Sam Ross-Brown

Sam Ross-Brown is a graduate student in urban planning and development at the University of Southern California. Previously, he served as The American Prospect's associate editor. 

Recent Articles

GOP Tax Plan Pulls the Plug on Renewable Energy

Both versions of the GOP tax plan could deal a devastating blow to solar and wind production. 

(Chris Neal/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP)
The GOP tax reform plan barreling toward a vote in the Senate could deal a devastating blow to the renewable energy industry. Unlike the more draconian House version, the Senate bill does not slash renewable tax credits directly, but it does impose steep taxes on the companies that help finance renewable development. Leaders in the wind and solar sector warn that such hikes would undercut the industry’s most important financing tools. “Almost overnight, you would see a devastating reduction in wind and solar energy investment and development,” Gregory Wetstone, the head of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said in a statement . When Senate Republicans released their tax plan two weeks ago, renewable advocates were initially relieved. The House bill, released in early November, proposed cutting the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for renewables by a third, eliminating the Investment Tax Credit for solar production, and repealing the electric vehicle purchase...

Nebraska Approves Keystone XL Pipeline, But Fight Continues

The state’s decision is the pipeline’s last regulatory hurdle. Next stop: the courts.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
On Monday, the Nebraska Public Service Commission voted to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, thereby clearing the project’s last regulatory hurdle. The decision comes just days after an existing segment of the Keystone pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in Marshall County, South Dakota. Although former President Obama shelved Keystone XL following a massive public outcry in November 2015, President Trump has since revived it, throwing a critical environmental victory into serious doubt. But even as state regulators green-light the pipeline, Keystone’s future remains far from certain. In approving the project, the commission altered its route to avoid Nebraska’s vulnerable Sandhills region. The decision could set TransCanada’s plans back months, or even years, as it must now secure easements with a new set of Nebraska landowners. The company also faces a tough legal challenge in federal court. Within days of the pipeline’s federal...

Scott Pruitt’s Dirty War on Clean Water

Pruitt’s aggressive effort to repeal the Clean Water Rule is the latest battle in the Trumpian attack on environmental regulations, democratic norms, and the rule of law.

(Sipa USA via AP)
This week, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case that will determine how far the federal government can go in safeguarding American waterways. At issue are challenges to the Clean Water Rule that began working its way up to the high court two years ago. Yet no matter what the Court decides, the Clean Water Rule’s days are almost certainly numbered as the Environmental Protection Agency finalizes a plan to kill the rule outright this fall. The agency has come under fire from scientists, environmental advocates, and state officials for moves related to its repeal crusade, including cutting back on public input, an ominous sign that flies in the face of past EPA practice. Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, has a personal stake in this battle royale: He helped lead the multi-state legal assault against the rule during his tenure as Oklahoma’s attorney general, which culminated in National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense , the case currently...

Can Cities and States Step Up to Fight Climate Change?

While momentum is building, local governments face myriad challenges in their bid to support the Paris Agreement.  

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
In mid-July, California Governor Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg teamed up to announce America’s Pledge, a new coalition of seven states and more than 200 cities and counties that have joined together to continue to support the Paris climate agreement’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. In the weeks since President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from Paris, cities and states have scrambled to come up with initiatives that can actually close the gap left by U.S. withdrawal. But while local governments have made impressive pledges in recent weeks to mitigate the damage caused by abandoning U.S. commitments at Paris, what those plans look like in practice—and how they can slow the increase in the greenhouse gases that are fueling climate change—remains an open question. America’s Pledge plans to study these commitments and present the findings at the November global climate summit in Bonn, Germany. “We’re...

The Republican Climate Science Witch Hunt

(Photo: AP/Charles Dharapak)
Climate change deniers have friends on Capitol Hill and in the White House. Lamar Smith, the House Science Committee chair who has been at the forefront of efforts to incinerate federal global warming research, is determined to provide a public platform for climate skeptics to share their widely discredited views and to step up attacks on federal research work overseen by groups like Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board. Meanwhile, President Trump has moved to cut back federal support for climate research and undo much of President Obama’s climate legacy, including the Clean Power Plan to phase out fossil fuel power plants and increase renewable energy production. But the Texas Republican and his allies may pose the bigger threat. The congressman moved to raise the profile of climate change deniers by inviting prominent skeptics to a Wednesday “Making scientific debate great again” hearing. A witness on the panel, Georgia Institute of...