Tripping Over Power Lines: Heydinger, Epel, and States’ Autonomy in Setting Renewable Energy Standards

By Devan Braun

In the wake of the federal government’s failure to implement policies designed to adequately mitigate climate change in the United States, action taken by individual states is now at the forefront of reducing emissions and incentivizing renewable energy.  This has drawn strong opposition to both new and existing programs such as renewable portfolio standards and renewable energy mandates, which have helped for some time now to decarbonize and diversify the electric grid from which we, as consumers, receive our power.  We now find ourselves in a position in which cost-effective renewable generation exists and can provide a realistic alternative to the use of traditional fossil fuels,  but legal uncertainty as to the viability of state renewable energy programs is a potential barrier slowing down our ability to decarbonize the electric grid and reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. . . .

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Energy Storage: To Be, or Not To Be . . . What, Exactly? That Is the Real Question

By Andrew Kinde

In 2016, almost every country in the world signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, the most significant concerted action toward mitigating climate change to date. While noteworthy and ambitious, the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming below the scientific consensus threshold of two degrees Celsius continues to become less realistic absent more substantial actions to achieve a low-carbon energy infrastructure. One strategy debated in recent years involves using natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to a low-carbon energy economy. The main argument in its favor is that it is a cleaner, conventional, and cost-effective substitute to coal. However, recent studies have concluded that this strategy might actually “exacerbate the climate change problem” because of methane leakage associated with natural gas and by “delaying deployment of renewable energy technologies.” Still, proponents of the “bridge fuel” strategy argue that natural gas is needed until we solve the two major problems of renewables: intermittency and cost. These “bridge fuel” proponents claim that dispatchable sources like natural gas, coal, nuclear, and hydro are necessary to ensure grid reliability because they can be stored and switched on at a moment’s notice whenever required. The inherent intermittent quality of renewables arguably makes those sources less reliable and not as dispatchable compared to supposed “baseload” sources. The traditional concept of baseload sources is that they “operate continuously to meet the minimum level of power demand 24/7,” with nuclear and coal power used as prime examples. . . .

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The Constitutionality of Section 23 of Massachusetts’s Recreational Marijuana Law

By Patricia Pérez Elías

This article explores whether an equal protection claim under the Massachusetts Constitution could be brought to successfully challenge the local control provision currently included in Chapter 55, Section 23 of the Massachusetts Acts of 2017 (“marijuana law”) regarding adult use marijuana. The local control provision (“Section 23”) of the marijuana law differentiates between Massachusetts municipalities based on how they voted on Question 4 of the 2016 election ballot, which was titled “Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana.” Specifically, Section 23 allows local elected officials in municipalities that voted against the legalization of marijuana to adopt ordinances that limit the number of marijuana establishments within their borders without first submitting the ordinances for approval by the voters. On the other hand, Section 23 requires officials in municipalities that voted in the affirmative on ballot Question 4 to first submit such ordinances to voters for approval. A claimant seeking to challenge Section 23 on state equal protection grounds would argue that the local control provision burdens the fundamental right to vote . . . 

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