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Environment

INSTITUTE INDEX: How Build Back Better would transform dirty rural electric systems

December 1, 2021 - Born of the New Deal's anti-poverty initiatives, rural electric cooperatives today serve 42 million Americans, most in the South, Midwest, and Great Plains. They still depend heavily on coal, but the $1.8 trillion spending bill passed by the House has a provision giving billions of dollars to speed their transition to renewables. Will it survive corporate Democrats' obstructionism in the Senate?

VOICES: Frontline workers and communities demand real solutions at COP26

October 28, 2021 - Effective climate action should center the priorities of those first and most impacted, write Judy Anne Asman of the Just Transition Alliance and Jonathan Alingu of Central Florida Jobs With Justice. Their groups are leading a delegation of frontline workers and community organizers to participate inside and outside the upcoming 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

INSTITUTE INDEX: The slow move toward 'forever chemical' regulation

October 27, 2021 - After being pressed for decades by environmental health advocates, the EPA recently announced a plan to regulate toxic PFAS chemicals widely used in consumer products, from non-stick cookware to dental floss. But the FDA still hasn't banned the cancer-causing substances from fast-food wrappers and containers, and Southern states have been reluctant to take action on their own.

INSTITUTE INDEX: How Entergy thwarted energy resilience in Louisiana

September 10, 2021 - Hurricane Ida's devastation of Louisiana's electric grid and the deadly power outages that resulted show the risk that highly centralized generation systems present in an era of increasingly destructive climate change-driven weather events. Yet Entergy — a Fortune 500 company that's the main power provider for the hard-hit southeastern part of the state, including New Orleans — has fought plans to move toward cleaner community-based generation. Will Ida mark a turning point?

INSTITUTE INDEX: Southern utilities fiddle with inadequate emissions cuts as Earth burns

August 18, 2021 - Warning that human activity continues to intensify global warming, the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also says the most dangerous effects can still be avoided if we act now. But the South's two worst climate-polluting electric utilities — Duke Energy and Southern Company — are dragging their feet with transition plans that don't do nearly enough to curb heat-trapping emissions.

INSTITUTE INDEX: Climate watchdogs challenge Duke Energy's polluting 15-year plan

March 8, 2021 - Relying heavily on fracked gas, the North Carolina utility giant's proposal faces challenges from environmentalists who say it would be a disaster for the climate, and from businesses that fear it will lead to big bills for unnecessary plants. The state's utility regulators will make the final decision, and they're holding a virtual hearing on March 16 to take comments from the public.

INSTITUTE INDEX: The disaster-stricken South looks to Biden for climate justice

January 29, 2021 - Tied for the hottest year on record globally, 2020 also brought the most $1 billion disasters ever in the U.S., and they took a disproportionate toll on the South's most vulnerable communities. With most states in the region controlled by a party whose platform downplays climate change, environmental advocates are looking to the new president for help. Here's what the Biden administration has done so far.

INSTITUTE INDEX: What Georgia's Senate runoffs mean for U.S. climate policy

December 14, 2020 - The Jan. 5 runoff elections for two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia will determine which party controls the Senate — and that will be a critical factor for whether the Biden administration will be able to advance its ambitious policy goals and cut greenhouse gas emissions to a level that gives the international community a chance at staving off even more devastating climate disruption.

THE STAKES 2020: Catherine Coleman Flowers on the environmental justice movement and elections

October 23, 2020 - Across the rural South's Black Belt, the lack of adequate sewage and water infrastructure has created serious public health problems. We spoke with Catherine Coleman Flowers, a longtime environmental justice activist in rural Alabama and the recent recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, about her work to draw attention to the region's intersecting crises and how grassroots activism can impact federal policy.