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.

Biden's Idealistic UN Message on Climate Change

Addresses by national leaders to the United Nations General Assembly are often broad expressions of lofty ideals, and President Joe Biden's speech Tuesday fell squarely into that category. It covered an extraordinary panoply of global challenges and policy concerns, including controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuilding and strengthening global alliances and regional initiatives, curbing terrorism, protecting human rights (including the rights of women and workers) and lifting up democracy. Biden also committed the United States to advancing human dignity, combating corruption and seeking peace in areas of conflict around the world.

Type: Op-Eds (Sept. 22, 2021)
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Author(s): Joel Mintz
The New Orleans Power Outage Shows How Urgently a Climate-resilient Power Grid Is Needed

Ask just about any New Orleanian to name the most exasperating thing about the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, and you’ll get the same answer. It isn’t the floodwater. Or the roof damage. It’s something more familiar but equally as threatening to life, health and property: power failure. The problem started soon after Ida made landfall, when all eight of our region’s high-voltage transmission lines failed. In one instance, a 400-foot-tall transmission tower supporting power lines spanning the length of more than 10 football fields across the Mississippi River crumpled like a foil candy wrapper.

Type: Op-Eds (Sept. 3, 2021)
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Author(s): Robert Verchick
UN Glasgow Summit May Be Our Last Chance to Prevent Self-Created Climate Disaster

Scientific concerns about the impacts and risks of global climate change are scarcely new. In 1988, those concerns became sufficiently widespread in the scientific community that the United Nations established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a committee that included hundreds of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, to study the emerging climate problem and its implications. Since its creation, this panel has issued five full extensive reports. These assessments were soundly criticized by some independent climate scientists as understating the significance and dangers of climate change. However, earlier this month, the IPCC seems to have rectified that purported problem. Given this, how should we proceed? By way of example and quiet diplomacy, the United States must use its influence to encourage other nations to meet their climate responsibilities.

Type: Op-Eds (Aug. 24, 2021)
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Author(s): Joel Mintz
Joint Comment to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on Updating Public Participation Guidelines

CPR Policy Analyst Katlyn Schmitt joined the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative in a public comment urging the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to update its public participation guidelines. They urged DEQ to ensure meaningful public involvement in the regulatory activities of the state — including the relative state boards that make decisions related to air pollution, water pollution, and waste management.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Aug. 20, 2021)
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Author(s): Katlyn Schmitt
IPCC Report Shows Urgent Need for Two International Climate Policies

The Interdisciplinary Panel on Climate Change report released Aug. 9 declared that evidence is now unequivocal that human activity is driving global warming, and immediate steps must be taken to mitigate profound changes. Karen C. Sokol, professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and CPR Member Scholar, says two essential international policies must be taken — ending fossil fuel production and providing communities with the resources to adapt.

Type: Op-Eds (Aug. 17, 2021)
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The Policy Significance of the Polluters Pay Climate Fund Act

On Aug. 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the first installment of its latest report assessing the state of scientific knowledge about the climate crisis. As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres put it in a press release, the report is nothing less than “a code red for humanity.” The good news is that the science indicates that there is still time to respond by taking drastic and rapid action to shift from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy and to keep people safe in the face of the dangerous changes in the climate system that have already taken place. That will be expensive, and a group of senators led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) plan to introduce legislation based on the well-established legal and moral principle that those who cause damage should pay for it.

Type: Op-Eds (Aug. 12, 2021)
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Author(s): Karen Sokol
Testimony to the New York City Racial Justice Commission on Environmental Justice

On August 3, 2021, CPR Member Scholar Rebecca Bratspies presented testimony to the New York City Racial Justice Commission. She commented on environmental injustices in New York City and offered five recommendations for reforms that would help ensure that all New Yorkers can breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in healthy, thriving neighborhoods.

Type: Legislative Testimony (Aug. 3, 2021)
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Author(s): Rebecca Bratspies
Leadership and the Challenge of Climate Change

Recent events have dramatized the urgent need for prompt and bold action to respond to climate change. Raging rivers in Germany and Belgium, unheard of "heat domes" over large sections of North America, and uncontrolled wildfires and flooding around the globe, have made it absolutely clear that humankind must quickly limit the emission of greenhouse gases and adapt to the increasingly calamitous consequences of climate disruption. In view of this situation, what is and ought to be the substance of environmental leadership?

Type: Op-Eds (July 20, 2021)
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Author(s): Joel Mintz
Center for Progressive Reform Expands Staff of Policy Analysts

The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) is pleased to announce that it is expanding its staff to strengthen policy expertise and advocacy work in the areas of climate change, worker justice, and equity. M. Isabelle Chaudry and Catalina González joined the organization in mid-July and bring strong policy and social justice experience to CPR. Their unique perspectives will enrich and strengthen the organization’s work at the intersection of racial justice and a sustainable planet.

Type: News Releases (July 19, 2021)
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Author(s): Brian Gumm
Comment to the U.S. EPA on Preventing Chemical Disasters and Cost-Benefit Analysis

In a comment to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), CPR Senior Policy Analyst James Goodwin urges the agency to use any eventual rulemaking within the Risk Management Program to rework how cost-benefit analysis is used to evaluate rules. Goodwin encourages EPA to work with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to take otherwise unquantifiable benefits into account and maximize protections from chemical disasters.

Type: Letters to Agencies (July 15, 2021)
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Author(s): James Goodwin

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