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.

Mercury, Risk, & Justice

Mercury, Risk, & Justice, by Catherine A. O'Neill. White Paper 405, October 2004.

Type: Reports (Oct. 13, 2004)
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Author(s): Catherine O'Neill
Enforcing the Clean Water Act in the 21st Century: Harnessing the Power of the Public Spotlight (260 kb download), by Clifford Rechtschaffen. White Paper 404, October 2004.

Enforcing the Clean Water Act in the 21st Century: Harnessing the Power of the Public Spotlight (260 kb download), by Clifford Rechtschaffen. White Paper 404, October 2004.

Type: Reports (Oct. 12, 2004)
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Author(s): Clifford Rechtschaffen
Grazing Decision Cover-Up

Writing for AlterNet and the Center for American Progress website, Joe Feller observes that the Bush administration's proposal to ease environmental controls on livestock grazing on public lands marks the latest example of politics and secrecy trumping professional judgment and transparency.

Type: Op-Eds (Aug. 18, 2004)
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Author(s): Joe Feller
Comments on Volatile Organic Compounds in paint, responding to industry Information Quality Act request

CPR's Sidney Shapiro and Rena Steinzor's August 3, 2004 response to the paint industry's Information Quality Act challenge to state rules on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint: "Wrong in principle, wrong on the law, and wrong on the facts."

Type: Letters to Agencies (Aug. 3, 2004)
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Author(s): Sidney Shapiro, Rena Steinzor, Margaret Giblin
A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment

Over the last quarter century, much of the focus of federal regulatory policy in the areas of health, safety, and the environment has been gradually redirected away from protecting Americans against various harms and toward protecting corporate interests from the plain meaning of protective statutes. This book delivers precisely what its title promises, a re-imagining of federal policy in these areas, with particular focus on the regulatory process. It identifies the failings of the current approach to regulation and proposes innovative, straightforward, and practical solutions for the 21st Century. The 2004, A New Progressive Agenda for Public Health and the Environment, was a seminal collaboration among the Member Scholars of the Center for Progressive Reform (then called the Center for Progressive Regulation).

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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Christopher Schroeder
Try Not to Breathe!

Writing on AlterNet, Catherine O'Neill observes that " Scant attention has been given to the Bush administration's embrace of risk avoidance as the supposed 'solution' to public health hazards and environmental contamination." She makes the case that the burden to avoid unhealthy exposure to pollution should not fall on individuals, but rather on polluters -- but someone needs to explain that to the Bush administration.

Type: Op-Eds (July 12, 2004)
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Author(s): Catherine O'Neill
Dangerous Illusions about Wetlands

Dangerous Illusions about Wetlands, op-ed by Alyson Flournoy

Type: Op-Eds (May 19, 2004)
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Author(s): Alyson Flournoy
Political Intervention: The White House Doctors Mercury Conclusions

Materials on the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site – buried deep inside hundreds of pages of internal documents – reveal the extent to which the White House was willing to override expert scientific conclusions to justify a weak proposal to control mercury emissions from power plants. Federal agencies are required to obtain approval for all major regulatory proposals from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (led by the president's regulatory czar John Graham) within the White House Office of Management and Budget. In flyspecking EPA's mercury proposal, OMB economists and White House officials systematically downplayed scientific conclusions that methyl-mercury exposure causes brain damage in children.

Type: Op-Eds (April 16, 2004)
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Author(s): Rena Steinzor, Lisa Heinzerling
A Perfect Storm: Mercury and the Bush Administration

For the Bush administration, mercury contamination is the regulatory equivalent of the perfect storm. Four separate fields - science, law, economics, and justice - have combined to demand strict and timely controls on the intolerable hazards mercury poses for public health and the environment. While many expected the Bush administration to search for escape routes that favor its friends in the chemical and energy industries - which produce the lion's share of mercury - none were prepared for its headlong plunge into the tallest waves. Just as the doomed fishermen of the Andrea Gail sailed into the storm despite clear warnings, the administration is likewise proceeding with business as usual. This means no requirements for industrial plants to reduce pollution at the smokestack and no expectation that the oldest, dirtiest plants install modern pollution controls. Meanwhile, the clear and present danger posed by mercury is being ignored.

Type: Op-Eds (March 17, 2004)
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Author(s): Lisa Heinzerling, Rena Steinzor
CPR Perspective: 'Grandfathered' Air Pollution Sources and New Source Review

CPR Perspective: 'Grandfathered' Air Pollution Sources and New Source Review, by Victor B. Flatt. CPR's Perspectives Series is a set of monographs by CPR Member Scholars on timely and important health, safety, and environmental topics. Each Perspective provides a thumbnail sketch of the competing arguments concerning a substantive or procedural principle for developing appropriate health, safety and environmental policies, and closes with the Member Scholar-author's proposed approach to the issue.

Type: Reports (March 2, 2003)
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Author(s): Victor Flatt

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