Stories by Maggie Teliska

Expert Voices

Massachusetts tackles carbon emissions from pot after legalization

 Mike Dundas, CEO of Sira Naturals, looks over plants at the company's facility in Milford, MA
Mike Dundas, CEO of Sira Naturals, looks over plants at the company's facility in Milford, Massachusetts, on June 19, 2018. Photo: Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

After legalizing adult use almost two years ago, Massachusetts opened the state’s first two recreational marijuana stores last month, which sold more than $2.2 million in product on their first day. The retail sales from recreational marijuana could generate an estimated $219 million in taxes for the state over the next two years.

Yes, but: The state's Cannabis Control Commission’s Energy Working Group (CCCEWG) is concerned with skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions from the cultivating facilities. Massachusetts aims to cut statewide emissions by 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. As of 2017, the state was at a 21% reduction, and many fear that the cultivation facilities' increasing energy demands may put the 25% goal at risk.

Expert Voices

Mars InSight Lander sets new solar power record

A replica of the InSight Mars Lander is on display at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California
A replica of the InSight Mars Lander. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

After NASA’s InSight lander touched down smoothly on Mars last month, it extended both of its seven-foot-long solar panels, which it will use to collect energy and recharge its two lithium batteries.

Why it matters: On the first day of its mission, the lander generated 4,588 watt hours of energy. This set a new record for daily energy production among vehicles that have roamed Mars in the past, topping the Curiosity rover, at 2,806 watt hours daily, and the Phoenix lander, at 1,800.

Expert Voices

Farmland solar installations on the rise, but meeting local pushback

Solar photovoltaic panels generate electricity at an Exelon solar power facility on September 1, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.
Solar photovoltaic panels in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

Development and deployment of solar farms continue to increase across the U.S., driven by tax incentives, falling costs and renewable energy mandates for electric utilities. Solar farms are built on farmlands that no longer generate enough revenue or have been abandoned, with some farmers entering into leases of 15–20 years with local utilities and others selling the land directly.

The big picture: Farmers who enter such leases benefit from greater revenue and stable income from rents, while utilities and solar companies benefit from access to cheap land. Although this seems like a win-win for all, some neighbors are getting upset at the change in landscape.

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