Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Chelsea Schelly

Committee Member 1

Joshua Pearce

Committee Member 2

Roman Sidortsov


This thesis presents three examples of U.S. energy policy and demonstrates how these policies violate the principles of energy justice. First, requiring only Federal agencies to obtain a percentage of energy production from renewables violates the distributive energy justice principle through a lack of a federal renewable energy policy which distributes the potential for unequal electrical grid failure to populations. Second, U.S. energy policy violates the procedural energy justice principle through inequitable participation and poor knowledge dissemination that, in some cases, contributes to stagnant renewable targets during the decision-making process and inequitable distribution of the benefits associated with renewable energy arguably resulting from differential representation of economic groups in policy decision making. Third, the United States’ continued reliance on and subsidization of fossil fuel extraction and use, violates the prohibitive energy justice principle by causing physical harm to humans and the environment. Finally, a lack of federal renewable energy policy hinders comprehensive energy policy including diversifying the U.S. renewable energy portfolios. Considering energy policy through the framework of energy justice offers a means of evaluating existing policy and can improve future energy policy decision-making. Demanding energy justice ensures that all populations have equitable distribution, participation, and access to affordable, efficient, and clean energy technologies that contribute to obtaining basic needs.