FIELD REPORTS

Regulating Pot to Save the Polar Bear: Energy and Climate Impacts of the Marijuana Industry

24th June 2015 By: Gina S. Warren

It goes by many names: cannabis, marijuana, pot, chronic, grass, reefer, shwag, Mary Jane. Whatever the name, the trend is clear: the weed is legal but the herb ain't green. Nearly half of all U.S. states have enacted-or have pending-legislation to legalize, decriminalize, or in some way permit the use and cultivation of marijuana. As a result, marijuana has become a significant topic of conversation in the U.S.-especially in the areas of social policy and criminal law. One conversation yet to reach fruition, however, is the industry's projected impacts on energy demand and the climate. As the industry grows, so will its negative externalities. Indoor cannabis cultivation is one of the most energy-intensive industries in the U.S., requiring electricity to power lamps, to maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels, and to power fans for ventilation, among other things. This energy consumption, unless otherwise mitigated, results in significant greenhouse gas emissions. This article explores the opportunities that legalization brings in addressing the negative impacts on energy usage and the climate. It concludes that simply incorporating the marijuana industry into the existing energy regulatory framework will do little to address its negative impacts. It recommends that state and local policymakers take advantage of the opportunity to consider climate risks and energy usage before issuing business licenses for indoor marijuana cultivators.

 

The Curbside Commons: Parking and Property in Portland, Oregon

21st April 2015 By: Solomon Rotstein

Long-heralded as a "green" city with an almost-mythical quality of life, Portland, Oregon, unsurprisingly, is inscribing concerns over climate change into the very fabric of its land use planning. By 2035, city planners hope that eighty percent of Portlanders will live within a "complete neighborhood," defined as one in which all essential goods and services are available within a twenty minute walk from a resident's home. Planning documents expressly cite concerns over GHG emissions as a rationale for this vision. One set of seemingly innocuous policies with the potential to play an outsized role in the actualization of the complete neighborhood are minimum off-street parking requirements, and, as a corollary, a regime for allocating on-street parking space. When buildings are pushed further apart to make room for parking lots, the feasibility of twenty-minute walkability in the neighborhood decreases. More fundamentally, parking is the "terminal" of the very car-based transportation system whose negative environmental effects the complete neighborhood attempts to mitigate.

Finding Fault: Induced Earthquake Liability and Regulation

1st April 2015 By: Emery Gullickson Richards

Man-made earthquakes have followed the hydraulic fracturing boom into the twenty-first century. In recent years, operators have hydraulically fractured more than 100,000 wells in the U.S. In tandem with the current increase in unconventional oil and gas production in the U.S., the number of earthquakes in the central and eastern parts of the country has increased dramatically: more than 300 earthquakes above a magnitude 3.0 occurred in the three years from 2010 to 2012, compared with an average rate of 21 events per year from 1967 to 2000. Although hydraulic fracturing stimulation operations routinely produce earthquakes below magnitude 2, so-called "microearthquakes" that are too small to be felt, these operations pose a very low risk of inducing larger, destructive earthquakes. To date, earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing in Oklahoma, Texas, Canada, and the United Kingdom, though large enough to be felt at the surface, have not posed serious risk.

 

Bridge (Loan) Over Troubled Water

13th March 2015 By: David Ullman

On September 16, 2014, the federal Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") rejected the vast majority of a low-cost loan request from the administration of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to help finance a replacement for the aging Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River approximately 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan. The decision was hailed by environmental advocates who had argued that the federal funding, authorized by a 1987 amendment to the landmark Clean Water Act ("CWA"), should be reserved for "genuine environmentally beneficial projects" such as those financing municipal wastewater facilities and improving water quality. The federal rejection of $481.8 million in funding was also notable in that the full $510.9 million request had been approved by the agency responsible for managing the revolving loan fund, the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation ("EFC").

Green Energy and Green Banks: Governance Policies on Climate Change

11th January 2015 By: Anthony Fares

Should Universities and Pension Funds Divest from Fossil Fuel Stocks?

7th January 2015 By: Gregg Badichek

The Environmental Threat of Cuba’s Deep Water Exploratory Drilling Under the Embargo

21st December 2014 By: Leo Oppenheimer

Hot Air Rises Through the Courts

3rd June 2014 By: Rees Alexander and Elizabeth Ewing

The “Lone Grid” State: Texas as the Ideal Location for State-Level Climate Regulation

13th December 2013 By: James D. Friedland

Conflict in the Air? Federalism, the Clean Air Act, and Arkansas's Act 1302

13th December 2013 By: Christian D. Petrangelo

FIELD REPORTS ARCHIVES: POPULAR POSTS

Finding Fault: Induced Earthquake Liability and Regulation

By: Emery Gullickson Richards
01 April 2015 12:00 am

Man-made earthquakes have followed the hydraulic fracturing boom into the twenty-first century. In recent years, operators have hydraulically fractured more than 100,000 wells in the U.S. In tandem with the current increase in unconventional oil and gas production in the U.S., the number of earthquakes in the central and eastern parts of...

+Green Energy and Green Banks: Governance Policies on Climate Change

By: Anthony Fares
11 January 2015 12:00 am

Event Coverage from the Columbia University Energy Symposium, held at Columbia University on November 21, 2014. This Field Report addresses the major topics covered by the Governance Policies on Climate Change Panel at the 10th Annual Columbia University Energy Symposium, held on November 21st, 2014.  Panelists included Farrukh Khan, Senior...

Bridge (Loan) Over Troubled Water

By: David Ullman
13 March 2015 12:00 am

On September 16, 2014, the federal Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") rejected the vast majority of a low-cost loan request from the administration of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to help finance a replacement for the aging Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River approximately 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan. The decision...

+Should Universities and Pension Funds Divest from Fossil Fuel Stocks?

By: Gregg Badichek
07 January 2015 12:00 am

Event Coverage from the "Should Universities and Pension Funds Divest from Fossil Fuel Stocks?" Forum, held at Columbia University on November 24, 2014.The campaign encouraging shareholding entities to divest their holdings and funds from the stocks of fossil fuel companies has grown from a loosely affiliated grassroots confederation into a...


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Regulating Pot to Save the Polar Bear: Energy and Climate Impacts of the Marijuana Industry

It goes by many names: cannabis, marijuana, pot, chronic, grass, reefer, shwag, Mary...

The Curbside Commons: Parking and Property in Portland, Oregon

Long-heralded as a "green" city with an almost-mythical quality of life, Portland,...

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