When we bring citizen participation, accountability and transparency to the institutions, government and business decisions that shape our energy grid, not only does that accelerate the transition to protect the climate -- it safeguards democracy as well.
Leading experts suggest that the best way to combat authoritarianism is through a reinvestment in the sometimes-humble grassroots work of community organizing. By making the regulatory process more transparent and responsive, Third Actors will help catalyze a just transition toward a participatory democracy and clean energy economy that nurtures life now and into the future.
US policy does not yet reflect the scientific consensus about the necessary rapid timeline for economy-wide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, especially not in states that lack strong leadership or will to align with federal climate progress. With recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a newly-Republican House and the Supreme Court hamstringing the EPA’s authority to regulate the climate, the fight for a livable future shifts to these states, and to non-legislative strategies for confronting this global challenge.
At this intersection of Third Act’s key issues of climate and democracy are Public Utility Commissions (“PUCs”): appointed or elected regulatory bodies with broad and far- reaching authority to execute energy policy distinct from legislatures, governors or federal oversight. PUCs regulate monopoly power utilities, set rates for consumers, approve or deny new power plants, define state climate action plans, and enforce environmental justice – and in many states they’ve operated in obscurity, largely behind closed doors.
Third Act’s signature effort to engage this PUC work is Power Up Communities! — the first coordinated nationwide initiative to organize direct citizen advocacy across state-level PUCs in the United States. Third Act is helping to organize more than a dozen partners for a collaborative strategy that leverages the current moment to reshape climate & energy policy and to democratize our energy economy.
Beyond this initiative, Third Act’s work extends locally to advocate for sound state clean energy and climate policy, and to uplift and extend recent federal climate protection efforts under the IRA.
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