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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Emma Searson
Director, 100% Renewable Campaign

Author: Emma Searson

Director, 100% Renewable Campaign

(828) 545-7300

Started on staff: 2016
B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, Washington University in St. Louis

Emma oversees Environment America's national campaign for 100 percent renewable energy, working to deliver a bold vision for a future powered by clean energy one state at a time. Since joining the team at Environment America, Emma has led campaigns building and mobilizing public support for renewable energy and climate action in cities and states across the nation. She has authored reports on energy efficiency, solar energy and other renewable energy policy areas. Originally from North Carolina, Emma now lives in Boston, where she enjoys running, cooking and exploring the great outdoors in her free time.

Josh Chetwynd
Communications Manager

Author: Josh Chetwynd

Communications Manager

Started on staff: 2018
B.S.J., Northwestern University; M.S.J., Northwestern University; J.D., cum laude, University of Arizona; LL.M., merit, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Josh works on national communications and media relations for The Public Interest Network. Prior to his time at The Public Interest Network, he worked as a journalist, author and broadcaster. He’s penned seven books, including one New York Times best seller and an NPR best book of the year. As a broadcaster, he worked for BBC Radio, among other outlets. In a past life, Josh was a professional baseball player in both the U.S. and in Europe. Nowadays, he channels that energy playing the sport of curling. He lives in Denver with his wife and two children.

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 Emma Searson (emma.searson@publicinterestnetwork.org) or Josh Chetwynd (josh.chetwynd@publicinterestnetwork.org). 

Colorado aims for all electric vehicles; California strengthens electric truck proposal

States continued to emphasize the importance of electric vehicles this week. In its updated 2020 Electric Vehicle Plan, the Colorado Energy Office outlined its intention to electrify medium- and heavy-duty trucks at the end of last week. The roadmap also reinforces the state’s goals to put nearly one million electric passenger cars on the road by 2030 and transition Colorado’s fleet to include more electric vehicles.

On Tuesday, the California Air Resources Board strengthened a proposed rule to require truck manufacturers to sell a minimum percentage of electric trucks annually. The updated rule, the first of its kind in the U.S., would ensure that 20 percent of all trucks in the state -- including tractor trailers, passenger trucks and delivery vehicles -- be electric by 2035.

These announcements come a week after New Jersey committed to investing millions of dollars toward electrifying the state’s transportation system. 

“Transportation is now America’s number one source of global warming pollution, with greenhouse emissions from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles surpassing every other source,” said Morgan Folger, Clean Cars campaign director with Environment America. “That’s why it’s so crucial that we transition to zero-emission electric vehicles as we simultaneously work to green the electric grid with renewable energy sources. It is great to see states such as Colorado, California and New Jersey making serious plans to electrify transportation.” 

Environment America, allies stand up for clean water in court

Environment America and several conservation groups filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday, aiming to overturn the Trump administration’s Dirty Water Rule. The recently enacted rule revoked clean water protections for wetlands and streams that help provide drinking water for millions of Americans. The groups’ legal challenge, which specifically looks to safeguard Clean Water Act protections, will take place in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. 

Public support for maintaining Clean Water Act protections is widespread. More than one million Americans -- including business owners, local officials, scientists, hunters and anglers -- have provided comments to the Environmental Protection Agency, urging it to protect streams and wetlands under the law. 

“As surely as water flows downstream, the Dirty Water Rule endangers the waterways where millions of Americans swim, fish, boat and draw our drinking water,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney and clean water program director for Environment America. “Moreover, the rule violates the Clean Water Act itself, as we noted in our comments to the EPA. The Dirty Water Rule defies common sense, sound science and the law. Clean water is vital for our health, our way of life, and for nature itself. We will not rest until protections for America’s waterways are restored.”

Fast Company chooses Environment America’s 100% Renewable Campaign as a finalist for 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards

The national business magazine Fast Company named Environment America’s campaign for 100 percent renewable energy as a finalist for the media outlet’s World Changing Ideas Awards. The “10 states, 50 cities, 50 colleges, 100% renewable” campaign was one of nine finalists announced Tuesday in the Politics & Policy category.  

“It’s great to have 100% Renewable energy honored as a world-changing idea,” said Emma Searson, 100% Renewable campaign director with Environment America. “We’ve been working to build support for 100 percent renewable energy since 2008, which was long before it was cool. With seven states, more than 150 cities and 37 campuses across the country having already set goals of 100 percent clean or renewable energy, we now have a lot to show for our work. This growing momentum speaks to Americans’ hunger for a solution to our energy challenges that respects ecology and matches the scale of the problems of air pollution and climate change.” 

See our full statement. In addition, U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair campaign also made the list of finalists.

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Protected sea turtles begin nesting in Georgia: The first batch of loggerhead sea turtle eggs was found Monday on Cumberland Island beach, according to Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources. The total population of the federally protected species has been steadily increasing in recent years in the Southeast, and Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources dispatches nearly 200 volunteers daily to mark and monitor their nests.

  • Conservancy begins restoring Tahoe’s largest wetland: The California Tahoe Conservancy announced on Tuesday that the largest wetland restoration project in the history of the Lake Tahoe Basin has begun. The Upper Truckee River Marsh includes more than 600 acres of ecologically crucial wetland and is a popular recreation area. The restoration effort will improve water quality, support wildlife and help combat climate change by capturing and storing carbon.

  • General Mills aims for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030: The major food company is now one of 234 companies committed to 100 percent renewable energy through the RE100 global corporate initiative

  • Coal is becoming a power of the past: The last coal-fired power plant in Sweden shut down this month. This landmark event means the country will meet its goal for coal-free power two years earlier than a self-imposed deadline. Sweden is now the third European country to eliminate coal. And, on Tuesday, Britain broke its own record for the longest stretch without coal-fired power generation after reaching 19 consecutive coal-free days. 

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. It now includes special Earth Day materials. 

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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.


Photo credit: WR7 via Shutterstock

Emma Searson
Director, 100% Renewable Campaign

Author: Emma Searson

Director, 100% Renewable Campaign

(828) 545-7300

Started on staff: 2016
B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, Washington University in St. Louis

Emma oversees Environment America's national campaign for 100 percent renewable energy, working to deliver a bold vision for a future powered by clean energy one state at a time. Since joining the team at Environment America, Emma has led campaigns building and mobilizing public support for renewable energy and climate action in cities and states across the nation. She has authored reports on energy efficiency, solar energy and other renewable energy policy areas. Originally from North Carolina, Emma now lives in Boston, where she enjoys running, cooking and exploring the great outdoors in her free time.

Josh Chetwynd
Communications Manager

Author: Josh Chetwynd

Communications Manager

Started on staff: 2018
B.S.J., Northwestern University; M.S.J., Northwestern University; J.D., cum laude, University of Arizona; LL.M., merit, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Josh works on national communications and media relations for The Public Interest Network. Prior to his time at The Public Interest Network, he worked as a journalist, author and broadcaster. He’s penned seven books, including one New York Times best seller and an NPR best book of the year. As a broadcaster, he worked for BBC Radio, among other outlets. In a past life, Josh was a professional baseball player in both the U.S. and in Europe. Nowadays, he channels that energy playing the sport of curling. He lives in Denver with his wife and two children.