Backgrounders

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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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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Disaster Preparedness Key Amid Pandemic

Unheeded warnings are the hallmark of many disasters. And with coronavirus still hobbling the nation, communities and journalists must now watch for all the ways COVID-19 could make even the most familiar hazards far worse. Prepare with this extensive Backgrounder, which touches on issues around evacuations and emergency readiness when facing storms, fires, toxic releases and more.

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Turmoil in World Oil Markets Tips Environmental Scales Too

The dramatic drop in demand for oil, driven by the shutdown of world economies by coronavirus, has meant a corresponding fall in prices. And that has profound environmental implications. But it’s a complicated dynamic to assess. Our Issue Backgrounder provides a look under the hood of Big Oil, and explains what it means for environment reporters. Plus, a Reporter’s Toolbox for tracking the data.

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Coronavirus Pandemic Spawns Many Stories on Environment Beat

The momentous COVID-19 outbreak has many, many reporting angles — environment and energy stories certainly among them. Our latest Issue Backgrounder has an extensive rundown on possible ways in for environment and energy reporters, including everything from respiratory disease and air pollution to science denial and climate change, and more. Plus, pending passage of a massive congressional aid package. And an earlier TipSheet on how journalists can prepare for public health emergencies.

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Weather Data Privatization Poses Conflicts in a Changing Meteorology Landscape

Weather reports are not just about donning galoshes. They can mean literal life or death for people and businesses, such as during a natural disaster. So, as the latest Issue Backgrounder details, the ongoing effort to privatize publicly funded weather data is a matter of real controversy. Find out what’s in the weather privatization forecast.

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