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.

As coronavirus infections peak, profit-driven hospital systems must be held accountable

In the Boston Globe, Shalanda Baker and colleagues write that "The announcement that Carney Hospital in Dorchester would become the country’s first dedicated COVID-19 hospital was largely hailed as a welcome expansion of hospital capacity in response to the outbreak. This hospital normally serves as a safety net for low-income residents in Dorchester.... Although it is unclear whether [this and similar hospital sitings] put the surrounding communities at greater risk of infection, they follow a broader pattern emerging in COVID-19 hot spots. As New York, Boston, and other jurisdictions decide where to erect makeshift hospitals, stakeholders must remain vigilant regarding this pattern of burdening low-income communities and communities of color. This oversight is especially needed in the case of for-profit entities.

Type: Op-Eds (May 1, 2020)
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Author(s): Shalanda H. Baker
Our Chemical Regulatory Program Is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It.

Writing in Undark, CPR Member Scholar Wendy Wagner and co-author Will Walker write that the existing framework for chemical regulation puts too much burden on EPA and too little on manufacturers.

Type: Op-Eds (April 30, 2020)
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Author(s): Wendy Wagner
Webinar: Climate Justice: Vulnerability and Resilience to COVID-19 and the Climate Crisis

On CPR's April 29, 2020, webinar, participants will hear from leading experts on pandemics, public health, and climate change, as part of our series of Climate Justice webinars. Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana is an expert in epidemic and disaster management, with decades of experience advising federal, state, and local officials on health security. Dr. Aaron Bernstein brings experience as a pediatrician on the front lines and cutting-edge expertise on the intersection of public health and climate change. Finally, seasoned environmental lawyer and CPR Member Scholar Daniel Farber offers expertise in legal and policy tools, such as the Stafford Act, that may be used to help protect vulnerable communities from bearing the greatest burden of the pandemic.

Type: Webinars (April 29, 2020)
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Author(s): Daniel Farber, Darya Minovi
Opinion analysis: The Justices' purpose-full reading of the Clean Water Act

Writing for SCOTUSBlog, CPR's Lisa Heinzerling discusses the Supreme Court's April 2020 ruling in a Clean Water Act case from Hawaii. The ruling requires a permit when a point source of pollution adds pollutants to navigable waters through groundwater, if the addition of pollutants is "the functional equivalent of a direct discharge" from the source into navigable waters. She writes that "Perhaps the most striking feature of Justice Stephen Breyer's opinion for the majority is its interpretive method. The opinion reads like something from a long-ago period of statutory interpretation, before statutory decisions regularly made the central meaning of complex laws turn on a single word or two and banished legislative purpose to the interpretive fringes."

Type: Op-Eds (April 23, 2020)
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Author(s): Lisa Heinzerling
Censored Science Rule Virtual Hearing Testimony

Testifying at a virtual hearing hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, James Goodwin laid bare the feeble legal underpinnings of EPA's "censored science" rule.

Type: Letters to Agencies (April 14, 2020)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
Parole Hearings Should Be Resumed for Public Health

Writing for AL.com, Heather Elliott calls on the Alabama Director of the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles to resume holding parole hearings amidst the coronavirus pandemic, and to do so electronically, in light of the governor's order waiving face-to-face hearing requirements. She notes that an outbreak of coronavirus in a prison setting could lead to many unnecessary deaths.

Type: Op-Eds (April 13, 2020)
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Author(s): Heather Elliott
Virus provides lessons on government, science and politics

Joseph Tomain, writing in the Cincinnati Enquirer, discusses lessons to be learned -- so far -- from the coronavirus pandemic.

Type: Op-Eds (April 13, 2020)
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Author(s): Joseph Tomain
Deregulation on Demand: Trump EPA Panders to Polluters in Dismantling Clean Power Plan

Corporate capture of regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency has long been a barrier to promulgation and enforcement of effective safeguards. But under the Trump administration, it has progressed to a dizzying degree of brazenness, helping to power the president’s dangerous assault on public safeguards. In Deregulation on Demand, CPR's James Goodwin, working with researchers from the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, documents the extent to which corporate capture by polluters played a role in the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan.

Type: Reports (April 9, 2020)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
The Pandemic and Industry Opportunism

Writing for The Regulatory Review, Rena Steinzor notes that in March 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic in full swing, EPA enforcement chief Susan Bodine issued a memo offering businesses assurance that EPA would overlook certain regulatory violations for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Public interest groups roundly criticized the new policy, prompting EPA to cry "fake news."

Type: Op-Eds (April 8, 2020)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor
Trump's EPA Uses Coronavirus Crisis to Mask Environmental Deregulation and Suspend Enforcement

Writing on ACSBlog, Joel Mintz describes the several ways that the Trump EPA has seized on the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to undercut a range of environmental protections.

Type: Op-Eds (April 7, 2020)
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Author(s): Joel Mintz

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