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.

Groundbreaking Report Exposes Threat Unregulated Chemical Storage Tanks Pose to Virginia and the Nation

Federal and state government agencies are failing to protect millions of Americans — including Virginians — from spills, explosions, and releases from aboveground chemical storage tanks (ASTs). These unregulated tanks often store a large volume of toxic and flammable chemicals, and governments are vastly underestimating the threats they pose to public health and our environment, according to a new report published by the Center for Progressive Reform.

Type: News Releases (Dec. 8, 2021)
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Author(s): David Flores, Darya Minovi
Tanks for Nothing: The Decades-Long Failure to Protect the Public from Hazardous Chemical Spills

Throughout most of the U.S., the public is not protected from spills and other disasters involving storage of hazardous chemicals — including toxic and flammable substances — in aboveground tanks. For decades, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and most states have refused to act to protect the health and safety of workers and communities, as well as water and natural resources, from the threat of hazardous chemical tank fires, spills, and explosions. In the absence of federal action, 10 states have established comprehensive programs that impose registration, inspection, and design and siting requirements to prevent releases from aboveground chemical storage facilities. Some of these state programs were enacted by lawmakers in response to catastrophic incidents, like a fatal explosion in Delaware or the Elk River leak in 2014 in West Virginia that contaminated drinking water for hundreds of thousands of residents. Several years ago, Virginia studied the issue of unregulated chemical storage and found that aboveground storage tanks pose a threat to the safety of Virginians and their drinking water. At that time, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recommended action, but policymakers chose instead to wait on an EPA rule that never came.

Type: Reports (Dec. 8, 2021)
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Author(s): David Flores, Darya Minovi, Johnathan Clark
Webinar: Innovative Strategies to Prevent Climate-Driven Pollution and Chemical Disasters

Our current pollution prevention policies are static in a time of great and rapid disruption driven by the climate crisis. The growing risk of harm from climate-driven industrial pollution and chemical disasters demands a just, innovative policy response. In our November 18 toxic floodwaters webinar, participants learned about the legal and policy challenges to addressing these hazards, as well as litigation and regulatory solutions proposed by leading experts and practitioners.

Type: Webinars (Nov. 18, 2020)
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Author(s): Robin Kundis Craig, David Flores
Webinar: Environmental Justice and Public Health Implications of Extreme Weather and Toxic Chemicals

October 2020 Webinar: High-risk chemical facilities and other hazardous industrial sites are disproportionately located near communities where Black, Brown, and low-wealth families live, learn, and play. In 2012, floodwaters from Superstorm Sandy submerged some of these facilities, carrying chemicals and heavy metals into people’s homes. On October 20, 2020, CPR hosted a webinar featuring experts on the topic.

Type: Webinars (Oct. 20, 2020)
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Author(s): Rebecca Bratspies, Darya Minovi
CPR Comments on DEQ Air Permit for Norfolk Naval Shipyard Power Plant

CPR analysts Darya Minovi and David Flores submitted a public comment on Virginia's draft air pollution permit for a proposed natural gas and diesel-burning power plant at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth. Citing CPR's Toxic Floodwaters study of the James River Watershed, the letter explores the risks of harm that the facility and others in the area pose to the low-income and minority fenceline communities already disproportionately burdened by industrial pollution.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Oct. 7, 2020)
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Author(s): Darya Minovi, David Flores
Webinar: Protecting Communities and their Water Resources from Extreme Weather and Chemical Disaster

CPR's September 24, 2020, webinar focused on the ways climate impacts are compounding industrial disasters and impacting water resources around the nation. Toxic spills from industrial sites pollute waterways and threaten the safety of communities already burdened by pollution and the climate crisis. Participants discussed collaborative research and advocacy in Virginia and the Gulf Coast, as well as various analytical and regulatory tools for preventing climate-induced chemical disasters.

Type: Webinars (Sept. 24, 2020)
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Author(s): David Flores, Victor Flatt
Fact Sheet: Toxic Floodwaters in Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Newport News

CPR's June 2020 fact sheet describes the threat of toxic floodwaters resulting from more and more severe weather events combined with a concentration of industrial facilities subject to flooding in the Hampton Roads region. Such toxic floodwater events would have a particularly severe impact on low-income and minority communities in the region.

Type: Reports (June 23, 2020)
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Toxic Floodwaters: Public Health Risks and Vulnerability to Chemical Spills Triggered by Extreme Weather

Coastal communities in the United States are largely unprepared for the projected effects of the climate crisis, including more intense storm surges, sea level rise, increased precipitation, and other drivers of coastal and inland flooding. That flooding is damaging enough on its own, but in recent years, chemical spills triggered by extreme weather, such as hurricanes, have become more frequent, exposing nearby communities to toxic chemicals and hazardous waste in the midst of natural disaster. In this web article, CPR's Darya Minovi discusses the danger and offers recommendations.

Type: Reports (June 9, 2020)
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Author(s): Darya Minovi
Trump rollback of two safeguards increases threat of chemical disaster in Virginia

In an op-ed in the Roanoke Times, CPR's David Flores describes the real-world impact of President Trump's push to roll back safeguards against environmental disasters.

Type: Op-Eds (Jan. 1, 2020)
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Author(s): David Flores
A Call to Action on the Risk of Toxic Floodwaters in Virginia

A Call to Action on the Risk of Toxic Floodwaters in Virginia, op-ed by Noah Sachs and David Flores

Type: Op-Eds (March 13, 2019)
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Author(s): David Flores

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