environmental-protest-wide.jpg
Feb. 4, 2021 by Katlyn Schmitt

Old Dominion Weighs Bills to Curb Climate Change, Protect Health and Environment

Virginia's General Assembly is more than halfway through its legislative session — and state lawmakers are considering several important bills that would address environmental justice, pipelines, climate change, and public health. If passed, these bills will establish lasting environmental, health, and climate change protections for Virginia and its communities. The bills we're watching would:

  • Turn the Commonwealth's stated environmental justice goals into a reality

    The Omnibus Environmental Justice Bill (House Bill 2074 and Senate Bill 1318) would direct Virginia's state and local agencies to adopt agency-specific environmental justice policies by October. Specifically, it would require agencies to evaluate the consequences of covered actions (such as approving a new natural gas pipeline or granting a permit to construct one) on low-income communities and communities of color, which face disproportionate harm from polluters.

    The bill would also require agencies to consider the cumulative impact of their actions on "frontline" workers and communities on the "fence line" of polluting industries and give these historically disenfranchised groups ample opportunity to participate in agency decision-making processes.

  • Increase oversight and accountability for pipeline companies

    Virginia's pipeline companies have a history of violating federal water quality standards when building new pipelines. Senate Bill 1265 would …

Feb. 4, 2021 by Maggie Dewane
DC_Metro image.jpg

Born February 4, 1913, Rosa Parks would become a leader of the civil rights movement. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, she refused to vacate her seat on a public transportation bus for a white man. Her decision inspired the Black community of Montgomery to boycott buses for over a year. In 1956, a federal court deemed that bus segregation was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

When she later penned her autobiography, Parks wrote that though she had seen progress in her lifetime, there was still much work to be done in the way of racial justice.

Today, on her birthday, racial equity and progressive groups across the country are commemorating #TransitEquityDay. The effort promotes awareness of the inequities in public transit, which is frequently inaccessible and unaffordable. What’s more, to combat the climate crisis and air pollution that …

Feb. 3, 2021 by Katie Tracy
Frontline-Worker-Mask-iStock-rights-secured-wider.jpg

Since taking office, President Joe Biden has signaled a new openness to the concerns of our nation’s workers — and we at CPR are joining our allies today in calling on his administration to go much further to make workplace safety a top priority.

Biden’s early actions are auspicious. In his first days in office, Biden appointed qualified leaders to key labor posts and signed several executive orders to improve working conditions. Among those orders is one that directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue improved guidance to employers on protecting workers and to determine whether to issue an emergency standard to prevent and mitigate exposure to COVID-19.

Biden also withdrew an effort by the Trump administration to accelerate processing speeds at poultry plants, which would have forced workers to work faster and more closely together on the factory floor — and put workers …

Feb. 2, 2021 by Hannah Wiseman
solar-panels-home-wide.jpg

As President Biden continues to roll out executive orders prioritizing climate change, it is increasingly clear that there will be a relatively rapid U.S. shift toward renewable energy from the sun, wind and other sources.

Indeed, many states are already pushing ahead with ambitious renewable and clean energy policies. These policies will reduce air pollution, spur extensive economic development in rural areas and make progress on the climate front.

This “revolution,” as Biden calls it, is critical. But the bulk of renewables that have been built in the United States are large, centralized projects requiring thousands of miles of transmission lines — primarily in rural communities. A revolution that continues to prioritize these projects risks failure. It threatens to create an infrastructural path dependence like the one that “master builder” Robert Moses sparked in the 1950s. The federal highway …

Jan. 27, 2021 by Katie Tracy, Katlyn Schmitt
farmworkers-ca-strawberry-field-wide.jpg

The Maryland General Assembly is kicking into full gear — and we at the Center for Progressive Reform are tracking bills that would protect the health and safety of Maryland workers in the food and farm sectors. These protections are urgently needed to protect these workers from COVID-19 infections and keep the public healthy and safe. The bills we're watching would:

  • Protect workers from disease

    Our nation's workers are going the extra mile to help us survive the pandemic. But Maryland isn't providing workers across the state with the protections they need to stay safe and healthy. Maryland lawmakers are considering legislation that would take a step in that direction. Del. Kriselda Valderrama (D) has introduced a bill (House Bill 124) that would require the state to adopt a temporary emergency standard to protect workers, including food and farm workers, from COVID-19. The bill would also …

Jan. 27, 2021 by Hannah Wiseman
oil-well-jack-wide.jpg

When President Trump took office in 2017, the Department of the Interior quickly moved to lease nearly all offshore lands for oil and gas development. The map was astounding; for decades, there had been relatively limited drilling in offshore waters, and many state officials and advocates were shocked to see a proposal for such extensive leasing of offshore federal lands. Indeed, notoriously conservative Rick Scott of Florida entered into a handshake deal with former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to avoid drilling near the state. Trump's Interior Department also attempted to lease vast swaths of onshore public lands for fossil fuel development.

