Green Harms of Green Projects

John Copeland Nagle


This article describes the recent development of renewable energy to examine environmental law’s three contrasting approaches to the green harms of green projects. Sometimes the law allows the green benefit regardless of the green harm. Sometimes the law prohibits the green harm regardless of the green benefit. And sometimes the law allows a balancing of all of the harms and benefits, green or not. Given these options, I argue that the law should not ignore or understate green harms even if they are caused by green projects. There are some types of green harms that no benefit can justify. But if we decide that the benefits of a green project are so significant that we should tolerate its green harm, then we should also be willing to tolerate environmental harms from other projects that produce different kinds of benefits.