Americans love clean water. Every year, millions of us flock to our waterways to swim, surf, or go tubing, kayaking or fishing. That’s why the federal Clean Water Act set a goal of making all our waterways safe for swimming. Yet our research finds that all too often our beaches are still plagued with pollution, and millions of swimmers get sick every year. To dramatically reduce this pollution, we must boldy invest in improving our water infrastructure.
Solar power is helping move the United States toward a future of 100% renewable energy, while reducing global warming pollution, cleaning up the air in our communities, and empowering homeowners and business owners to generate their own electricity. And increasingly, solar power can do all that at a lower cost than electricity produced from fossil fuels. Utilities increasingly fear that the falling prices and rising availability of clean solar power will threaten their business model, which ties profits to the amount of capital investment they make in the grid, and sometimes to the amount of electricity sold. Consequently, in states across the country, utilities are using their money and clout to push policymakers to undercut solar power and make it harder for homeowners and small business owners to produce their own clean energy.
Today, one in five Americans lives within just three miles of a Superfund toxic waste site. Contaminants of concern at these sites include arsenic, lead, mercury, benzene, dioxin, and other hazardous chemicals that may increase the risk of cancer, reproductive problems, birth defects, and other serious illnesses. Cleanup can take a decade or more, and decreased funding over the last 20 years has led to slower cleanups. To make matters worse, climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of storms such as hurricanes that threaten to impact toxic waste sites, which could spread the chemicals at these sites into surrounding communities. During the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, 810 Superfund toxic waste sites were in the path of a hurricane or tropical storm.
U.S. policymakers must use every practical policy tool to tackle climate change – promoting rapid deployment of renewable energy sources, investing in research and development of clean energy technologies and energy efficiency and taking regulatory actions to push polluters away from using dirty fossil fuels. A central element in this strategy should be putting a price on carbon pollution. This new report shows how carbon pricing can be used to push polluters to use energy more efficiently and shift from oil, coal and natural gas to clean, renewable energy.
Environment America Research & Policy Center
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Environment America Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.