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 at right to narrow the list.
The United States has been experiencing an energy transition for over four decades, and now - thanks to the Clean Power Plan of the Obama Administration and the Paris climate agreement - a clean energy future is moving closer to reality. In his 2017 book, Clean Power Politics, Joseph Tomain describes how clean energy policies have been developed and, more importantly, what's necessary for a successful transition to a clean energy future, including technological innovation, new business models, and regulatory reforms.
As Hurricane Katrina vividly revealed, disaster policy in the United States is broken and needs reform. What can we learn from past disasters—storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and wildfires—about preparing for and responding to future catastrophes? In his 2012 book, Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World, CPR Member Scholar Robert R.M. Verchick argues for a new perspective on disaster law that is based on the principles of environmental protection. His prescription boils down to three simple commands: Go Green, Be Fair, and Keep Safe.
In the drought summer of 2001, a simmering conflict between agricultural and environmental interests in southern Oregon's Upper Klamath Basin turned into a guerrilla war of protests, vandalism, and apocalyptic rhetoric when the federal Bureau of Reclamation shut down the headgates of the Klamath Project to conserve water needed by endangered species. This was the first time in U.S. history that the headgates of a federal irrigation project were closed—and irrigators denied the use of their state water rights—in favor of conservation. Farmers went so far as to mount a brief rebellion to keep the water flowing, but ultimately conceded defeat. In Water War in the Klamath Basin: Macho Law, Combat Biology and Dirty Politics, CPR Member Scholars Holly Doremus and A. Dan Tarlock examine the genesis of the crisis and the fallout from it.
A transformative energy policy – one that favors energy efficiency and renewable resources – can occur only after the United States has abandoned the traditional fossil fuel energy policy, redesigned regulatory systems to open new markets and promote competition among new energy providers, and stimulated private-sector commercial and venture capital investment in energy innovations that can be brought to commercial scale and marketability. In 2006 book, Ending Dirty Energy Policy: Prelude to Climate Change, published by Cambridge University Press, CPR Member Scholar Joseph Tomain explores these issues, offering what one reviewer calls, "a remarkably clear, cogent, and insightful assessment of our options and a plausible path forward."
Drawing insight from a diverse array of sources, including moral philosophy, political theory, cognitive psychology, ecology, and science and technology studies, CPR Member Scholar Douglas Kysar offers a new theoretical basis for understanding environmental law and policy. In his book, Regulating from Nowhere: Environmental Law and the Search for Objectivity, he exposes a critical flaw in the dominant policy paradigm of risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis, which asks policymakers to, in essence, “regulate from nowhere.”
Nearly half a century after Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring helped launch the modern environmental movement, the nation’s environmental statutes are showing signs of age. New challenges have arisen – climate change, most notably, but others that also threaten the safety of the air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat and more. In their new book, Beyond Environmental Law: Policy Proposals for a Better Environmental Future, CPR Member Scholars David Driesen and Alyson Flournoy compile original chapter contributions by leading environmental scholars assessing how to craft effective environmental standards to combat the environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Published in March 2010 by Cambridge University Press, Beyond Environmental Law proposes two new statutes: an Environmental Legacy Act to preserve a defined environmental legacy for future generations, and an Environmental Competition Statute to spark movement to new clean technologies. The first proposal would require for the first time that the federal government define an environmental legacy that it must preserve for future generations. The second would establish a market competition to maximize environmental protection.