Backgrounders

Biden Nominees Foretell Aggressive Action on Climate, Environmental Justice

Key picks for President Biden’s environment and energy team suggest top priorities, among them an aggressive, whole-government climate change agenda. The latest Backgrounder assesses choices to pursue Biden’s international and domestic climate policies, as well as historic selections for EPA and Interior, and more. Plus, dive into SEJournal’s expanding “2021 Journalists’ Guide to Energy & Environment” special report.

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Environmental Issues Likely To Find Their Way to Courts in 2021

Environmental journalists may want to brush up on their legalese for 2021, as the likelihood of legal challenges over environmental policies — and Trump-era rollbacks — increases. Our Issue Backgrounder, the newest entry in our growing special report, “2021 Journalists’ Guide to Energy & Environment,” looks at potential legal conflicts over climate change, pipelines, drilling, auto emissions, clean water and more.

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Biden Faces Environmental Challenges on Multiple International Treaties

As the incoming Biden administration prepares to re-engage on the global stage, environment-related treaties are high on the agenda. The latest Backgrounder, part of our 2021 Guide, takes a closer look at 10-plus top treaties, including those focused on climate change, biodiversity, plastics pollution, airplane emissions, the future of the Arctic and more.

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Carmakers Map Out Shifting Road Ahead

Automakers are at the heart of the conflict over climate change policy, thanks to the prevalence of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. That may now be changing. And not just because of the incoming Biden administration, but also with shifting investment in the future of electric vehicles. A look at how car companies are piloting that path, from the latest Backgrounder. Electric Hummer, anyone?

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Even Without Senate, Biden Can Still Do Much To Fight Climate Change

What will a Biden presidency mean for climate and environmental policy if it’s facing the prospect of a GOP-controlled Senate? Quite a bit actually. The latest Backgrounder examines a range of executive actions that the Biden White House could take on energy and the environment. Plus, a look at what’s possible through independent agencies and, yes, bipartisan legislation. But there are a lot of powerful climate actions a Biden administration could take — by executive action alone. Also see headlines on the topic from EJ Today.

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Climate-Unfriendly Coal May Be Losing Ground in U.S., But Not Worldwide

When it comes to climate change, coal’s carbon emissions mean trouble. But as Backgrounder explains, if the once-powerful coal industry is on the decline in the United States, the fuel’s still finding favor worldwide. And that’s bad news for the Paris climate accord’s hopes of gaining control of runaway warming. The story behind the “exaggerated death” of coal.

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Potentially Explosive Fertilizer Could Be Found in Your Community

Ammonium nitrate, the explosive agricultural fertilizer that blew up in Lebanon this month,  killing dozens and severely damaging Beirut’s center, is stored by the thousands of tons all over the United States. But regulatory blindspots and secretive information policies mean few know exactly where. Backgrounder reviews the chemical’s oversight regime — and its gaps — and has ideas for reporting from your community.

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‘Green Recovery’ Policies an Elusive Promise

As Democratic and Republican parties plan their nominating conventions beginning next week amid a pandemic and a recession, it’s instructive to examine the state of thinking about a “green recovery.”  Backgrounder looks at the politicking and policies behind the notion that a massive clean energy plan could be good not just for addressing climate change, but also the economy.

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Finding Native People at Heart of Environment Beat

As Democratic New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland prepares to possibly become the first Native American Interior secretary, it's becoming clearer than ever that environmental concerns are deeply intertwined with Native American life. But news media often ignore the connections, missing important stories as a result. Our new Backgrounder helps set that to rights by spotlighting 10 key environmental issues affecting Native American communities and offering a dozen-and-a-half reporting resources. 

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Post-COVID-19 City Design May Transform Built Environment

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the so-called built environment is likely to get a thorough reexamination, whether it’s to reconsider commuting, shopping, recreation, eating out or taking in sporting events. Our latest Issue Backgrounder looks at the top ways coronavirus will force us to rethink our cities and how we live in and travel through them.

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