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A pair of mute swans nest along the Charles River in the Back Bay of Boston, near a heavily traveled walking and cycling path. Once a national embarrassment for its pollution, the cleaned-up river today teems with wildlife. Derrick Z. Jackson

By Derrick Z. Jackson

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan officially announced earlier this month that the Biden administration will reinterpret the Trump administration's definition of what constitutes "waters of the United States" – waterways that are deserving of federal protection.

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People gather in front of a church before participating in a national mile-long march to highlight the push for clean water in Flint on Feb. 19, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. The march was organized in part by Rev. Jesse Jackson. Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

By Derrick Z. Jackson

No punishment has yet fit the crime of the Flint water crisis, complete with its child poisoning and lethal outbreak of Legionnaire's disease. After a prior investigation fell apart in 2019, Michigan state prosecutors unveiled a slew of fresh charges against nine figures involved in the fateful penny-pinching move to switch Flint's water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014. The river's waters, made corrosive from decades of industrial pollution, ate at Flint's old water pipes, releasing lead into drinking water and into the brains of thousands of children.

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Elmar Gubisch / EyeEm / Getty Images

Installing solar panels is a great option for homeowners who want to reduce their power bills, and the payback period can be just a handful of years with favorable conditions. However, renters and apartment owners cannot use a typical solar power system due to the lack of space, and renters in particular must also negotiate with their landlords. A miniature solar system that is portable and easy to install can be a better option in these cases.

Rooftop solar systems can greatly reduce your electric bills, and you can add solar batteries to store solar energy for use at night. However, because most systems are tied to the power local grid, you must meet many technical requirements and get a permit to put solar on your property. The initial investment and paperwork are not a problem when installing solar panels in a home you own, but they're a limiting factor for renters.

If you don't own your home or apartment, you may have little incentive to invest in improving someone else's property. Even if your landlord gives you permission to install solar panels, the decision only makes sense financially if you plan to rent for a very long time — longer than the solar payback period. Also, consider the following factors:

  • When your lease ends, your landlord may not be willing to purchase the solar panels you installed.
  • Moving rooftop solar panels to another home is difficult, and you will need a professional installation and another permit for the new property.

There are many types of miniature solar systems that can be installed without the complex requirements and permitting procedures of more permanent structures. These systems are an excellent option for renters, since taking them to another property is as simple as relocating your TV.

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U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at a hearing of the Judiciary Committee on June 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. Carolyn Kaster-Pool / Getty Images

By Yvette Cabrera

This story was originally published on Grist on July 30, 2020

Fifteen years ago, Kamala Harris — San Francisco's District Attorney at the time — created an environmental justice unit in her office. The goal was to go after the perpetrators of environmental crimes that were hurting some of the city's poorest residents.

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For the millions of Americans who live in an internet dead zone, fully participating in society in the age of social distancing has become difficult if not impossible. Karl Tapales / Getty Images

By Maddie Stone

One of the starkest inequalities exposed by the coronavirus pandemic is the difference between the digital haves and have-nots. Those with a fast internet connection are more able to work and learn remotely, stay in touch with loved ones, and access critical services like telemedicine. For the millions of Americans who live in an internet dead zone, fully participating in society in the age of social distancing has become difficult if not impossible.

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People protest the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Warrick Page / Getty Images

By Rachel Ramirez

"I can't breathe." These were among the final words that George Floyd and Eric Garner gasped before their deaths at the hands of white police officers. That plea has become part of the current rallying cry for racial justice and an end to police brutality in the U.S. But for black people living near industrial facilities, the phrase has an additional layer of meaning: a reminder of their disproportionate pollution burden.

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Honduran Lenca women take part in a protest demanding justice in the murder of Honduran activist Berta Caceres on the second anniversary of her death on March 2, 2018 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. ORLANDO SIERRA / AFP / Getty Images

By Rachel Ramirez

Adán Vez Lira, a prominent defender of an ecological reserve in Mexico, was shot while riding his motorcycle in April. Four years earlier, the renowned activist Berta Cáceres was shot dead in her home in Honduras by assailants taking direction from executives responsible for a dam she had opposed. Four years before that, Cambodian forest and land activist Chut Wutty was killed during a brawl with the country's military police while investigating illegal logging.

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Across the country, millions of people live within half a mile of fracking sites, like this one in Frederick, Colorado. milehightraveler / Getty Images

By Emily Pontecorvo and Naveena Sadasivam

On a spring weekend morning a few weeks ago, Judy Kelly stepped outside of her house in Broomfield, Colorado, to grab the newspaper when her nose perked up. It smelled like something was burning.

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By Naveena Sadasivam

It was early in the morning last Thursday, and Jonathan Butler was standing on the Fred Hartman Bridge, helping 11 fellow Greenpeace activists rappel down and suspend themselves over the Houston Ship Channel. The protesters dangled in the air most of the day, shutting down a part of one of the country's largest ports for oil.

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