UH Law Center Spring 2019 External Speaker Series: Environmental law researcher encourages increased citizen engagement to help with decarbonization

Shelley Welton of the University of South Carolina School of Law addresses University of Houston Law Center students and faculty during a presentation in the Hendricks Heritage Room.

Shelley Welton of the University of South Carolina School of Law addresses University of Houston Law Center students and faculty during a presentation in the Hendricks Heritage Room.

April 1, 2019 - University of South Carolina School of Law assistant professor Shelley Welton said that citizens having more input about their energy systems could help address some of the challenges of climate change.

Welton's remarks were part of her presentation, "Decarbonization in Democracy" last week in the Hendricks Heritage Room at the University of Houston Law Center.

"Scholars and policymakers have been too quick to dismiss the possibility that if you were to engage and empower citizens more, you might actually see real improvement in decarbonization policies," Welton said.

One potential reform Welton mentioned was that utilities should be required to gauge what their customers want out of their energy system.

"Another reform I propose is experimenting with state laws that somehow give communities the ability to break up with their utility, and make their own energy purchasing decisions," Welton said. "I see this as a way to counteract the political and economic dominance that a lot of utilities have at a state level. This would give the public more diverse choices about the sources of their energy.”

There are two remaining sessions of the Spring 2019 Distinguished Speaker Series. Anita Krishnakumar of the St. John's University School of Law will speak on April 1. The series will conclude with Aziz Huq of the University of Chicago Law School on April 8. All presentations take place in the Hendricks Heritage Room.

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