Celebrating Progress in Clean Energy, Defending Consumer and Environmental Protections, and Making Sense of Disaster: 2017 in Review

At Frontier Group, we provide information and ideas to help America bring its resources to bear on the problems that matter most. Here's what we've done over the last year...

Happy New Year!

At the end of 2017, America grapples with a growing climate crisis, wasteful overconsumption and distracting political debates that too often ignore these core problems. But a brighter future is still possible. The United States’ marvelous and varied resources position us to be able to solve nearly any problem. Emerging technologies can help accelerate a transition to a clean, sustainable future of broad prosperity and well-being. And America’s strong democratic tradition provides many examples of our ability to overcome division and strive for a more perfect union. 

At Frontier Group, we provide information and ideas to help America bring its resources to bear on the problems that matter most. Here’s what we’ve done over the last year…

Celebrating the Progress of Clean Energy

Ending America’s dependence on fossil fuels is crucial to preventing the worst impacts of global warming. In 2017, we hailed the nation’s progress toward clean energy and urged further shifts away from fossil fuels… Our third annual Shining Cities report highlighted the 20 U.S. cities that are leading the nation in solar energy… Renewables on the Rise showed how five technologies – solar energy, wind energy, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and advanced energy storage – are paving the way for a clean energy future… With Environment America Research & Policy Center, we produced Renewable Energy 100, a handbook showing colleges and universities how to achieve 100 percent clean energy and become role models for a larger-scale transition… The rapid growth of solar energy has drawn opposition. The third edition of Blocking the Sun uncovered the latest moves by utilities and fossil fuel industries to undermine solar progress… Our reports on clean energy earned coverage in Yahoo! NewsCBS and other media outlets.

Defending Environmental and Consumer Protections

Regardless of ideology, most Americans want a healthy environment and a safe marketplace. In 2017, our research underlined the importance of consumer and environmental protections… In our series Rough Waters Ahead, we called out threats to rivers and lakes posed by the Trump administration’s proposed EPA budget cuts, focusing on dangers to the Great Lakes, the Delaware River Basin, Puget Sound and several watersheds in Montana…
Another series of Frontier Group reports, written in partnership with U.S. PIRG Education Fund, highlighted the role of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in protecting Americans in the financial marketplace… Medical Debt Malpractice exposed predatory behavior by medical debt collectors; Protecting Those Who Serve explored the unique financial challenges faced by military servicemembers and veterans; and Older Consumers in the Financial Marketplace showed how the CFPB helps protect older Americans from financial scams. This work earned attention from The New York TimesUSA Today and CNBC

Better Transportation, Better Cities

America’s transportation system damages our health and heaps debt onto future generations… In 2017, our third iteration of Highway Boondoggles examined nine dubious highway projects, set to cost a total of $10 billion, which fail to address real needs and steal resources from maintenance and better transportation options… Subsidizing people to drive alone to work is a waste of resources that jams our cities with cars. We worked with TransitCenter on Who Pays for Parking?a report documenting the impact of federal tax subsidies on commuter parking in our cities and proposing solutions… City design plays an important role in improving mobility and fighting climate change. In Complete Streets for St. Pete, we used St. Petersburg, Florida, as a case study for how designing safe, pedestrian and bike-friendly streets can protect public health and reduce air pollution… And in Growing Greener, we highlighted how compact development can improve environmental quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These reports earned coverage from Politico, the Chicago Tribune and other outlets.

Street improvements in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Flickr user Tom Jackson.

Making Sense of Disaster

The 2017 hurricane season left Americans searching for information about links between the storms and climate change, as well as threats to public health in the storms’ aftermath. Frontier Group provided resources on topics including the dangers of hazardous materials in floodwaters and storm debris and the condition of Superfund sites in areas affected by the storms.

In Other News

Senior Policy Analyst Tony Dutzik spoke about highway boondoggles at the Strong Towns summit in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He also briefed Aspen, Colorado community leaders at an Aspen Institute forum on innovative forms of mobility, and led a series of webinars on strategies to cut carbon pollution from transportation… 

Senior Policy Analyst Tony Dutzik discussed the promises and perils of innovative mobility with residents of Aspen, Colorado, at an event sponsored by the Aspen Institute in May. Photo by Nick Tininenko.

Our blog helped spur conversation on a range of issues. Policy analyst Rachel J. Cross linked Congress’ debate over tax policy with the disastrous experience of similar reforms in her home state of Kansas; policy analyst Elizabeth Ridlington used the devastating wildfires in her home town of Santa Rosa, California, to highlight the inaccuracy of local air quality monitoring; policy associate Abi Bradford’s blog post made the case for rebuilding Puerto Rico’s electric grid with clean energy; and intern Emily Schneider explained how manufacturer discounts for prescription drugs actually fuel higher healthcare spending… Frontier Group’s website relaunched with a clean new design – come see

Looking Ahead

In 2018, Frontier Group will partner with U.S. PIRG Education Fund on the fourth edition of our annual “Highway Boondoggles” report and partner with Environment America Research & Policy Center on an interactive online map showing threats to water around Philadelphia, New York City and in New Jersey.
For more than 20 years, Frontier Group has brought rigorous analysis and bold thinking to pressing national issues, seeking solutions outside the normal partisan divide. We look forward to doing the same in the year ahead, and we look forward to your continued support and partnership in this critical moment in our nation’s history.
Please keep in touch with us on FacebookTwitter and Medium, and at www.frontiergroup.org.
We wish you a happy, meaningful and rewarding new year.
Susan Rakov, Director
Tony Dutzik, Senior Policy Analyst
Elizabeth Ridlington, Alana Miller, Gideon Weissman, Rachel J. Cross, Katherine Eshel, Policy Analysts
Elizabeth Berg, Abi Bradford, Hye-Jin Kim, Teague Morris, Policy Associates


Susan Rakov

Managing Director, Frontier Group; Senior Vice President, The Public Interest Network

Susan directs Frontier Group, the research and policy development center for The Public Interest Network. Frontier Group’s work informs the public discussion about degradations to the environment and public health, threats to consumer rights and democracy, and the available routes to a better future. Susan lives in Santa Barbara, California; she has two children, a husband, and a dog, and is an amateur singer/songwriter.

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