Baltimore Sun Op-Ed: Preparing for Hurricanes Should Not Fall to Ratepayers
by Matt Shudtz | September 20, 2017
This op-ed originally ran in the Baltimore Sun.
The full scope of the heartbreaking devastation wrought by hurricanes Harvey and Irma — the human, economic and environmental toll — may not be completely understood for years. As we do what we can to help the victims, it is also time to think about how we can prepare for the inevitable here in Baltimore. After all, Baltimore floods more than most other cities in the United States and gets little help from our inadequate water infrastructure.
Every time a major storm visits our region, millions of gallons of sewage overflow from Baltimore's antiquated sewers. Worse, our sewer system has failed time and again under even the smallest rainfalls. In August, federal, state and city regulators and lawyers finalized a deal to modify the legal settlement originally signed in 2002 to upgrade sewer infrastructure by 2016.
The good news is that the projects needed to keep sewage from flowing into our basements and the Inner Harbor are some of the same ones needed to prepare for tropical storms. Modern stormwater management technology provides us with the ability to make our city "spongier" — to absorb rain and slow down polluted runoff before it pools in streets, overwhelms storm drains, damages property and spills into local waters.
But an important question is how we'll pay for the work. Arguably, the primary reason that Baltimore failed to
As Irma Hits Florida, Trump's Risk Is Different from His Neighbors'
As Hurricane Irma takes aim at the Florida coast, questions about property and community vulnerabilities abound, including for some of President Donald Trump's properties. A brief analysis by the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has found that while Trump's properties, including Mar-a-Lago, face significant risk of damage from the hurricane and from the ongoing impacts of climate change, surrounding neighborhoods and communities will have a much more difficult time rebuilding and recovering from the storm. Three Trump developments in South
Trump Administration Policies Will Make Americans More Vulnerable to Toxic Floodwaters
As the country bears witness to the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, a storm unlike any other, the Trump administration's policy of rolling back worker, emergency response, and environmental safeguards will all but ensure that victims of future flooding events will be exposed to toxic contamination. Over just a 36-hour period, an estimated 9 trillion gallons of rainwater deluged Texas, affecting millions and displacing tens of thousands along the Gulf Coast and in Houston. As the rainfall and flooding wear on this week, emergency
As Texas Floods, President Trump Backpedals on Resiliency
With a sense of horror, the nation is watching waters rise in southeastern Texas as now-Tropical Storm Harvey spins across the Gulf Coast. While no individual storm can be attributed to climate change, scientists predict more intense storms, and the wisdom of preparing for future floods has never been clearer. And yet, less than two weeks ago, President Trump issued an executive order that rolled back a federal flood standard designed to anticipate intense flooding. Instead of investing in infrastructure
Law Professors from Every Coast Ask SCOTUS to Weigh in on Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Case
Last week, more than two dozen law professors from around the country – many of them CPR Member Scholars – filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging a fresh look at a lower court decision with sweeping implications for the balance of power between states and the federal government. The issue is vital to Louisiana because it affects whether oil and gas companies can be held liable for decades of damage they have done to the state's
Trump's Deregulatory Agenda Is an Assault on Climate-Threatened Communities
Late last week, we shared our first take on how the Trump administration's 2017 deregulatory agenda threatens to knock the wheels off of agency efforts to protect workers, consumers, and vulnerable populations – like children and homeless families – from air pollution, flooding, and explosions in the workplace, among other hazards. After some additional research, we have also found that the administration's agenda takes aim at safeguards for victims of disasters, such as communities that face the threat of displacement
Combating Climate Change and Health Risks through a Carbon Fee
by Amro Ali | July 06, 2017
No one is safe from the effects of climate change. That's the key takeaway from a March report by nearly a dozen highly respected medical organizations that studied the link between climate change and risks to our health. And these aren't far-off impacts or theoretical dangers: human-driven climate change is already making people sick. Here's just one example: A woman in southwestern Pennsylvania who had never heard of Lyme disease saw five of her friends contract the illness in recent
As Waters Rise, Trump Wants to Cut Coastal Protection Efforts Off at the Knees
On Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will appear before a House Appropriations subcommittee to explain how he plans to square the Trump administration's proposed 31-percent cut to EPA's budget with its statutory obligations to protect the environment. Spoiler alert: There's no plan. The proposition – implementing and enforcing safeguards related to water, air, and hazardous materials while cutting a quarter of the agency's workforce – is preposterous. Some House members are likely to press Pruitt on a
