News Release

Good as news: positive environmental stories you may have missed

The Public Interest Network’s Environment America and PIRG work on multiple campaigns to ensure the country's policies and practices create a cleaner, safer, better world for all of us. This weekly newsletter highlights recent good news on the environmental front -- both from the work we do and elsewhere. If you have suggestions or comments, please email Arielle Ostry (arielle.ostry@publicinterestnetwork.org) or Josh Chetwynd (josh.chetwynd@publicinterestnetwork.org).

Oregon becomes eighth state to commit to 100 percent clean electricity

Thanks to Gov. Kate Brown’s signature,  Oregon is now the eighth state committed to 100 percent clean electricity. The Beaver State’s new law requires energy companies to provide 100 percent clean electricity to its customers by 2040, tying the state of New York for the fastest clean energy timeline in the country.

Environment Oregon has been working on this issue since 2017, implementing a door-to-door canvass program that delivered a vision for 100 percent renewable energy to the doorsteps of 400,000 Oregonians. 

"It's exciting to see Oregon once again leading the country on clean energy and climate action," said Celeste Meiffren-Swango, State Director with Environment Oregon. "Powering our state with clean energy, instead of dirty fossil fuels, cuts climate emissions from the electricity sector and helps keep our air and water clean, ensuring a clean and healthy future for all Oregonians.” 

Electrify America plans to double the number of its EV charging stations by 2025

The charging network Electrify America will operate 10,000 charging stations across the country following a newly announced expansion. The organization is funded by Volkswagen (VW) as part of a legal settlement following revelations that the company misled consumers about its vehicles’ emissions performance.

Both PIRG and Environment America have worked for years to ensure VW is held accountable for its emissions cheating and that the money from the settlement is used to further the public interest by reducing transportation emissions. 

“Climate change is happening now: Last month was the hottest June ever recorded in the U.S., and even worse heatwaves are expected later this summer,” said Environment America Global Warming Solutions Associate Eve Lukens-Day in response to the announcement. “Electrify America’s latest expansion plan moves us further down the longer road toward making the investments necessary in electric vehicle infrastructure needed to stop climate change.” 

Colorado tackles plastic pollution with groundbreaking new law

Gov. Jared Polis signed the Plastic Pollution Reduction Act into law earlier this month, banning single-use plastic bags and foam in Colorado and removing restrictions on local municipalities. This change allows local leaders to enact stricter policies to reduce plastic waste. 

Both Environment Colorado and CoPIRG worked to rally support for the landmark bill, organizing more than 400 young people to participate in youth lobby days and collecting petition signatures from 21,000 Coloradans and 200 small businesses promoting wildlife over waste.

“Using something for five minutes when it will pollute our planet for hundreds of years is antithetical to stewardship and conservation,” said Environment Colorado Senior Program Director Rex Wilmouth in response to the bill signing. “Coloradans value our beautiful wild places and this law to reduce plastic waste is an important step toward ensuring the long-term protection of our state’s natural heritage. 

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Federal government proposes to reinstate protections for the Tongass: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed a plan to restore protections to Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. This move introduces a new ban on most old growth timber sales from the Tongass and suggests restoring “roadless rule” safeguards for the forest. The roadless rule, which was enacted in 2001, keeps wild spaces free from roads and logging, but the Trump administration stripped its protections for the Tongass in 2020. 

  • PFAS Action Act passed through U.S. House: The bipartisan bill designates two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund program. It also directs the EPA to limit PFAS discharges in waterways and places a moratorium on new PFAS chemicals. Also known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS take a long time to break down and have been linked to health problems, including birth defects and cancer. The bill must now pass the Senate. 

  • New Jersey to replace lead pipes: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed a bill into law requiring utilities in the state to replace all lead pipes carrying drinking water (known as “service lines”) by the end of the decade. This move to get lead out of drinking water will protect New Jersey residents from drastic lead contamination, which in the past has plagued such cities as Newark and Jersey City. The new law adds momentum to a national effort underway to replace all lead service lines.

  • California red-legged frogs make breeding comeback: Following the Woolsey fire -- a 2018 wildfire that decimated areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties -- scientists unexpectedly found the threatened red-legged frog making a breeding comeback at two separate sites in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area. Katy Delaney, an ecologist at the park, called the discovery a “welcome surprise.”

Looking for even more uplifting environmental content?

Environment America also has our Greener Together project. 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. 

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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.