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.

Joint Testimony in Support of Maryland House Bill 250 — Private Well Safety Act of 2022

The Center for Progressive Reform joined other public interest organizations in testimony in support of Maryland House Bill 250 — the Private Well Safety Act of 2022.

Type: Legislative Testimony (Feb. 2, 2022)
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Community Science Initiative Detects Nitrate in Lower Eastern Shore Residents’ Private Wells

A team of environmental policy advocates, community members, and public health scientists have partnered on an initiative to assess and safeguard drinking water for residents of Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore who rely on private wells. The group, which includes representatives from The Assateague Coastal Trust, Center for Progressive Reform (CPR), Environmental Integrity Project, and the University of Maryland School of Public Health, created the Lower Shore Safe Well Water Initiative to protect public health by engaging residents of Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties in community science focused on drinking water quality in the region.

Type: News Releases (Jan. 31, 2022)
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Testimony in Support of Virginia House Bill 899 — Above Ground Storage Tank Regulation

The Center for Progressive Reform joined other organizations in support of Virginia House Bill 899, which would create a registration program for non-petroleum aboveground storage tanks in the Commonwealth.

Type: Legislative Testimony (Jan. 31, 2022)
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Why the Chemical Industry Is an Overlooked Climate Foe — and What to Do About It

Climate change is quickly evolving into climate catastrophe, and there’s a narrow window of time to do something about it. While the world works on solutions, there’s surprisingly little focus on the chemical industry, which accounts for roughly 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions — as well as other environmental harms.

Type: Op-Eds (Jan. 28, 2022)
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Author(s): Darya Minovi
The Supreme Court’s Plan to Block Climate Action We Haven’t Even Taken Yet

On Feb. 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the first of an expected wave of cases challenging governmental action to address the climate crisis. The court’s grant of four petitions seeking review in this case—two by coal companies and two by states—portends that the six conservative justices will erect significant barriers to meaningful climate policy and will continue to interfere with democratic governance in disregard of the rule of law.

Type: Op-Eds (Jan. 25, 2022)
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Author(s): Karen Sokol
Webinar: Decades of Unregulated Chemical Storage Harm Communities and the Environment

Tucked away in industrial parks, towering along railways and waterfronts, and on pallets outside neighborhood home improvement and agricultural supply stores, tanks containing hazardous chemicals are everywhere in the landscape. When it comes to public protections for our health and safety, however, these unregulated chemical storage facilities are missing from public policy. In a January 13 webinar, public health and environmental policy experts answered questions about the threat these tanks pose and offered solutions to this longstanding problem. Our recent report on unregulated aboveground chemical storage served as a springboard for the discussion.

Type: Webinars (Jan. 13, 2022)
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Author(s): Darya Minovi
Enron's Collapse 20 Years Later -- Lessons Not Learned

In December 2001, the wunderkind energy company Enron collapsed spectacularly, destroying $67 billion in assets held by mutual funds, retirees and individual stock investors. Some commentary 20 years later has focused on how Enron heralded the first of companies making money by “disruption"—even as some of this disruption also led to negative impacts on society. There is no doubt that, like Facebook, even Enron’s legitimate money-making enterprises had some negative spillovers as a side effect of wealth creation by innovation. But the problem isn’t with the idea of seeking innovation or testing disruptive ways of doing things; the problem is that government regulators, then and now, have been starved of their ability to effectively channel market forces and private innovation to wealth creation while avoiding negative externalities. Truly supporting the private sector, innovation, and wealth creation, requires more government regulation, not less.

Type: Op-Eds (Dec. 27, 2021)
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Author(s): Victor Flatt
Groundbreaking Report Exposes Threat Unregulated Chemical Storage Tanks Pose to Virginia and the Nation

Federal and state government agencies are failing to protect millions of Americans — including Virginians — from spills, explosions, and releases from aboveground chemical storage tanks (ASTs). These unregulated tanks often store a large volume of toxic and flammable chemicals, and governments are vastly underestimating the threats they pose to public health and our environment, according to a new report published by the Center for Progressive Reform.

Type: News Releases (Dec. 8, 2021)
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Author(s): David Flores, Darya Minovi
Tanks for Nothing: The Decades-Long Failure to Protect the Public from Hazardous Chemical Spills

Throughout most of the U.S., the public is not protected from spills and other disasters involving storage of hazardous chemicals — including toxic and flammable substances — in aboveground tanks. For decades, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and most states have refused to act to protect the health and safety of workers and communities, as well as water and natural resources, from the threat of hazardous chemical tank fires, spills, and explosions. In the absence of federal action, 10 states have established comprehensive programs that impose registration, inspection, and design and siting requirements to prevent releases from aboveground chemical storage facilities. Some of these state programs were enacted by lawmakers in response to catastrophic incidents, like a fatal explosion in Delaware or the Elk River leak in 2014 in West Virginia that contaminated drinking water for hundreds of thousands of residents. Several years ago, Virginia studied the issue of unregulated chemical storage and found that aboveground storage tanks pose a threat to the safety of Virginians and their drinking water. At that time, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recommended action, but policymakers chose instead to wait on an EPA rule that never came.

Type: Reports (Dec. 8, 2021)
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Author(s): David Flores, Darya Minovi, Johnathan Clark
Carbon Capture Technology Will Worsen the Climate Crisis and Further Endanger Marginalized Communities, Policy Brief Finds

Policymakers, philanthropists, and advocates in Louisiana and across the nation must reject the fossil fuel industry’s initiatives to capture carbon emissions and store them underground in sedimentary rock and instead pursue solutions that have proven power to curb the climate crisis and protect marginalized communities. So concludes a new policy brief published by the Center for Progressive Reform. The brief reveals the false promise of large-scale carbon capture use and storage technologies and offers specific recommendations that policymakers, philanthropists, and advocates can use to oppose large-scale rollouts of this technology and instead support just solutions to the climate crisis.

Type: News Releases (Dec. 1, 2021)
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Author(s): Katlyn Schmitt, Robert Verchick, Karen Sokol

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