President Biden has predictably followed a different approach, announcing his intent to place a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal onshore and offshore lands. This is a sensible solution.

The United States is already working to transition to more low-carbon energy production, and oil …

Jan. 22, 2021 by Joseph Tomain
richard-glick.jpg

President Joe Biden named Commissioner Richard Glick as Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) January 21. Glick succeeds Chairman James Danly. The Commission is expected to retain its Republican majority until Commissioner Neil Chatterjee's term is up on June 30.

Glick previously served as a FERC Commissioner nominated by President Trump in August 2017 and confirmed by the Senate later that year.

Before joining FERC, Glick was general counsel for the Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, serving as a senior policy advisor on numerous issues, including electricity and renewable energy. Prior to that, he was vice president of government affairs for Iberdrola, a Spanish multinational electric utility. At Iberdrola, Glick focused on the company’s renewable energy, electric and gas utility, and natural gas storage businesses in the United States. He ran the company’s Washington, DC, office and was responsible …

Jan. 21, 2021 by Katie Tracy
WorkerSafety_welder_wide.jpg

Editor's update: On April 9, 2021, President Biden nominated Doug Parker to lead OSHA. If confirmed, he'll replace Jim Frederick as Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health in the Department of Labor.

President Joe Biden has tapped three seasoned experts to jumpstart the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal government's main worker health and safety agency. Jim Frederick will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA and will head the agency until a permanent Assistant Secretary is confirmed. Frederick’s experience includes over two decades working for the United Steel Workers' health, safety, and environment department. In his latest role, Frederick served as the assistant director and principal investigator for the department. Biden has also named Chip Hughes, former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Worker Education and Training Program, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pandemic and Emergency Response. This will …

Jan. 12, 2021 by Victor Flatt
stream_wide.jpg

One of the most vexing environmental law issues of the last three decades is the scope of the term "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) in the Clean Water Act — and what marshes, lakes, and streams fall under its purview. A connected legal question stretching back even further is how much deference to give agencies in policymaking and legal interpretations.

These issues are present in both the Trump administration's final "Waters of the United States" rule, which narrowly defines waters subject to the act, and the Biden administration's likely attempt to expand that definition. The Trump administration's narrow approach dramatically reduces the number of waterways under federal protection. A broader definition would restore and possibly expand protections to better safeguard public and environmental health.

A new study on the economic analyses in the Trump rule (which I co-authored) concludes that its supporting economic analyses rely on questionable …

Jan. 11, 2021 by Shalanda H. Baker, Alice Kaswan
climate-justice-unsplash-wide.jpg

The Black Lives Matter movement highlights long-standing inequities and amplifies the drumbeat for climate justice and an equitable transition to a clean economy. With the incoming Biden-Harris administration and a growing list of environmental justice advocates at the helm, it's time to move from rhetoric to reality. We offer concrete proposals to turn climate justice goals into climate justice policies.

The call for climate justice has multiple dimensions, from ensuring an equitable transition to clean energy for vulnerable communities and workers disrupted by the move away from fossil fuels, to extending the benefits of our economy-wide shift to those who have historically been left behind. Even more than past environmental challenges, decarbonizing will not be a narrow, technical undertaking. We need a holistic, justice-centered perspective to shape our vision for a green economy and meet the pervasive environmental and …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
May 21, 2021

Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Biden EPA

April 29, 2021

Biden and the Environment: The First 100 Days

April 27, 2021

Memo to Biden: Regulation Is Infrastructure

April 6, 2021

Equity and Justice Should Begin at Home

March 24, 2021

Biden's Overhaul Effort Should Include the 'Basic Principles' of Regulation, Too

March 23, 2021

To Democratize Regulation, Reform Regulatory Analysis

March 15, 2021

Baton Rouge Advocate Op-ed: Biden Must Defend His Climate Policies from Industry Attack