The document is an amicus brief filed by NRDC in the Southern District of New York on 12/10/2016. It supports New York State in defending against a legal challenge that could have an impact on the right of states to adopt policies to promote clean energy.
Several fossil fuel power companies and related trade associations filed a lawsuit in October challenging a controversial part of the state’s Clean Energy Standard, which included a groundbreaking 50 x 30 renewables program, but also a more contentious Zero Emissions Credit (ZEC) program to help keep several nuclear plants alive in order to preserve their low-carbon emissions. The fossil generators challenged only the ZEC program, arguing that under a law called the Federal Power Act, New York State does not have the authority to make decisions about the state’s electricity mix and that such decisions must be made instead by a federal agency – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). NRDC doesn’t support the ZEC program, but we wholeheartedly disagree with this legal claim. Although their lawsuit is aimed only at the ZEC program, the fossil fuel generators’ argument, if successful, could create uncertainty for scores of state renewable energy policies in states across the country. The brief explains why New York’s ZEC program falls within this traditional state authority and is not invalidated by the Federal Power Act.