Global Warming: From State Policy to The Paris Talks
For nearly two decades, Frontier Group has provided analysis to support campaigns for climate action. In June, we partnered with Environment America Research & Policy Center to produce Path to the Paris Climate Conference, which showed that current state and federal policies are nearly sufficient to meet President Obama’s commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. In August, our Cool Solutions report drew attention to 10 potential game-changing technologies and trends that can enable Massachusetts to set – and meet – strong, binding carbon reduction targets. We also employed new tools this year to help Americans grasp the impact of climate change. In November, we unveiled (with Environment America) a new interactive map that highlights the stories of ordinary Americans whose lives have been disrupted by extreme weather.
Exploring The Future of Transportation
New technologies and services – from Uber to driverless cars – are turning the transportation world upside down. Frontier Group challenges policy-makers to rethink transportation policies and priorities for the 21st century. In February, we released the Innovative Transportation Index, which tracked the spread of tech-driven and “sharing economy” transportation services across the country, while in April, we partnered with U.S. PIRG Education Fund to produce Who Pays for Roads?, which found that drivers currently pay less than half the costs of the roads they use and urged a rethinking of our transportation spending priorities…. Our work on transportation continues to help drive the national conversation on reform, earning coverage this year in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Chicago Tribune and Politico, among many other media sources.
Responding to The “War on Solar”
In 2015, solar power hit the mainstream – meeting ferocious resistance along the way from electric utilities and fossil fuel interests. Our work this year shed critical light on the issues at play in the “war on solar.” June’s Shining Rewards showed that solar homeowners deliver more benefits to the grid and society than they get back in compensation through net metering. Blocking the Sun investigated the fossil fuel and utility interests driving the “war on solar,” showing the ways in which those entities coordinate their campaigns across state lines…. One state where anti-clean energy campaigns have had success is in Ohio. Our June report Progress on Hold (written with Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center) quantified the heavy environmental and economic cost of the clean energy “freeze” adopted there in 2014…. We also produced the latest in our series of reports tracking the growth of solar energy in cities and states across the country – reports that continue to demonstrate the critical role that public policy plays in the growth of clean energy.
Defending Public Health
Pennsylvania has long been the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to the environmental and public health impacts of industrial pollution. Through our partnership with PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center, Frontier Group produced three reports this year on environmental and public health challenges in the Keystone State. Fracking Failures and Dangerous and Close highlighted the natural gas industry’s history of environmental violations and the increasing number of schools, hospitals and elder care facilities located in close proximity to fracking.Toxic Ten highlighted the Pittsburgh area’s top toxic air polluters and called for action to protect public health…. In Texas, our report exposing the extent of fracking for oil and gas on lands owned by the University of Texas system helped draw an editorial in the Austin American-Statesman urging the university to adopt safer practices.
In Other News
Our fifth annual Following the Money report on state spending transparency websites awarded the highest grade ever to Ohio, which made a big leap forward in providing user-friendly access to the state’s checkbook…. Frontier Group staff, led by Elizabeth Ridlington, developed a series of issue-based trainings for our partners in The Public Interest Network, using research, archival materials, and video interviews to educate organizers and advocates about issues ranging from consumer financial protection to global warming…. Senior Policy Analyst Tony Dutzik engaged in debates over the future of the Boston-area’s MBTA transit system, partnering with the Transportation for Massachusetts coalition on a series of articles and blog posts making the case for quality, affordable public transportation.
In 2016, we look forward to producing new analyses on the connection between innovative transportation tools and services and the drive to address global climate change, as well as the potential for America to switch to 100 percent renewable energy. We will report on a new wave of boondoggle highway projects across the country, provide a fresh view of the environmental and public health costs of fracking for oil and gas, and deepen our work on government transparency to include our first-ever state-level look at online budget transparency in cities.
We at Frontier Group believe that good ideas alone aren’t enough to change the world – it takes the dedicated work of advocates, organizers and concerned citizens to put good ideas into practice.
Susan Rakov, Director
Tony Dutzik, Senior Policy Analyst
Elizabeth Ridlington, Jeff Inglis, Gideon Weissman, Alana Miller and Kim Norman, Policy Analysts