Sam Ross-Brown

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

Recent Articles

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...

Climate Accord Mobilizes Health Industry

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
(AP Photos/Matt Dunham) Public health advocates were among those demonstrating at the recent Paris climate talks. W ith their landmark accord following talks in Paris, world leaders have hammered out not only the first global commitment to combat climate change, but arguably the most significant public health treaty of our time. “The stakes are high,” World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan told negotiators on December 8. “A ruined planet cannot sustain human lives in good health.” Chan’s sobering words echoed a June report by the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change that warned global warming could wipe out a half-century of public health gains. That has helped fuel a movement to combat climate change among health-care professionals, who are tackling both global warming's impact on public health as well as their own carbon footprint. The report also warned that much of that damage is already being done. During the talks, Beijing’s record-breaking—and...