On April 3, 2020, Yumkas, Vidmar, Sweeney & Mulrenin partner Benjamin S. Wechsler served as an invited panelist at the Environmental Law Institute’s “Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review.” The conference, which was transformed into a last-minute webinar on account of COVID-19, was attended by more than 250 leading national environmental and energy attorneys.
Energy impact fees have been proposed as a land use tool for local government to incentivize “green” building efforts, and to force residential and commercial developers to internalize costs (including climate change adaptation costs) associated with increased energy demands. Energy impact fees have been proposed as a means to promote both energy efficiency at the local level and “decarbonization” at a global level.
Mr. Wechsler argued in response that new impact fees would exacerbate housing affordability challenges and could run contrary to sound land use planning as developers shop for jurisdictions with no or low impact fees, which likely will be suburban, exurban and rural jurisdictions. Mr. Wechsler argued that the worthy energy efficiency and decarbonization policy goals could be more efficiently and fairly achieved through traditional utility rate-setting, tax incentives, green building codes, and energy performance standards.
You can watch a recording of this conference below. Please note that Mr. Wechsler’s panel starts at 4:00:30 and his individual commentary begins at 5:18:27.