Since 2006, RFF has focused its Environment program almost exclusively on climate change. Our program emphasizes public education on the risks of global warming and implementation of sound solutions. RFF is interested in the development of initiatives designed to enact aggressive policies at the state and national levels to reduce carbon emissions; disrupt the coal life cycle from mining and burning to ash disposal and exporting; bring diverse and compelling new voices into the climate debate; and examine how special interests are distorting science and delaying constructive steps to deal with this impending global crisis.


Climate Policy
This program aims to advance state and federal policies capable of addressing the magnitude of the nation’s contribution to the climate crisis.  Breaking through the resistance to meaningful climate progress requires the following elements: an engaged and energized electorate demanding change, public recognition of the climate disruption now unfolding, an unmasking of the forces working to prevent climate progress, and policies that, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, benefit the public, as opposed to the polluters, and have the potential for bipartisan appeal.  Among numerous milestones, this work has led to:  a ground-breaking report issued by senior U.S. military advisors that climate change is a national security risk; U.S. House and Senate introduction of a straightforward climate bill that would dramatically reduce carbon while economically benefitting a majority of Americans; passage of the most aggressive state-based energy efficiency bill in the nation; creation of an organization committed to the fulltime defense of climate science and scientists; and authoritative analyses of how advocates can best advance climate policies in the current political environment.  

National Coal Campaign
When the coal industry announced plans to build more than 150 plants across the country in 2005, RFF recognized that the construction of even one new plant would commit the U.S.  to long-term, high levels of carbon dioxide emissions, effectively preventing the nation from reaching future climate goals. The National Coal Campaign was first launched to help stop this coal rush. Its scope was later expanded to address the entire coal life cycle including mining, transporting, and disposal of coal.  Since then, RFF’s work with and support of advocates has helped defeat proposed coal plants in Florida, Iowa, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina and Georgia, and coal ports in the Pacific Northwest and in the Gulf of Mexico.  In addition to engaging national and local anti-coal advocates on the ground, RFF assembled a team of financial experts to analyze –and expose the flaws in–the financing behind the construction of new plants and coal-related activities. This pilot project started at RFF in 2007 and has since become its own non-profit organization, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. The Institute’s reports, which have prompted federal and state investigations of coal activities, and its training sessions for advocates have added a new dimension to the fight against coal.

Representative Grants



Appalachian Mountain Advocates
To oppose construction of oil and gas pipelines in Virginia.

Appalachian Voices
To coordinate the anti-pipeline campaign.

Chesapeake Climate Action Network
For public education campaign on carbon pricing.

El Puente de Williamsburg
For the Latino Climate Action Network.

Environmental Integrity Project
To support strong methane reduction standards by the EPA.

Physicians for Social Responsibility--LA Chapter
For the Urban Oil Extraction project.

Public Citizens Foundation
To support the Clean Gulf Restoration Project.

Resources for the Future
To support work on equitable carbon pricing policies.

Western Organizations of Resource Councils Education Project 
To support the Western Coalfield Alliance.


Appalachian Mountain Advocates
To stop mountain top removal.

Clean Air Coalition of Western New York
For the power plant retirement and economic transition project.

CommunityWise Bellingham
For work to stop construction of the Gateway Pacific coal export terminal.

Fresh Energy
To support a national climate initiative.

Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis
General support for work on coal and fossil fuels.

Mothers Out Front
General support.

Sightline Institute
To provide research and analysis for the Clean Gulf Restoration project.




Coal-Generated Power Continues to Decline:

Just ten years ago, coal-fired power plants produced 50% of US electricity. Now that figure is down to 29% as of July 2016. According to IEEFA, the market--not regulation--is responsible for the decline. Cheap natural gas and low-priced renewables combined with advanced technologies are replacing an aging coal fleet.