Opposition to Renewable Energy Facilities in the United States: June 2024 Edition

By Matthew Eisenson, Jacob Elkin, Harmukh Singh, and Noah Schaffir

Achieving lower carbon emissions in the United States will require developing a massive number renewable energy facilities at an unprecedented scale and pace. Although many renewable energy facilities are sited without any problem, local opposition often arises. This report updates and considerably expands three previous Sabin Center reports, published in September 2021, March 2022, and May 2023, which document local and state restrictions against, and opposition to, siting renewable energy projects, as well as energy storage and transmission projects that are closely tied to renewable energy generation. The time period covered by this report ranges from as early as 1995 to December 31, 2023. For purposes of this report, the authors do not make normative judgments as to the legal merits of individual cases or the policy preferences reflected in local opponents’ advocacy, nor as to where any one facility should or should not be sited. Nonetheless, the volume and nature of the restrictions and controversies catalogued in this report demonstrate that local opposition to renewable energy facilities is widespread and growing and that it represents a potentially significant impediment to achievement of climate goals.

The report finds that local and state restrictions, as well as controversies over individual projects, are numerous and widespread. In nearly every state, local governments have enacted laws and regulations to block or restrict renewable energy facilities, or project opponents have succeeded in forcing the delay or cancellation of particular projects, or both have occurred. This edition identifies at least 395 local restrictions across 41 states, in addition to 19 state-level restrictions, that are so severe that they could have the effect of blocking a renewable energy project. This edition also identifies 378 renewable energy projects that have encountered significant opposition in 47 states. The 395 local restrictions, 19 state-level restrictions, and 378 contested projects catalogued in this report represent a major increase over the totals in the May 2023 edition.

Read the report Opposition to Renewable Energy Facilities in the United States: June 2024 Edition, in Columbia Law School's Scholarship Archive.