Environmental Policy Competition

The Columbia Economics Review invites teams of 1 – 4 undergraduates to participate in its fourth annual Competitive Climate environmental policy competition. Cash prizes of $600, $300 and $150 will be awarded to the 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd- place finishers respectively, thanks to the generous support of the Columbia Economics Department. The winning presentations will also be recognized by the The Earth Institute and will be featured in the Spring 2017 edition of the Columbia Economics Review and on the Columbia Economics Department website.


On 16 October 2015, the U.S. Department of Interior effectively canceled the future auctions of Arctic offshore oil leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas for 2016 and 2017, and rejected major oil companies’ petitions to extend their pre-existing leases in other areas in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean. This administrative decision towards the potential cease of offshore Arctic drilling poses many benefits and complications that are environmental, political, and economic in nature. Many politicians and oil companies are angered, while many factions are pleased.

Imagine that you will head the U.S. Department of Interior in 2017, and have full say, alongside your team, to continue the policy in place on offshore Arctic Drilling. Taking into account the interests of environmentalists, oil companies, bipartisan politics, and the broader U.S. economy, design an offshore Arctic drilling policy that minimizes costs, environmental/political/economic, for the nation. Proposals will be judged according to the following criteria:

    • An evidence-driven analysis of climate science research along with projections for future environmental and economic costs associated with offshore Arctic drilling. [Environmental Science, Economics]
    • An understanding of the existing lease policies in place, as well as arguments in support and in opposition to those existing policies, raised by any affected interest group. [Political Science, Economics]
    • A realistic outline of policies and programs that will effectively address environmental concerns, as well as those raised by the nation’s political and business leaders. [Engineering/Technology, Economics]
    • A thorough discussion of the primary and secondary economic effects of the team’s proposal. [Economics]
    • An evaluation of how federal political constraints affect the probability and impact of enacting the team’s proposal. [Political Science]



  • A 10-15 minute PowerPoint video presentation with commentary.
    • Audio commentary can be submitted in any format or combination of formats that you find suitable, including, but not limited to:
        • Narrated presentation with voice-over
        • Video recording of lecture-style presentation
        • Documentary-style video
    • Optional: Written commentary should not exceed 6 – 8 pages, double-spaced

Submission Guidelines

  • All videos must be submitted in one of the following file formats:
    • .MP4 (recommended)
    • .MOV
    • .AVI
    • .WMV
    • .FLV
  • Please title your video in the following format:
    • “Team Leader Name” — e.g., “John Smith”
  • All videos must be submitted, either over email or via Dropbox, to epcsubmissions@gmail.com
    • Please use the title of your video in the subject line of the email

Key Dates

  • 25 December 2016: Registration deadline
  • 31 January 2017: Submission deadline
  • Early February 2017: Review and selection of finalists
  • Late February 2017: Winners notified


If you have any questions or encounter technical difficulties, please contact

Zoey Chopra Senior Director, Environmental Policy Competition
Mackenzie Nohr Associate Director, Environmental Policy Competition
Katherine Mao Associate Director, Environmental Policy Competition
Chenjie Zhao Associate Director, Environmental Policy Competition