Report | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Dangerous Inheritance

As a result of global warming, young Americans today are growing up in a different climate than their parents and grandparents experienced. It is warmer than it used to be. Storms pack more of a punch. Rising seas increasingly flood low-lying land. Large wildfires have grown bigger, more frequent and more expensive to control. People are noticing changes in their own backyards, no matter where they live. Pollution from burning coal, oil and gas is the primary cause of global warming. Without urgent action to reduce global warming pollution, children born today will grow up in a more dangerous world. We can protect our children from the most harmful impacts of global warming by reducing carbon pollution and shifting to cleaner sources of energy. The United States has a critical window of opportunity to lead the world in this effort.

Report | Environment America Research and Policy Center

10 Ways to Help Your City Go Solar

Last month's Shining Cities report detailed how cities are good for solar and solar is good for cities. We've seen some impressive strides across the nation to momentously expand our solar capabilities. But we're not where we need to be yet. To obtain a clean energy future your cities and towns need to do even more. Here's how to push them in the right direction! 

Take the 1st step by signing a letter to your decision makers here! 

Report | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Shining Cities

The use of solar power is expanding rapidly across the United States. By the end of 2014, the United States had 20,500 megawatts (MW) of cumulative solar electric capacity, enough to power four million average U.S. homes. This success is the outcome of federal, state and local programs that are working in concert to make solar power accessible to more Americans, thereby cleaning our air, protecting our health, and hedging against volatile electricity prices.

America’s major cities have played key roles in the clean energy revolution and stand to reap significant benefits from solar energy adoption. As population centers, they are home to the largest electricity markets and can have an important influence on the way we power our grid. Many cities are already benefitting from smart policies that encourage investment in solar energy.

As of the end of 2014, 20 cities – representing just 0.1 percent of U.S. land area – account for 6.5 percent of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the United States. The 65 cities in this report have installed 1.3 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV capacity – more solar PV than was installed in the entire country at the end of 2009. 

Report | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Polluting Politics

Year after year, polls show that more Americans are concerned with the pollution and quality of our waterways more than any other environmental issue. And after toxins in Lake Erie left 400,000 Toledo, OH residents unable to drink the water coming out of their taps last August, the need to protect our waterways is clear and present.

Despite Progress, Pollution Remains

  • More than half of America’s rivers, lakes, and streams aren’t safe for fishing, swimming, or drinking.
  • Industrial facilities still reported dumping more than 206 million pounds of toxic pollution into our waterways in a single year.

Fortunately, Americans are taking action to urge decision-makers to protect our waterways. In a public comment period ending last fall, everyday people submitted more than 800,000 public comments in support of the Obama Administration’s plan to restore Clean Water Act protections to smaller waterways across the country, far outnumbering those opposing the plan.

Many polluting industries and their trade associations, however, oppose these and other safeguards for our waters and our environment, and these entities are deeply involved in our political system.

Indeed, many of the same industrial polluters dumping millions of pounds of pollution in our waterways spend millions on elections and lobbying decision- makers every year.
 

Report | Environment New York Research and Policy Center

Fracking Failures

Fracking is dirty. From the very beginning of clearing a site for drilling, through extraction, transport and delivery of finished products, fracking poses significant risks to our air and water and to human health. People who live and work near fracking sites are at greater risk for respiratory and neurological diseases.

Oil and gas industry spokespeople routinely maintain that the risks of fracking can be minimized by best practices and appropriate state regulation. Not only is this false – fracking is harmful even when drillers follow all the rules – but drillers also regularly violate essential environmental and public health protec- tions, undermining their own claims. A look at recent data from Pennsylvania, where key industry players pledged to clean up their acts, illustrates the frequency with which companies still break the rules.

In Pennsylvania, fracking companies violate rules and regulations meant to protect the environment and human health on virtually a daily basis. Between January 1, 2011, and August 31, 2014, the top 20 offending fracking companies committed an average of 1.5 violations per day.

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