Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources

First Advisor

Bindu Panikkar


In the United States, sub-national state policies play outsized roles in renewable energy policy. Vermont is considered a leader in renewable energy transitions, exemplified by its goal of a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. While scholars have praised Vermont’s transition policies, few studies analyze it using energy justice or just transition principles. This is a crucial omission, as justice in energy transition has both moral and instrumental importance – unjust transitions may thwart themselves by failing to achieve widespread societal support. I make initial contributions to this study using original research conducted as a member of an environmental justice partnership. First, I find that policy ignores the opportunity provided by household transition benefits to mitigate energy vulnerability, benefiting wealthy property owners instead. The same policies also appear to impact public energy governance processes, marginalizing energy vulnerable households. As an alternative, I suggest policy frameworks which characterize energy a public good. Second, I analyze discourses in Vermont’s renewable energy planning documents, as well as interview discourses about Vermont’s renewable energy transition, to study how these policies prevent and/or encourage just transition politics. I compare these visions against those in just transition literature, finding marginal overlap. I conclude that Vermont energy transition discourses largely prevent just transition by assuming a neoclassical economic vision. I suggest just transition advocates may use of marginal overlap to advance rhetorical claims, but that further research into what fosters the small number of existing just transition discourses in Vermont is needed.



Number of Pages

113 p.