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.

Webinar: Clean Water: Lessons Learned from the Supreme Court's Maui Decision

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.

Type: Webinars (May 28, 2020)
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Author(s): Steph Tai, Amanda Cohen Leiter, Robert Verchick
Webinar: Protecting Our Communities Through Sustainable Agriculture

Over the past two decades, Delmarva agriculture has shifted from traditional, diversified family farming to a more industrialized system of raising animals. Large, powerful companies dictate how animals are raised, processed, and sold and bear no responsibility for the public health impacts and environmental degradation in our local communities. The disastrous consequences have been highlighted, and in some cases exacerbated, by the current COVID-19 crisis. During a May 26, 2020, virtual town hall, regional experts and local community members shared the latest science, regulatory and policy actions, community perspectives, and possible solutions. The town hall was presented free with support from the Town Creek Foundation.

Type: Webinars (May 26, 2020)
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Author(s): Darya Minovi
Joint Letter with Chesapeake Accountability Project to Maryland Department of the Environment on Compliance During COVID-19 Pandemic

CPR joined with other members of the Chespeake Accountability Project, urging the Maryland Department of the Environment to gather and share information about polluters' alleged inability to comply with permit requirements because of the coronavirus pandemic, and to ensure strong whistleblower protections.

Type: Letters to Agencies (May 21, 2020)
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Author(s): Matt Shudtz
Time to decarbonize 'critical infrastructure'

Writing in The Advocate (Baton Rouge and New Orleans), Member Scholar Karen Sokol observes that, " During the pandemic, the [energy] industry is using its 'critical infrastructure' status to further accelerate its polluting activities. The industry asked the Trump administration for an indefinite suspension of its obligations to comply with basic environmental and public health protections even though communities near polluting facilities have suffered higher death rates from COVID-19. The administration responded quickly, depriving communities of these vital safeguards with no clear date for reinstating them."

Type: Op-Eds (May 21, 2020)
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Author(s): Karen Sokol
Comments on EPA 'Censored Science' Rule

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."

Type: Letters to Agencies (May 18, 2020)
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Author(s): James Goodwin, Darya Minovi
Comments to OSHA on Improving the Whistleblower Protection Program

Comment letter to OSHA ahead of its Whistleblower Stakeholder Meeting on May 12, 2020, providing recommendations on how the agency can address key issues and improve its administration of the Whistleblower Protection Program.

Type: Letters to Agencies (May 5, 2020)
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Author(s): Katie Tracy
As coronavirus infections peak, profit-driven hospital systems must be held accountable

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.

Type: Op-Eds (May 1, 2020)
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Author(s): Shalanda H. Baker
Our Chemical Regulatory Program Is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It.

Writing in Undark, CPR Member Scholar Wendy Wagner and co-author Will Walker write that the existing framework for chemical regulation puts too much burden on EPA and too little on manufacturers.

Type: Op-Eds (April 30, 2020)
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Author(s): Wendy Wagner
Webinar: Climate Justice: Vulnerability and Resilience to COVID-19 and the Climate Crisis

On CPR's April 29, 2020, webinar, participants will hear from leading experts on pandemics, public health, and climate change, as part of our series of Climate Justice webinars. Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana is an expert in epidemic and disaster management, with decades of experience advising federal, state, and local officials on health security. Dr. Aaron Bernstein brings experience as a pediatrician on the front lines and cutting-edge expertise on the intersection of public health and climate change. Finally, seasoned environmental lawyer and CPR Member Scholar Daniel Farber offers expertise in legal and policy tools, such as the Stafford Act, that may be used to help protect vulnerable communities from bearing the greatest burden of the pandemic.

Type: Webinars (April 29, 2020)
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Author(s): Daniel Farber, Darya Minovi
Opinion analysis: The Justices' purpose-full reading of the Clean Water Act

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."

Type: Op-Eds (April 23, 2020)
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Author(s): Lisa Heinzerling

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