To commemorate Women’s History Month, we’re interviewing women at the Center for Progressive Reform about how they’re building a more just America, whether by pursuing a just transition to clean energy, protections for food workers, or legal support for American Indians. This week, we spoke with Hannah Wiseman, a professor at Penn State University who teaches and writes about energy and environmental law and land use regulation.
CPR: What motivated you to become an expert in energy law and a voice for a just energy transition in the United States? Is there historical context to this or a moment in history that stood out to you as motivation or inspiration?
HW: When I was working in Texas in 2008, two types of energy development were booming: hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for natural gas (“gas”) and wind energy. It became clear that we were at a major transition point. We could choose continued reliance on fossil fuels or we could substantially ramp up renewable energy. It turns out that in the United States, we chose both. We became the world’s largest oil and gas producer due to fracking, and we also greatly expanded renewables, but not by enough …
Intersectional environmentalism is a relatively new phrase that refers to a more inclusive form of environmentalism, one that ties anti-racist principles into sectors that have long profited from overlooking or ignoring historically disenfranchised populations.
According to youth activist Leah Thomas, “It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the earth, to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality. Intersectional environmentalism advocates for justice for people and the planet.”
Nearly 20 years ago, the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) was founded on a vision that government could be reimagined and reformed so that it serves all people — regardless of income, background, race, or religion — and our planet. Intersectional environmentalism is that vision: thriving communities on a resilient planet.
Born February 4, 1913, Rosa Parks would become a leader of the civil rights movement. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, she refused to vacate her seat on a public transportation bus for a white man. Her decision inspired the Black community of Montgomery to boycott buses for over a year. In 1956, a federal court deemed that bus segregation was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
When she later penned her autobiography, Parks wrote that though she had seen progress in her lifetime, there was still much work to be done in the way of racial justice.
Today, on her birthday, racial equity and progressive groups across the country are commemorating #TransitEquityDay. The effort promotes awareness of the inequities in public transit, which is frequently inaccessible and unaffordable. What’s more, to combat the climate crisis and air pollution that …