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Showing 25 results

A lake at sunset

Katlyn Schmitt | November 17, 2022

The Clean Water Act: 50 Years of Progress, Nine Reforms to Strengthen the Law

For a half century, the Clean Water Act has been the nation's leading water pollution control law. When it passed the modern Clean Water Act in 1972, Congress intended federal and state agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work together to minimize, and ultimately eliminate, water pollution by 1985. While the country has fallen significantly short in meeting this goal, the Clean Water Act has prevented significant water pollution – and we and our waterways are much healthier for it.

Katlyn Schmitt | September 12, 2022

EPA’s Chemical Disaster Rule: Small Steps Forward When Environmental Justice Demands Giant Leaps

At the end of August, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a draft rule to better protect people who live near industrial facilities with hazardous chemicals on site. The rule would strengthen EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP), which regulates more than 12,000 facilities in the United States that store, use, and distribute significant amounts of dangerous chemicals.

Katlyn Schmitt | December 1, 2021

The False Promise of Carbon Capture in Louisiana and Beyond

Carbon capture use and storage is at the center of the national climate policy debate, promoted by the oil and gas industry, the private sector, and even some environmental organizations as a solution to the climate crisis. The federal infrastructure package that President Biden recently signed into law appropriates more than $10.3 billion for the nationwide buildout of carbon capture infrastructure. The fossil fuel industry is targeting Louisiana as an emerging hub for carbon capture, mainly because of the large concentration of industrial facilities that emit carbon dioxide in the stretch of land between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. While Louisiana must move quickly and aggressively in pursuit of climate change solutions, deploying carbon capture to reach net-zero emissions is not the answer. A new Center for Progressive Reform policy brief has more on the subject.

Katlyn Schmitt, Natalia Cabrera | September 21, 2021

‘The Lion Is Missing Its Teeth’: Maryland Must Crack Down on Industrial Polluters

Maryland is home to more than 1,000 industrial facilities, including landfills, auto salvage yards, hazardous waste treatment, storage sites, and various types of manufacturing and processing plants. When it rains or snows, toxic pollution often runs off these facilities and enters nearby waterways and groundwater resources, negatively impacting aquatic life, nearby communities, and drinking water sources. The problem -- known as industrial stormwater pollution -- is dire in Maryland. More industrial facilities are being built in the state, and precipitation intensity is increasing more quickly in the Chesapeake Bay region than elsewhere in the United States, threatening public and environmental health. Low-income people and communities of color are at heightened risk.

Darya Minovi, Katlyn Schmitt | August 30, 2021

Virginia Must Act Now to Hold Polluters Accountable

Virginia is home to thousands of unregulated and aging aboveground hazardous chemical storage tanks, which, when exposed to storms or floods, may be at greater risk of failing or spills. This risk — and the threat it poses to our health and safety — is rising as our climate changes.

Katlyn Schmitt | May 13, 2021

Baltimore Sun Op-Ed: Is the Maryland Department of the Environment Cleaning Up Its Act When It Comes to Enforcement?

Dirty, polluted stormwater that runs off of industrial sites when it rains is a major cause of pollution to Maryland’s streams and rivers, and ultimately to the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland is home to thousands of such industrial sites, all of which are required by law to obtain a stormwater discharge permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to prevent pollution and protect public and environmental health. Unfortunately, many of these sites do not have a permit. For example, our research in one small area of Anne Arundel County found that only four out of 12 industrial sites possessed a current permit. Of the industrial sites that hold a permit, many are not in compliance with the permit requirements. Between 2017 and 2020, MDE conducted just under 2,000 inspections of permitted sites throughout Maryland and found that more than two-thirds (68%) were violating the terms of their permits. These industrial sites are commonly clustered in urban areas, creating pollution hot spots of runoff that can include heavy metals and other toxins. Such polluted waters threaten the health of those who live nearby, who are more likely to be low income and populated by people of color.

Katlyn Schmitt | April 13, 2021

Maryland Adopts Law to Ensure Safe Drinking Water for Tenants

At midnight on April 13, Maryland’s 2021 legislative session closed out with the passage of House Bill 1069 that will provide meaningful drinking water protections for tenants who rely on well water.

Darya Minovi, Katlyn Schmitt | March 22, 2021

Maryland Court Orders State to Limit Ammonia Pollution from Industrial Poultry Operations

Last week, a Maryland circuit court ruled that the state must regulate and limit ammonia pollution from industrial poultry operations. This landmark decision takes an important step toward protecting the environment and public health in the Old Line State and could spur similar action in other states.

Katlyn Schmitt | March 1, 2021

Achieving Meaningful Accountability for Polluters in Maryland

Businesses that violate environmental laws and permits damage our air, land, and water, sometimes irreparably. Yet too often, these polluters aren't held accountable for harming the environment and public health. In Maryland, state officials don't respond to all violations, and, when they do, they aren't always successful. Even when they are successful, fines and other penalties don't necessarily result in behavior change. As a result, Maryland polluters are largely off the hook for the "externalities" of doing business.