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Environmental, Natural Resources, & Energy Law

Greening the Grid: Building a Legal Framework for Carbon Neutrality

April 23 and 24, 2009, Council Chamber, Lewis & Clark College

Sponsored by
Lewis & Clark Law School and Environmental Law

Join us for an exciting two days of envisioning the future, as national legal and industry experts discuss the laws we need to support the growth of low- or no-carbon energy sources for the power transmission grid. Renewable energy, clean coal technology and nuclear power will all be on the table for discussion by speakers and participants.

Attendance for this ground-breaking conference will be limited and advance registration is required. Parking is also limited and alternative transportation information will be provided to confirmed registrants. See the sidebar on the right for more information, which will be updated frequently.

Thursday evening reception!

We are pleased to announce that Annabelle Malins, British Consul for Science and Innovation, and Laura Meadors, British Vice Consul for Renewables, Cleantech and Financial Services with UK Trade & Investment, will speak at the Thursday evening reception directly after the “Clean Coal” session. The reception will be held in Stamm on the main floor of Templeton Student Center at the college campus.

Why this Conference?

Development of renewable energy sources has become one of the major political and legal issues of our time. Due to concerns related to climate change, energy independence, and escalating fuel and electricity prices, many policymakers, environmental advocates, and entrepreneurs have called for the United States to adopt a new national energy policy that promotes use of renewable energy sources. However, others argue that renewable energy sources will never adequately meet the country’s escalating energy needs. While these commentators believe renewable energy should play some role in powering the country, they believe a better solution involves improving existing technologies to provide more “clean coal,” natural gas, and nuclear energy. Nearly everyone believes that the U.S. must “green” its power system; but what that means, and how it should be done, remains a subject of considerable debate.

This symposium will explore the ongoing debate regarding the U.S. energy policies and consider how the country may revise its energy system to promote sustainable energy sources. The symposium will first take a look at the broader issues surrounding renewable energy development and explore how and whether electricity sector restructuring will accommodate new renewable energy sources. The symposium will then discuss the various energy sources that a greener grid might employ, including “clean coal,” wind, solar, hydropower, and nuclear energy. Through moderated discussions, the symposium will explore the benefits and risks of using each of the specific energy sources and consider whether renewable energy will play a meaningful role in the U.S. electricity sector.

Making a carbon-neutrality conference carbon neutral

Lewis & Clark Law School recognizes that national academic conferences, in and of themselves, contribute to greenhouse gases and anthropogenic climate change through energy consumption at the conference, speaker and participant travel, production of conference materials, and even the provision of food and drink for conference participants. We’re using several approaches to reduce our carbon footprint for this conference:

Carbon audit: We encourage all speakers and participants to take a few minutes to estimate their carbon footprint for the attending the conference. Lewis & Clark has calculated its carbon footprint for hosting the conference and will make the calculations available at the conference.

Carbon offsets for transportation: We realize there is a controversy as to the efficacy of carbon offsets, given the many providers getting into the carbon offset business and the temptation to use offsets in lieu of behavior change. In this transitional period before widespread availability of carbon-neutral long-distance transportation, we encourage all participants to minimize their transportation impact by choosing low-carbon transportation alternatives whenever possible, and then offset the carbon they use through donations to reputable carbon offset providers. Environmental Defense Fund has published a list of such offsetters and there are countless other resources on the web. We’d be interested in your suggestions, which we’ll post on this site. We will also keep track of the offset providers used by conference attenders, based on self-reporting, to see where our collective investment goes.

Lewis & Clark will purchase carbon offsets for all shuttle buses to campus from downtown as well as other conference-related transportation.

Local sustainable food: Our conference meals and breaks are provided by Bon Appetit in conformance with its sustainability policy, which emphasizes local providers to minimize long-distance travel for food.

Conference energy use: To reduce the environmental impact of producing paper conference notebooks, we plan to provide electronic versions of all conference materials (recycled-paper backups available on request for a fee to cover the cost of printing and carbon production). Our conference center, Council Chamber, is set in a room with a wall of windows to provide natural light. Lewis & Clark is already committed to increasing the use of alternative energy. We’ll also be purchasing carbon offsets for our facility’s remaining energy use during the conference. The papers for the symposium edition of Environmental Law will be available online for free download.

If you would like to provide other suggestions for us or for conference participants in reducing our carbon footprint, please email Lin Harmon at