Sam Ross-Brown

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

Recent Articles

The Republican Climate Science Witch Hunt

(Photo: AP/Charles Dharapak)
(Photo: AP/Charles Dharapak) House Science Committee Chairman Representative Lamar Smith of Texas in 2012 C limate 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...

Providence Coalition Forces Officials to Think Smarter About Transportation

A grassroots campaign to stop a traditional expressway project shows how communities can shape state transportation decisions. 

(Photo: Doug Kerr/Flickr)
(Photo: Doug Kerr/Flickr) T he massive 6-10 Connector in Providence, Rhode Island, that carries some 100,000 cars every day is one of the Northeast Corridor’s most well-worn arteries. Nine bridges link Interstate 95 with state and local roadways. A decade ago, some of the spans began to deteriorate and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation installed wooden buttresses to reinforce the weakest structures as a temporary stopgap measure. But today, those buttresses, along with several steel support beams, have fallen into disrepair, putting not only the expressway but also nearby Amtrak powerlines at risk. Like many expressways built in the 1950s and 1960s, the connector also ended up having an unsavory impact on the surrounding area, walling in several working-class communities in the city’s West End. People living near postwar urban freeways have long suffered from poor health, high poverty, and high unemployment rates. In the Olneyville neighborhood, the connector took a toll...

Incoming EPA Chief Scott Pruitt’s Other Target: Clean Water

President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to protect clean water, but his selection of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency tells a different story.

(Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik)
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt arrives at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, December 7, 2016. S cott Pruitt’s nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency has drawn dire warnings about his impact on climate change, but the Oklahoma Attorney General could wreak just as much havoc on another core EPA mandate: the protection of clean water. Pruitt is well known for his legal challenges to President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, but his assault on clean-water protections has been just as fierce. In 2015, Pruitt led a multi-state lawsuit against Obama’s Clean Water Rule, a regulation aimed at protecting source water for one in three Americans. As with his Clean Power Plan suit, Pruitt and his allies succeeded in blocking the rule’s implementation. “I don’t think he’s found an EPA rule he hasn’t wanted to sue over,” says Michael Kelly, Clean Water Action’s national communications director. Trump said repeatedly on the campaign trail that...

Transportation Secretary Foxx Moves to Heal Scars of Urban Renewal

For Anthony Foxx, fixing America’s roads and bridges isn’t just about rebuilding. It’s about addressing the racial and economic divisions long embedded in the nation’s infrastructure in places like Pittsburgh.

(Photo: Flickr/Ronald Woan)
(Photo: Flickr/Ronald Woan) Pittsburgh's Hill District P ittsburgh’s Hill District has been at the nexus of African American cultural and economic life for decades. As the Great Migration kicked off after World War I, the neighborhood became a destination for blacks escaping the inequality and violence of the Jim Crow South. Beginning in the 1920s, the area became known as “ Little Harlem ” and “the Crossroads of the World ” for the eclectic jazz clubs and theaters that were essential stops for superstars like Earl Hines, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne. It was also home to one of the most prosperous African American communities in the country, boasting dozens of black-owned businesses. “ Because of these stories, a lot of people consider the Hill District home,” says Marimba Milliones, president and CEO of the Hill Community Development Corporation. “It was the place where their family connected with the city, where they landed. It was the figurative and literal heart of...

Fighting Over Fuel

The auto industry, already under fire following a string of safety recalls, has successfully lobbied for multiple loopholes in federal emissions standards, and is now battling with regulators to weaken the administration’s signature fuel economy plan.

AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File
AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File A motorist puts fuel in his car's gas tank at a service station in Springfield, Illinois. F ive years ago, the Obama administration announced an ambitious fuel economy plan mandating that automakers attain an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Designed to eliminate 6 million metric tons of greenhouse gases over 13 years—more than the nation’s entire annual carbon footprint—the program represented the administration’s most ambitious effort to combat climate change. But the plan may fall far short of its goals, critics say, largely because automakers have successfully lobbied for multiple, industry-friendly loopholes and giveaways that significantly undermine the fuel efficiency targets. And now, carmakers are asking for even more. As part of a federally-mandated review halfway through the 13-year program’s implementation, federal officials and automakers are locked in tense, closed-door negotiations over how tough emissions rules will be. The players...