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The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides over $5 billion annually in financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to implement conservation practices that address resource concerns (e.g., water quality, wildlife ha

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture could potentially spend part of its budget for water quality improvements seven to 12 times more cost effectively than it does now. A new WRI analysis shows how, explains why USDA isn’t already doing so, and proposes ways to make a complex policy a reality.

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For more than 30 years, the USDA has worked to reduce water pollution by offering farmers throughout the nation financial and technical help to put conservation measures in place. While these efforts have successfully addressed environmental problems at the individual farm level—such as soil erosion—agriculture remains a key source of water pollution.

However, it’s only a small portion of farms that generate the majority of agriculture’s contribution to U.S. water pollution. New research shows that targeting conservation funds to these farms with the most potential to reduce pollution could be up to 12 times more cost effective than the usual practice of disbursing funds widely. And encouragingly, a new USDA program aims to capitalize on a similar targeted approach.

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To this day, carbon pollution—the main driver of climate change—has not been controlled from power plants.

That’s why the U.S. EPA’s new rules are so momentous, putting federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants for the first time. With the power sector representing a third of America’s carbon footprint, these rules are the biggest single action the administration can take to drive down greenhouse gases.

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On June 2, President Obama will unveil the latest—and likely greatest—emissions reduction policy since he announced his Climate Action Plan last year: new rules to limit carbon dioxide pollution from existing power plants. With power plants accounting for around one-third of U.S. emissions, these rules will address the country’s single-largest source of greenhouse gas pollution.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions on what these standards are designed to achieve, the impact they will have, and why they’re so important. This blog highlights some of the most important aspects of these crucial actions.

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Miami ranks as the most vulnerable city in the world to the risk of coastal flooding caused by sea level rise.

Despite Miami’s vulnerability to sea level rise, there is reason to be hopeful: Many of the city’s local leaders and community residents are emerging as innovators in local climate action.

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As California lawmakers move forward with potential solutions to the state’s current water shortage, it’s important to consider the full context of underlying reasons for California’s water vulnerability.

Our research shows that about 66 percent of the state’s irrigated agriculture—its biggest water user—faces extremely high levels of baseline water stress. This means that more than 80 percent of the available water supply is already being used by farms, homes, businesses, and energy producers. It’s clear that even without drought, the state would be in trouble.

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The UN has announced that March 21 be recognized as the International Day of Forests. In tandem with the celebration of forests worldwide, is an awareness that we are still losing forests and trees much faster than they can regrow.

Many people are working to reverse tree cover loss in the world’s largest remaining forests. But several hugely important deforestation hotspots are still flying under the radar. These forest areas are seeing alarming trends and/or have lost much of their tree cover. We are using the latest data from Global Forest Watch, an online forest monitoring and alert system, to dive deeper into some under-reported deforestation hotspots.

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The White House recently unveiled a new Climate Data Initiative. The initiative creates an online hub of government data on climate impacts, providing a detailed look at how a warmer world may impact critical infrastructure like bridges, roads, and canals. The platform provides a key tool for helping those at the frontlines of climate change—local communities.

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As China pursues shale gas exploration and development, it could draw some lessons—both positive and negative—from the experience in the United States. Indeed, it is in both countries’ interest that their businesses and governments collaborate to ensure that when and where shale gas is developed, it is done responsibly.

In order to pursue shale gas development responsibly, three issues are emerging as potential hotspots for U.S.-China collaboration—environmentally smart development, energy security, and economy.

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