Sam Ross-Brown

Sam Ross-Brown is The American Prospect's associate editor. 

Recent Articles

Michigan Energy Policy Overhaul Pits Power Companies Against Solar Advocates

A proposal, pushed by the state's utility companies, to reduce payments to solar consumers could scare off people who are considering investing in solar energy.

(Photo: AP/David Eggert)
(Photo: AP/David Eggert) Michigan Governor Rick Snyder speaks at the Detroit Electrical Industry Training Center in Warren, Michigan, on March 14, 2015. T he battle between Michigan electric utility companies and renewable-energy advocates over a proposed state energy policy overhaul could deal a severe blow to the state’s small but growing solar-power sector. The regulatory overhaul, which mirrors changes being considered in states nationwide, would slash payments for solar consumers who sell excess energy back to utility companies while also significantly weakening the state’s clean-energy mandates. With federal energy policymaking at a standstill, this controversy once again puts Michigan at the center of the nationwide debate over state-level climate policy. Michigan’s two largest electrical utilities have pushed for these changes in a new comprehensive energy bill. DTE Energy and Consumers Energy have together spent more than $3 million over the past year on a massive media and...

Will Washington Pass Nation's First State-Level Carbon Tax?

After years of gridlock on climate action, Washington state could soon pioneer the nation's first tax on greenhouse gas emissions. 

Steve Bloom/The Olympian via AP
Steve Bloom/The Olympian via AP Carbon Washington Campaign Organizer Ben Silesky leads a group of supporters and organization members into the Elections Office for the Washington Secretary of State in Olympia, Wash. Thursday, October 29, 2015, as they deliver signatures for Initiative 732. W ith Congress unable to pass meaningful regulations on climate, Washington state may be poised to approve the nation’s first-ever carbon tax, in what environmental advocates say could become a national model. But first, advocates will have to get past a formidable obstacle: the fossil-fuel industry. In mid-January after a nine-month signature-gathering campaign, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman sent state lawmakers a ballot initiative that would attach a $15-per-ton tax on carbon emissions (which adds up to about 25 cents on a gallon of gas). The levy would gradually rise over the next 40 years. If the measure, dubbed Initiative 732, becomes law, Washington state would join California and a...

With Much of Climate Policy in State Hands, Will Commitments Be Enforced?

A pair of legal battles will help determine how far states will go to implement their climate laws. 

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
AP Photo/Charles Krupa Opponents of Kinder Morgan's proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline protest on Boston Common across from the Statehouse in Boston, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. L ess than a month after the Paris negotiations concluded with pledges by virtually every nation to reduce their greenhouse gases, a pair of lawsuits in Massachusetts and Rhode Island will test whether those states’ commitments to scale back their emissions are legally enforceable. The suits, brought by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and other environmental groups, will help determine whether state laws that set greenhouse gas reduction targets can be used to compel those states to cut emissions and put the brakes on new fossil-fuel infrastructure. With Congress unable to pass meaningful reforms, state-level policy has become a critical piece of U.S. action on climate change. Just how far states will go to implement and enforce meaningful change, however, remains an open question. “This is a...

Best of the Prospect 2015

The American Prospect
F or progressives, 2015 was a year of tumultuous debates over issues ranging from wage inequity to mass incarceration, campus sexual assault to global warming. Here at The American Prospect , our writers weighed in every step of the way. For our winter issue, Nancy Gertner asked whether renewed attention to campus sexual assaults can be reconciled with the imperative for due process. In the spring, the Prospect ’s 25th anniversary issue took on the 1 percent’s towering concentration of wealth and power, which has begun to threaten the foundation of our democratic experiment. In the summer, Justin Miller reported on a more encouraging trend—the small but burgeoning union movement among college and university adjuncts demanding equal pay from American higher ed. And in the fall, Peter Dreier and Aditi Sen explored how the same Wall Street speculators behind the mortgage crisis are at it again, securitizing rental properties in a frighteningly familiar way. We also had stories on...

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