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 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
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
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
Organizations Call on EPA to Protect Communities from Climate-Driven Chemical Disasters

Three national environmental and scientific advocacy groups released a policy brief to respond to the call for information from the Biden administration on ways EPA should take stronger action to protect communities at risk of chemical disasters worsened by hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other climate events.

Type: News Releases (July 7, 2021)
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Author(s): Brian Gumm
Preventing "Double Disasters"

It’s past time to address “double disasters” — hazardous chemical releases by industrial facilities that are worsened by inadequate action in the face of conditions of climate change and natural disasters. As the global climate crisis intensifies, coastal and inland communities are increasingly at risk of natural disasters. When industrial facilities in these communities fail to adequately prepare for extreme storms, wildfires, earthquakes, heat waves, floods, rising sea levels, and other natural disasters, hazardous chemicals stored onsite can ignite, explode, and there may be dangerous and even catastrophic releases that threaten the health and safety of workers and the public. This can lead to a cascading series of harms, including toxic chemical exposures, on top of the effects of the storm itself. This brief spotlights this urgent issue, proposes policy solutions, and calls on federal leaders to take bold and prompt action to solve this problem.

Type: Reports (July 7, 2021)
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Author(s): David Flores, Darya Minovi
Joint Letter to President Biden and the EPA on Strengthening Select Air Pollution Standards

CPR joined dozens of public health, environmental, and other public interest organizations in urging the Biden White House and the EPA to strengthen air pollution standards for ozone and particulate matter. Both substances can cause or worsen a wide range of serious health problems, including asthma, other lung diseases, and cardiovascular conditions.

Type: Letters to Agencies (June 10, 2021)
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Author(s): James Goodwin
The Supreme Court’s Obscure Procedural Ruling in Baltimore’s Climate Case, Explained

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on an important case about whether major oil and gas companies should be held accountable for engaging in a systematic marketing campaign to deceive the public about the catastrophic threat that fossil fuel products pose to the planet. The Court didn’t consider the merits of the case but rather answered an obscure procedural question in a way that permits the defendants to continue to delay litigation in state court, and thereby also serves to deny the public essential information about the fossil fuel industry’s attempt to spread disinformation about its products’ role in fueling the climate crisis.

Type: Op-Eds (May 26, 2021)
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Author(s): Karen Sokol
Climate Action Supporters: The Fossil Fuel Industry Is Not Your Friend

A week after taking office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order “on tackling the climate crisis” that aims to face the challenge comprehensively and equitably. Biden has quickly appointed and seen confirmed a team of leaders who are committed to all aspects of this mission. Our country is finally on the cusp of meaningful climate action. The climate action train is so popular that even fossil fuel companies, which have historically sought to derail it, are now saying they’re on board. We should, of course, welcome all sincere collaborators; the fossil fuel industry is not among them.

Type: Op-Eds (May 2, 2021)
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Author(s): Karen Sokol
Joint Letter to the Maryland Department of the Environment on Fenceline Ammonia Monitoring

CPR joined the Environmental Integrity Project, Assateague Coastal Trust, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, and Chesapeake Legal Alliance to provide the Maryland Department of the Environment with information on ammonia pollution monitoring near concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) for poultry. Those CAFOs are often located near and can pollute fenceline communities on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Type: Letters to Agencies (March 29, 2021)
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