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.
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."
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.
In April 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruled in favor of Hawaiian environmentalists who had waged a 12-year battle to ensure that sewage discharged into the Pacific Ocean via groundwater was subject to a Clean Water Act permit. CPR’s Member Scholars played important roles in convincing the Justices that we need a more scientifically relevant conception of the Clean Water Act’s coverage, and they joined key participants in the litigation in a May 28, 2020, webinar on the topic.
In comments to the EPA on its proposed 'Censored Science' rule, CPR's Goodwin and Minovi write, "EPA’s rulemaking rejects widely accepted scientific standards and will allow the agency to cherry-pick studies that align with the administration’s agenda ... [and] will be prohibitively costly to the agency, both in terms of taxpayer dollars and the unnecessary and avoidable harms to public health and the environment. Furthermore, the EPA has incorrectly identified ... the legal authority for this rulemaking."