Good as news: positive environmental stories you may have missed this week

The Public Interest Network’s Environment America and U.S. PIRG are working on multiple campaigns to help America get through the coronavirus pandemic as quickly and safely as possible. But we're also working to ensure that when the outbreak ends, the United States’ policies and practices ensure a cleaner, safer, better world for all of us.

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Ian Corbet
Conservation America Campaign, Associate

Author: Ian Corbet

Conservation America Campaign, Associate

Started on staff: 2020
B.A., Washington University in St. Louis

Ian works on Environment America’s campaign to save the boreal forest from being logged for tissue products. Ian lives in Washington, D.C., and enjoys skiing, sailing and visiting our national parks.

The Public Interest Network’s Environment America and U.S. PIRG are working on multiple campaigns to help America get through the coronavirus pandemic as quickly and safely as possible. But we're also working to ensure that when the outbreak ends, the United States’ policies and practices ensure a cleaner, safer, better world for all of us. 

This weekly newsletter will highlight recent good news on the environmental front. If you have suggestions or comments, please email Ian Corbet (ian.corbet@publicinterestnetwork.org) or Josh Chetwynd (josh.chetwynd@publicinterestnetwork.org). 

U.S. Senate passes Great American Outdoors Act, a major investment in America’s public lands

The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan bill to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and provide $9.5 billion over five years to fix maintenance problems that are plaguing America’s public lands. The  bill was introduced by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), prevailing in the Senate 73-25. It now heads to the House, where a vote is expected in the coming weeks. 

“The Great American Outdoors Act reaffirms what every American can agree on: Open spaces – from our local parks and hiking trails to our national parks and forests – are our scenic and psychic bedrock. We need them, but we haven’t given them the protections they deserve,” said Environment America acting President Wendy Wendlandt.  “Senators on both sides of the aisle saw that, and came together to fix it. Next we’ll be asking the House of Representatives to do the same.”  

See Environment America’s full news release for more. 

New Jersey Wind Port will help state reach a 100 percent renewable energy future

New Jersey announced the development of the New Jersey Wind Port on Tuesday. It will be the first port in the country built specifically for offshore wind manufacturing. This port is designed specifically to meet the offshore wind industry’s unique needs and building specifications. The project puts New Jersey on the path to meet its commitment to producing 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2035.

“The Murphy Administration is taking a huge step forward to meet the aggressive goals of Gov. Murphy’s executive order to generate 7,500 MW of offshore wind by 2035,” said Environment New Jersey Director Doug O’Malley. “A South Jersey unobstructed off-shore wind port is the key step in building an off-shore wind supply chain to generate half of New Jersey’s energy from clean, renewable energy by 2030. The answer for New Jersey’s clean energy future has been blowing in the wind and this announcement cements the Murphy Administration’s commitment to making New Jersey the leader in off-shore wind.”

Hundreds join PennEnvironment for first-ever virtual Climate Action Lobby Day

PennEnvironment held its first-ever virtual climate action lobby day on Tuesday, with more than 500 Pennsylvanians meeting with representatives and senators in more than 100 Zoom meetings. The day was also filled with a virtual rally and several webinars from activists and partners, speaking on issues from clean cars to energy efficient homes. These actions led to four additional legislators signing onto 100 percent renewable energy bills, dozens helping move electric vehicle bills forward, and a greater commitment to submit public comment in support of Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“Virtual tools such as social media and webinars have helped us recruit volunteers and train Pennsylvanians to be great lobbyists throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Flora Cardoni, PennEnvironment’s Climate Defender Campaign director. “Making these meetings virtual has made interaction with legislators more accessible than ever before, so it’s no surprise this was our biggest lobby day yet.”

What else we’re celebrating:

  • New five-country survey finds overwhelming support for cleaner air: The results of a survey released this week reflected vast support for cleaner air in the five countries studied. India, Bulgaria, Britain, Nigeria and Poland all had large majorities in favor of improved air quality, public transit options and greater pathways for pedestrians and cyclists. These numbers show a desire for the continued cleaner air that cities have been experiencing during shutdowns.

  • EPA announces its first 'Trash Free Waters' grant: The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has awarded a $500,000 grant to prevent trash from spilling into Lake Michigan. The money will go to installing a trash collector on the Kinnickinnic River. The system is expected to collect an estimated 75 tons of trash annually, preventing it from polluting the Great Lakes.

  • Vermont awarded funding for electric public transit vehicles: Vermont is set to receive nearly $800,000 from the Federal Transit Administration to enhance its use of electric vehicles. The money will be used to purchase four new electric public transit vehicles, bringing the state’s fleet to a total of twelve.

  • Coal plants are retiring across the country: The last coal plant in Oregon is set to close in 2020, putting an end to the largest single source greenhouse gas emitter in the state. A coal-fired power plant in Colorado was also announced to be closing in the near future, 16 years earlier than expected. 

  • Supreme Court declines Oregon mining case, affirming Clean Water Act protections: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case concerning whether the Clean Water Act restricts the redistribution of sediment in regulated waterways. The court’s decision rejects a petition from mining associations and affirms the lower court's ruling that the Clean Water Act covers certain mining practices.

Looking for even more uplifting environmental content?

Environment America recently launched our Greener Together project. As people are practicing social distancing, the project aims to help us all foster a stronger connection with the natural world and with each other. The initiative includes engaging events, fun activities and helpful guides for both adults and children. The winners of our Greener Together writing contest were announced this month -- give them a read here.

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Environment America is a national network with affiliates in 29 states. Our staff and members work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. 

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

U.S. PIRG and Environment America are part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.

Ian Corbet
Conservation America Campaign, Associate

Author: Ian Corbet

Conservation America Campaign, Associate

Started on staff: 2020
B.A., Washington University in St. Louis

Ian works on Environment America’s campaign to save the boreal forest from being logged for tissue products. Ian lives in Washington, D.C., and enjoys skiing, sailing and visiting our national parks.