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.

The False Promise of Carbon Capture as a Climate Solution in Louisiana and Beyond

Carbon capture use and storage (“carbon capture”), heavily promoted by the coal, oil, and gas industries, is now at the center of the national climate policy debate. Today when industries burn fossil fuels, the resulting carbon dioxide and methane soars into the atmosphere, traps heat, and contributes to climate breakdown. Using carbon capture technology, industries claim they will recover post-combustion carbon dioxide from their flues and smokestacks and either “store” the gas permanently underground in sedimentary rock or “use” the gas to recover oil or make other products. Proponents claim it’s a win-win — benefiting both the planet and the fossil fuel industry. But, on closer inspection, the large-scale roll-out of such technologies is a false promise.

Type: Reports (Dec. 1, 2021)
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Author(s): Katlyn Schmitt, Robert Verchick, Karen Sokol, David Flores
A Promising Step: Center for Progressive Reform Applauds Passage of Landmark Climate and Social Spending Package in U.S. House

Center for Progressive Reform Executive Director praises U.S. House passage of the "Build Back Better" budget bill, notes its historic investments in climate action, and urges Congress and the White House to go even further to secure a just, inclusive transition to clean, renewable energy.

Type: News Releases (Nov. 19, 2021)
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Author(s): Minor Sinclair
Joint Letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act

CPR joined the Southern Environmental Law Center and more than 150 other organizations in a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, in support of the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act of 2021.

Type: Legislative Testimony (Sept. 27, 2021)
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Testimony to the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Division of Labor and Industry on Heat Stress Protections

CPR Senior Policy Analyst M. Isabelle Chaudry testified to the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) Division of Labor and Industry about heat stress protections for Maryland workers. She provided the agency with recommendations to ensure that its forthcoming standard is effective, strong, and worker-centered.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Sept. 23, 2021)
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Author(s): M. Isabelle Chaudry
Biden's Idealistic UN Message on Climate Change

Addresses by national leaders to the United Nations General Assembly are often broad expressions of lofty ideals, and President Joe Biden's speech Tuesday fell squarely into that category. It covered an extraordinary panoply of global challenges and policy concerns, including controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuilding and strengthening global alliances and regional initiatives, curbing terrorism, protecting human rights (including the rights of women and workers) and lifting up democracy. Biden also committed the United States to advancing human dignity, combating corruption and seeking peace in areas of conflict around the world.

Type: Op-Eds (Sept. 22, 2021)
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Author(s): Joel Mintz
The New Orleans Power Outage Shows How Urgently a Climate-resilient Power Grid Is Needed

Ask just about any New Orleanian to name the most exasperating thing about the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, and you’ll get the same answer. It isn’t the floodwater. Or the roof damage. It’s something more familiar but equally as threatening to life, health and property: power failure. The problem started soon after Ida made landfall, when all eight of our region’s high-voltage transmission lines failed. In one instance, a 400-foot-tall transmission tower supporting power lines spanning the length of more than 10 football fields across the Mississippi River crumpled like a foil candy wrapper.

Type: Op-Eds (Sept. 3, 2021)
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Author(s): Robert Verchick
UN Glasgow Summit May Be Our Last Chance to Prevent Self-Created Climate Disaster

Scientific concerns about the impacts and risks of global climate change are scarcely new. In 1988, those concerns became sufficiently widespread in the scientific community that the United Nations established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a committee that included hundreds of the world’s most distinguished climate scientists, to study the emerging climate problem and its implications. Since its creation, this panel has issued five full extensive reports. These assessments were soundly criticized by some independent climate scientists as understating the significance and dangers of climate change. However, earlier this month, the IPCC seems to have rectified that purported problem. Given this, how should we proceed? By way of example and quiet diplomacy, the United States must use its influence to encourage other nations to meet their climate responsibilities.

Type: Op-Eds (Aug. 24, 2021)
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Author(s): Joel Mintz
Joint Comment to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on Updating Public Participation Guidelines

CPR Policy Analyst Katlyn Schmitt joined the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative in a public comment urging the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to update its public participation guidelines. They urged DEQ to ensure meaningful public involvement in the regulatory activities of the state — including the relative state boards that make decisions related to air pollution, water pollution, and waste management.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Aug. 20, 2021)
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Author(s): Katlyn Schmitt
IPCC Report Shows Urgent Need for Two International Climate Policies

The Interdisciplinary Panel on Climate Change report released Aug. 9 declared that evidence is now unequivocal that human activity is driving global warming, and immediate steps must be taken to mitigate profound changes. Karen C. Sokol, professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and CPR Member Scholar, says two essential international policies must be taken — ending fossil fuel production and providing communities with the resources to adapt.

Type: Op-Eds (Aug. 17, 2021)
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The Policy Significance of the Polluters Pay Climate Fund Act

On Aug. 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the first installment of its latest report assessing the state of scientific knowledge about the climate crisis. As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres put it in a press release, the report is nothing less than “a code red for humanity.” The good news is that the science indicates that there is still time to respond by taking drastic and rapid action to shift from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy and to keep people safe in the face of the dangerous changes in the climate system that have already taken place. That will be expensive, and a group of senators led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) plan to introduce legislation based on the well-established legal and moral principle that those who cause damage should pay for it.

Type: Op-Eds (Aug. 12, 2021)
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Author(s): Karen Sokol

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