A few highlights from our work in 2016, including envisioning a new transportation future, highlighting the promise of solar energy, exposing the dangers of fracking, encouraging government transparency, making sense of the election, and more.

The main hurdle inhibiting not only public transportation but also relatively low-cost solutions such as bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure is not one of cost or governmental competence, but rather one of values.

Americans are exposed to hundreds of chemicals on a daily basis. They are in our personal care products, our cookware, our furniture and our electronics. They are used on our lawns and on the crops that produce our food. They are also in our bodies.

Banks play a crucial role in society: They keep our money safe and put it to work. But today, banks are making an increasing amount of money from the fees they collect from their customers. In Big Banks, Big Overdraft Fees, we found that large banks reported collecting $8.4 billion in overdraft fees in the first three quarters of 2016 – a 3.6% increase over the same period in 2015.

Public lands are critical environmental resources. They help to preserve ecosystems that may not find protection otherwise, and serve as field laboratories for scientists, vacation sites for families hoping to hook their children on nature, and sanctuaries for wildlife. But, public lands have also historically been the site of resource extraction and other activities that leave lasting marks on the landscape.

America’s agricultural system increasingly produces unhealthy food at significant cost to our environment and our health. These costs are paid by eaters and taxpayers – people like you and me.

For a decade, the United States seemed to be creeping away from our extreme dependence on fossil fuel-burning cars and trucks. Then, everything changed.

Optimism and hope are not the same thing, and there are some reasons to be hopeful that progress on climate will continue, even during a Trump administration.

America, a nation that has been resolutely future-oriented throughout its history, now risks turning decisively back toward the past.

Trumpism exists on the edge of the map where the dragons are. Beyond that, there’s nothing.

If you care about making social change of any kind, the inclination to worship data and analytics and to downplay vision and values is one you need to fight hard against.

There is a direct line from the policy decisions the United States has made over the last century – decisions that have almost universally moved the country toward deepening dependence on fossil fuel-powered personal cars – to the climate-altering reality of today.

The vast majority of the 16 recent solar cost-benefit analyses we reviewed for Shining Rewards found that, even with full retail net metering, solar owners provide a net benefit to the grid. And the analyses finding otherwise were largely commissioned by utilities.

Fast Forward surveys the lay of the land for innovative mobility technologies and tools in Massachusetts, explores their potential impacts, and makes a series of recommendations for local, state and federal policy-makers.

Over the summer, my seven-year-old son and I flew to Los Angeles to visit his cousins. When we arrived, he was fidgety from having to sit still on a plane and his youngest cousin was bouncing off the walls in excitement at our arrival, so we walked over to the playground next to his cousin’s elementary school. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, as I was mapping data for Frontier Group’s newest report about the risks of fracking, that I realized that the elementary school and the playground the kids had enjoyed so much is about a mile and a half from numerous fracked wells.

Starting this fall, 16- and 17-year-olds will be eligible to "preregister" to vote, so when they turn 18 they will automatically be listed on voter rolls. Our new report, Path to the Polls, makes recommendations to encourage California to adopt strong policies to make voter preregistration effective.

In order for humans to continue to prosper, our society must take action to curb global warming.  Our new report, Carbon-Cutting Success Stories, shows that a powerful program to reduce emissions can help people and organizations take effective action against climate change and bring other benefits to their communities.

Not one of New Jersey's biggest cities has a modern, searchable and sortable budget website to allow easy access to checkbook-level municipal spending data. 

Not only can shared networks enable people to choose the right tool for the job, but if we integrate sharing and autonomy into our cities intelligently, we can allow for the safe use of additional modes – like walking and bicycling – that are currently crowded off our streets by our over-reliance on the 20th century’s intended one-size-fits-all solution to our transportation challenges: the personal car.


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