appliance efficiency standards, repeal the Clean Power Plan, undermine other policies that promote renewable resources, and even ban the use of a social cost of carbon in any policy analysis. Combined with policies to promote the production of fossil fuels, this has become the central challenge to the transformation of the electricity system."

Renewable and distributed resources are now the least-cost sources of power. However, a 21st-century electricity system requires a physical and institutional infrastructure that supports it functioning and flowering. Cooper said that although a new approach to grid management will cost no more than the old system, resources must be directed away from a system based on rigid central station generation and toward a new flexible and dynamic management structure.

"The Political Economy of Electricity" is available in print and as an eBook. For more information, visit ABC-CLIO.

The Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School provides accessible resources on contemporary energy law and policy and is modeled on the fundamentals of a successful public policy consulting firm. The IEE 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 environmental awareness. IEE research associates are selected from students in the energy and environmental programs at Vermont Law School, top-ranked in the nation for environmental law. For more information about the IEE, visit


Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation's largest and deepest environmental law program. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; three Master's Degrees—Master of Environmental Law and Policy, Master of Energy Regulation and Law, and Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy; and four post-JD degrees —LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, LLM in Environmental Law, and LLM in Food and Agriculture Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, South Royalton Legal Clinic, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Energy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic, and Center for Applied Human Rights. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.​​