News Release

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

For Immediate Release.

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 monthly newsletter highlights recent good news on the environmental front. If you have suggestions or comments, please email Malia Libby (mlibby@environmentamerica.org) or Josh Chetwynd (josh.chetwynd@publicinterestnetwork.org).

Pennsylvania creates largest government solar commitment in the U.S.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a new renewable energy initiative that is the largest solar commitment by any U.S. governing entity. All told, this initiative will supply nearly 50 percent of the state government’s electricity through seven new solar arrays located in Pennsylvania’s Columbia, Juniata, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and York counties. When the project is completed in early 2023, it is expected to deliver 361,000 megawatts of electricity each year and reduce climate-triggering carbon pollution by nearly 158,000 metric tons annually.

“Going solar is a triple win for Pennsylvania: It’s good for our planet, good for our health, and good for our pocketbooks,” PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur said. “Harnessing more of the sun’s energy means cleaner air, a more stable climate, more resilient communities and an energy source we can depend on that’s virtually pollution-free. This is a keystone solar policy for the renewable energy future in the Keystone State. Smart public policy decisions like this one have been the key drivers of the incredible growth we’ve seen in solar power across the nation.”

EPA relaunches climate science and policy website

The Environmental Protection Agency’s website has returned to a focus on climate science and policy. Under the previous administration, this type of information was removed from the site. The relaunch serves as a strong signal that the Biden administration will restore the role of science in protecting our communities and public health.

“By empowering Americans with the best scientific evidence available, the Environmental Protection Agency is providing a critical service that aligns squarely with its mission to protect our environment and public health,” said Andrea McGimsey, senior director for Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions campaign. “Only when we’re armed with the facts about what we face now and in the coming years -- and have information on what we can do to make a difference on climate change -- can we make the best decisions possible to protect the vibrancy of our communities and a stable future for our children and grandchildren.

Virginia moves toward single-use plastics phase out

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a key order in addressing plastic pollution. Executive Order 77 eliminates disposable plastic bags and single-use foodware at all state agencies within 120 days, and phases out a wider range of single-use plastics in the state agencies and public universities by 2025. It also directs the state government to develop solid waste reduction and landfill diversion recommendations. The order builds on Virginia’s plastic reduction leadership after Gov. Northam approved a ban on polystyrene foam cups and take-out containers. Localities are now able to establish a plastic bag fee. 

“Whether single-use plastic ends up in a landfill, an incinerator or in our environment, the waste it creates for just a few minutes of convenience will have long-term consequences for our communities and the environment lasting far into the future,” U.S. PIRG Zero Waste Program Director Alex Truelove said. “By eliminating the worst forms of single-use plastic and taking the first step toward a future with less waste, Gov. Northam truly is setting a strong example for other states to follow.”

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Bald eagle numbers soaring: Once teetering on the brink of extinction, the bald eagle population in the lower 48 states has quadrupled since 2009. The news has been hailed as a “historic conservation success story” by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

  • Report marks offshore wind’s immense potential: A new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group found that offshore wind could deliver 90 percent of America’s projected 2050 electricity demand. 

  • Baby right whale boom: In the 2021 North Atlantic right whale calving season, 17 live calves have been spotted by researchers, which is nearly as many observed in the last four calving seasons combined. Each birth is closely monitored as fewer than 400 whales remain in the total population.

Looking for even more uplifting environmental content?

Environment America also has 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. 

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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.