Environment & Energy

Our planet faces unprecedented environmental challenges, threatening ecosystems, species, coastal communities, and all too often, human life itself. Heading the list of threats is climate change, with its promise of drastic environmental, economic, and cultural upheaval. But we also face persistent problems of air and water pollution, toxic wastes, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and other Great Waters, and protecting natural resources and wildlife.

Central to the environmental health of the nation and the planet is decreasing our dependence on energy derived from burning fossil fuels. Our continued reliance on these sources is literally endangering the planet's ability to sustain life as we know it. Yet many policymakers, with the financial and rhetorical support of energy companies bent on making a profit at the cost of the planet's health, continue to resist desperately needed reforms. Read about CPR’s work protecting the environment in reports, testimony, op-eds and more. Use the search box to narrow the list.

Joint Letter to the House Natural Resources Committee in Support of the Environmental Justice for All Act

Darya Minovi of the Center for Progressive Reform joined leaders and experts from other public interest organizations in a letter to the House Natural Resources Committee in support of the Environmental Justice for All Act (H.R. 2021).

Type: Legislative Testimony (Feb. 15, 2022)
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Comments on EPA Environmental Justice Action Plan

The Center for Progressive Reform submitted feedback to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Land and Emergency Management regarding its Draft Environmental Justice Action Plan. The feedback notes that while the draft action plan is a necessary step to ensuring environmental justice impacts and benefits are proactively considered in the office's programs, there are opportunities to strengthen existing strategies. The feedback also urges EPA to consider additional strategies under the office's authority and with environmental justice implications that are currently missing from the draft plan.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Feb. 7, 2022)
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Author(s): Darya Minovi, David Flores, James Goodwin, Katlyn Schmitt
Disaster at Winston-Salem Fertilizer Plant Is Unacceptable, Unnecessary, and Entirely Preventable

A fire that erupted Monday night at a fertilizer plant in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, continues to burn endangering thousands of people in the area who have had to evacuate or shelter-in-place. The threat of a deadly explosion remains as the fire continues to burn out of control, threatening the health and safety of the nearby communities. This tragic chemical disaster poses unacceptable risk to those who live, work, or go to school near facilities like this, yet they regularly happen all over the United States, despite being entirely preventable. Communities at the fenceline of the chemical industry in other communities live daily with similar harm and threat due to major gaps in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) federal rules on hazardous chemical storage, use, and industrial facility safety. It’s time for the EPA to prevent these harmful chemical disasters once and for all.

Type: News Releases (Feb. 2, 2022)
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Joint Testimony in Support of Maryland House Bill 250 — Private Well Safety Act of 2022

The Center for Progressive Reform joined other public interest organizations in testimony in support of Maryland House Bill 250 — the Private Well Safety Act of 2022.

Type: Legislative Testimony (Feb. 2, 2022)
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Community Science Initiative Detects Nitrate in Lower Eastern Shore Residents’ Private Wells

A team of environmental policy advocates, community members, and public health scientists have partnered on an initiative to assess and safeguard drinking water for residents of Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore who rely on private wells. The group, which includes representatives from The Assateague Coastal Trust, Center for Progressive Reform (CPR), Environmental Integrity Project, and the University of Maryland School of Public Health, created the Lower Shore Safe Well Water Initiative to protect public health by engaging residents of Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties in community science focused on drinking water quality in the region.

Type: News Releases (Jan. 31, 2022)
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Testimony in Support of Virginia House Bill 899 — Above Ground Storage Tank Regulation

The Center for Progressive Reform joined other organizations in support of Virginia House Bill 899, which would create a registration program for non-petroleum aboveground storage tanks in the Commonwealth.

Type: Legislative Testimony (Jan. 31, 2022)
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Why the Chemical Industry Is an Overlooked Climate Foe — and What to Do About It

Climate change is quickly evolving into climate catastrophe, and there’s a narrow window of time to do something about it. While the world works on solutions, there’s surprisingly little focus on the chemical industry, which accounts for roughly 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions — as well as other environmental harms.

Type: Op-Eds (Jan. 28, 2022)
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Author(s): Darya Minovi
The Supreme Court’s Plan to Block Climate Action We Haven’t Even Taken Yet

On Feb. 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the first of an expected wave of cases challenging governmental action to address the climate crisis. The court’s grant of four petitions seeking review in this case—two by coal companies and two by states—portends that the six conservative justices will erect significant barriers to meaningful climate policy and will continue to interfere with democratic governance in disregard of the rule of law.

Type: Op-Eds (Jan. 25, 2022)
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Author(s): Karen Sokol
Webinar: Decades of Unregulated Chemical Storage Harm Communities and the Environment

Tucked away in industrial parks, towering along railways and waterfronts, and on pallets outside neighborhood home improvement and agricultural supply stores, tanks containing hazardous chemicals are everywhere in the landscape. When it comes to public protections for our health and safety, however, these unregulated chemical storage facilities are missing from public policy. In a January 13 webinar, public health and environmental policy experts answered questions about the threat these tanks pose and offered solutions to this longstanding problem. Our recent report on unregulated aboveground chemical storage served as a springboard for the discussion.

Type: Webinars (Jan. 13, 2022)
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Author(s): Darya Minovi
Enron's Collapse 20 Years Later -- Lessons Not Learned

In December 2001, the wunderkind energy company Enron collapsed spectacularly, destroying $67 billion in assets held by mutual funds, retirees and individual stock investors. Some commentary 20 years later has focused on how Enron heralded the first of companies making money by “disruption"—even as some of this disruption also led to negative impacts on society. There is no doubt that, like Facebook, even Enron’s legitimate money-making enterprises had some negative spillovers as a side effect of wealth creation by innovation. But the problem isn’t with the idea of seeking innovation or testing disruptive ways of doing things; the problem is that government regulators, then and now, have been starved of their ability to effectively channel market forces and private innovation to wealth creation while avoiding negative externalities. Truly supporting the private sector, innovation, and wealth creation, requires more government regulation, not less.

Type: Op-Eds (Dec. 27, 2021)
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Author(s): Victor Flatt

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