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2011 Year in Review

From city halls to Capitol Hill, Frontier Group’s research lent critical support to campaigns on issues ranging from government accountability to global warming, while also helping to lay the factual and intellectual foundation for even more ambitious efforts in the years ahead.

In 2011, Frontier Group made progress amidst a difficult political landscape by  providing solid research and sharp insight to influence the public policy debate on America’s most profound issues. From city halls to Capitol Hill, Frontier Group’s research lent critical support to campaigns on issues ranging from government accountability to global warming, while also helping to lay the factual and intellectual foundation for even more ambitious efforts in the years ahead.

Moving toward a new energy future … Over the last decade, Frontier Group analysts have highlighted the prospective benefits of state and local clean energy policies. This year, it was our privilege to show how implementation of those policies is improving our environment and people’s lives. In Illinois, our Saving Energy, Growing Jobs report documented the emergence of a robust “energy efficiency industry” consisting of hundreds of companies. A Program That Works showed how the Northeast’s global warming cap-and-trade program for power plants is empowering states to address their biggest energy challenges. Building a Brighter Future drew statewide media attention to California’s emergence as a world leader in solar power development, while Building a Clean Energy Workforce identified hundreds of job training programs in the Golden State that are preparing workers for the new energy economy. … We also worked to hold government and corporations accountable for following through on their clean energy promises.Ohio’s Clean Energy Report Card graded Ohio’s electric utilities on their efforts to achieve the energy efficiency and renewable energy goals of the state’s Clean Energy Law. A similar report in Maryland, Falling Behind on Energy Efficiency, took the state and its utilities to task for failing to live up to the commitments made in the landmark EmPOWER Maryland law.

Charting a way forward on global warming … Capping nearly a year’s worth of work, Frontier Group and Environment America Research & Policy Center this fall released The Way Forward on Global Warming – a vision for restoring momentum in the fight against global warming in the United States without waiting for action from Congress. The report evaluated the potential impact of more than two dozen emission reducing policies in each of the 50 states, providing a blueprint for achieving short-term emission reductions while creating the conditions for bigger victories in the years ahead. … In a similar vein, Getting Off Oil showed how local and state action can reduce our dependence on petroleum.

Promoting government transparency and accountability … For the second year running, Frontier Group’sFollowing the Money report (co-authored in partnership with U.S. PIRG Education Fund) graded states on their efforts to make information on government spending available over the Internet. The report has become the national benchmark for evaluating states’ online transparency efforts – states receiving good grades often issue celebratory press releases, while several identified as laggards have modeled improvements to their websites on our criteria.… We also released two reports on privatization of government activities: one on the potential role of public-private partnerships in high-speed rail development and a second on the dangers of privatized traffic law enforcement, with the latter report earning coverage in USA Today and other major media outlets.
 
Responding to the Fukushima nuclear disaster … Frontier Group analysts provided real-time information to the public and decision-makers on the nuclear accident in Japan and its relevance for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Frontier Group produced and distributed online maps with information on the location and characteristics of U.S. nuclear power plants, kept a running Q&A with up-to-date information about the disaster on our blog, and produced Unnecessary Risk, a report exposing the checkered safety record of America’s nuclear industry, which was covered by the Wall Street Journal and other major media outlets. 

Highlighting emerging threats to the environment and health … 
Frontier Group entered the debate about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for natural gas with the report In the Shadow of the Marcellus Boom, which identified hundreds of schools, hospitals and day care centers in close proximity to natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. … We also contributed to reports this summer on the global movement to protect our oceans by banning single-use plastic bags, and on the threats posed to the Grand Canyon and the West by a potential restart of uranium mining. … Building on our long legacy of work to encourage safer alternatives to toxic chemicals, Frontier Group issued a new, national version of our Safer by Design report highlighting the stories of companies nationwide that are following the principles of green chemistry.

Looking forward to 2012 … Expect new reports in the first part of 2012 on the race to develop the sustainable, low-carbon transportation fuels of the future; the decline in driving among young people and what it might mean for transportation policy; and the rising danger of extreme weather fueled by global warming. Also look for the third annualFollowing the Money report on state government transparency websites, updated reviews of the progress of clean energy programs in Ohio, Maryland and the Northeast, and a new version of our Wasting Our Waterways report on toxic dumping into the nation’s rivers, streams and lakes.

On behalf of all of us at Frontier Group, have a happy and safe holiday season!

Authors

Tony Dutzik

Associate Director and Senior Policy Analyst, Frontier Group

Tony Dutzik is associate director and senior policy analyst with Frontier Group. His research and ideas on climate, energy and transportation policy have helped shape public policy debates across the U.S., and have earned coverage in media outlets from the New York Times to National Public Radio. A former journalist, Tony lives and works in Boston.