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).

U.S. pledges to slash global warming pollution in half by 2030

President Joe Biden announced that the United States will commit to reducing global warming emissions 50 to 52 percent by 2030 as part of America’s commitments under the newly rejoined Paris climate accords. This nearly doubles the target agreed to in 2015 by the Obama administration. The reductions will hinge on an accelerated transition to carbon-free electricity and the phase out of gas-powered vehicles.

“If we implement common sense climate solutions today, we can preserve a livable planet, clean air and clean water for generations to come,” U.S. PIRG President Faye Park said. “Reducing pollution from dirty energy sources and our transportation vehicles, like our cars, trucks and school buses, will not only lower climate emissions, but will also clear our air and promote healthier communities. With his proposal to halve emissions by 2030, President Biden is putting the health of Americans at the forefront. The American people want a healthier future, and we’re glad to see President Biden take bold steps toward delivering one.”

Washington state passes ban on single-use plastic foam

Taking an important step to address the plastic pollution crisis, Washington’s Senate and House passed a bipartisan bill Monday that aims to ban many kinds of polystyrene -- commonly referred to as “Styrofoam” -- food containers and increase recycled content in packaging. Once signed into law by the governor, Washington will become the seventh state in the country to ban polystyrene foam takeout containers. In addition, the bill bans polystyrene fill peanuts, coolers and foodware; requires businesses to provide single-use utensils, cups, lids and condiments only upon customer request; and ensures that plastic beverage bottles, household cleaning and personal care bottles, and trash bags, contain minimum levels of post-consumer recycled content.

“Washington’s ocean habitats, waterways and wildlife are among the state’s most important treasures,” Environment Washington Associate Mandy Apa said. “By taking action to stop these dangerous single-use products, our leaders have chosen to put the planet over plastic. Nothing we use for five minutes should pollute our planet for generations to come.”

States will soon be allowed to set stricter vehicle emission standards again

The Biden administration announced it would begin undoing the Trump administration’s attempt to block states such as California from setting stronger tailpipe emissions standards than the federal government. Specifically, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted a notice seeking public input for the purposes of rescinding the Trump’s administration's action. This is the first step toward reaffirming California’s clean cars waiver under the Clean Air Act and allowing other states to adopt California’s more stringent greenhouse gas emissions standards and zero emissions vehicle mandates. 

“With raging wildfires, dirty air and drought threatening our environment, California suffers from some of the most severe climate and pollution impacts we’ve seen to date,” Environment California State Director Laura Deehan said. “Thank you President Biden for making this move toward restoring California’s ability to lead the way for clean air and cleaner cars.”

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Maine Legislature says no to neonics: The Maine House and Senate voted to advance a bill that would ban certain uses of bee-killing neonicotinoids. While more votes lie ahead, the bill has a strong potential to become law and help Maine’s honeybees and 270 species of native bees.

  • Hitting the brakes on plastic pollution: In a virtual road trip across America, Environment America and U.S. PIRG explored dozens of policies to address rampant plastic pollution. Some of the ways discussed to build a plastic-free future included single-use plastic bans and producer responsibility.

  • Connecting through environmental art: With more than 600 works of art from around the world, the Enviro-Art Gallery 2021 was launched earlier this month. Now in its fifth year, the program showcases paintings, poetry, videos and more.

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.