In September 2020 the Environmental Integrity Project launched a new initiative -- the Center for Applied Environmental Science (CAES) -- whose mission is to help communities and environmental advocates obtain expert assistance in their efforts to hold polluters accountable.
Environmental laws in the U.S. give the public a right to review, comment on, and challenge environmental permitting decisions and other environmental policies. Unfortunately, this is not a level playing field. Industrial polluters have large budgets to retain expensive technical experts and make their case to state permitting agencies. Community groups, particularly in areas that suffer a disproportionate burden from air and water pollution, rarely have the resources to secure our own, comparable expert assistance. As a result, though we may have a seat at the table, impacted citizens do not have the same ability to influence environmental decisions.
CAES was established to level the playing field by connecting environmental advocates with credentialed experts and quality technical support. CAES is committed to funding that expert relationship to the extent possible, subject to the following priorities:
- Environmental justice. Our goal is to support communities most affected by pollution and historically left out of environmental decision-making, including communities of color and working-class communities;
- Petrochemical facilities. Given the large and growing impact of this industrial sector, CAES is committed to helping communities evaluate the impact of petrochemical plants and other oil and gas facilities on the quality of their air and water; challenge new projects that would significantly increase pollution; and demand equal protection under federal laws that are supposed to protect public health and natural resources; and
- Broad applicability. We seek to develop objective, high-quality scientific analyses that can be publicly shared, so all communities can benefit from the work.
We invite the Public Lab community to connect with CAES. If you have a project to propose or expertise to offer, please visit the CAES website and contact CAES director Abel Russ at firstname.lastname@example.org.