Trump's Proposed Budget Cuts to Climate Programs Hurt American Agriculture
President Trump's historic retreat from the Paris climate accord last week is just the latest installment in the story of how his administration's anti-science and anti-protections policies with respect to climate change could do grave harm to many aspects of American life. His proposed budget is likely to be the next chapter. While Trump sees the issue through coal-colored lenses, it's clear to anyone paying attention to actual science that that the impacts of climate change have and will continue
Paris Withdrawal Could Lead to 'Lost Century'
The President’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement is a tragedy born of his failure to appreciate the vital importance of U.S. leadership in the world. It’s particularly regrettable coming as it does on the heels of his performance in Europe last week, during which his refusal to embrace the fundamental underpinnings of NATO rocked the alliance. By abandoning the Paris Agreement, Trump continues on a reckless path of pretending that the dire threat posed by
Slowly and Grudgingly, Change Is Coming to Coal Country
A sign of the times: Fox News has reported, without comment, that the Kentucky Coal Museum is installing solar panels to save money. This is part of a larger trend. On Saturday, the New York Times reported on shifts in power production in states like West Virginia and Kentucky. For instance, Appalachian Power has “closed three coal-fired plants and converted two others to gas, reducing its dependence on coal to 61 percent last year, down from 74 percent in 2012.” In response to an
Thinking Globally, Acting Transnationally
The U.S. government obviously isn't going to be taking a global leadership role regarding climate change, not for the next four years. At one time, that would have been the end of the story: the only way to accomplish anything internationally was through national governments. But we live in a different world today, and there are other channels for international action against climate change. Today, transnational networks of state and local governments, private firms, and NGOs are actively addressing climate
Trump's Fossil Fuel Dream Team Faces Climate Change's Checks and Balances
Due to the blinders of his fossil fuel dream team and the industry's myths denying climate change (#ExxonKnew), President Donald Trump seems once again on the verge of withdrawing from the Paris climate change accord. That's a fool's errand. Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement would be a major blow to U.S. standing and leadership in the world. It would also slow our country's efforts to do our part in avoiding catastrophic climate change. So why is he even considering a
Reaching Higher Ground in the Face of Climate Change
We've seen a flurry of news coverage in the last several weeks on climate migration, displacement, and relocation. In a new report published today, the Center for Progressive Reform explores these issues and examines tools and resources that communities can use when faced with the challenges of relocating out of harm's way. The New York Times Magazine recently profiled one homeowner in Norfolk, Virginia, who purchased a home that had never been flooded, but in the ten years since has
News and Observer Op-ed: Trump Can Order, but Federal Judges Will Decide on Climate Rules
This op-ed originally ran in the Raleigh News & Observer. President Trump's new "energy" executive order is an attempt to roll back Obama regulations on climate change, and even make considerations of climate change disappear from much of the policymaking process altogether. That's quite a lot to accomplish by executive order, and despite all the media attention he got for it, the president is eventually going to discover that he can't eradicate climate realities from federal consideration with the stroke
Trump's Executive Order on Climate Policy Rollbacks, Annotated
Donald Trump's anti-climate action executive order is, as CPR President Rob Verchick puts it, a classic act of bullying. As I describe in an annotated version of the order, it is also irrational, failing to achieve the very aims it purports to support while inflicting damage to our climate, environment, natural resources, wildlife, and yes – even our coal miners. In the annotation, I walk through each section of the order, providing an analysis and commentary on just what it
Sowing Confusion and Doubt, Trump Attempts Climate Policy Rollbacks
Donald Trump has been in office only 68 days, and already I've passed the threshold from shock to boredom. His order to erase climate change from federal policy, preceded by a speech before captive members of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only seals the deal. I served at the EPA during President Obama's first term, helping that agency and others prepare for the hazards of climate change. That work is serious and complicated and subtle. Trump, of course, is anything
Yale economist William Baumol has written extensively on the connection between innovation and economic productivity. He has demonstrated that the United States has long been committed to promoting innovation, and through innovation, virtuous circles of economic growth are created. Unfortunately, the current administration appears committed to curtailing, even stopping, that growth. The president's first budget has many targets. One, though, directly contradicts Baumol's research and, more problematically, directly contradicts the U.S. Constitution. From the Founding, it has been a fundamental