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 Alex Petersen (apetersen@environmentamerica.org) or Josh Chetwynd (josh.chetwynd@publicinterestnetwork.org).

Minnesota judge approves Clean Cars Rule

Minnesota could soon be the 14th state to establish clean cars standards. Following a multi-year rulemaking process, Minnesota Administrative Law Judge Jessica A. Palmer-Denig approved the state government’s proposal to adopt the Advanced Clean Cars Program. The rule creates both a low-emission vehicle (LEV) and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program. The LEV rule will strengthen regulations on tailpipe emissions for newly sold vehicles in an effort to reduce air pollution. The ZEV program will work to ensure more electric vehicles are manufactured and sold in Minnesota. 

“By protecting public health and combating climate change, this clean cars rule is a victory for not only every Minnesotan but every American,” said Simon Horowitz, Global Warming Solutions associate with Environment America. “Transportation is the largest source of global warming pollution in Minnesota, accounting for 26 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Cars, pickup trucks and SUVs are dirtying our air and harming our planet, which creates health risks. The state estimates that in 2013, which is the most recent year data available, 2,000 to 4,000 people in Minnesota died from air pollution-related causes. While we need accessible public transit, safer sidewalks and more bike lanes, the reality is many Minnesotans rely on cars. The clean cars rule will make the cars we drive cleaner and safer.”

America’s first major offshore wind project approved

Through a Record of Decision (ROD), the Biden administration gave final approval for Vineyard Wind 1, an offshore wind project off the coast of Massachusetts. This decision, which comes after years of permitting delays, gives the greenlight to what will be the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in the country. Experts expect this decision to spur other offshore wind developments. Vineyard Wind’s project serves as a key development toward realizing the Biden administration’s initiative to develop 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030, which was announced last month. 

“This historic decision to approve Vineyard Wind 1 is a huge step forward in America’s marathon to repower itself with clean renewable energy,” said Johanna Neumann, Environment America Research & Policy Center’s senior director for the Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “Clearing this final procedural hurdle on America’s first major offshore wind project is akin to firing the starting gun -- it signals to dozens of other projects that it’s time to take off. America only has a tiny amount of installed offshore wind installed to date, but that will soon change now that Vineyard Wind is first out of the blocks.”

Senate passes bipartisan water infrastructure bill

The Senate passed the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 by a bipartisan vote of 89-2. The legislation would provide a boost to water infrastructure by authorizing more than $35 billion over a five year period for water resource projects. The bill would also improve programs to replace lead pipes and stop lead contamination of schools’ water, and creates a program to increase water affordability.

“We applaud Chairs Tammy Duckworth and Tom Carper, and Ranking Members Shelley Moore Capito and Cynthia Lummis for spearheading this important legislation, and addressing our water woes with bipartisan action,” said Environment America President Wendy Wendlandt. “This legislation makes critically important investments in our outdated and failing water infrastructure. Our country may be divided, but this bill is a testament that we can make progress by starting where there is common ground.”

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Fossil fuel shareholders demand emissions cuts: Shareholders at two major U.S. oil and gas companies are pushing back against inaction on climate change. Two ExxonMobil board members were replaced by an activist hedge fund. Meanwhile, against the urging of Chevron’s board, 61 percent of that company’s shareholders voted in favor of a proposal to reduce emissions. 

  • Department of Interior releases major conservation report: The “America the Beautiful” report sets out a process to protect 30 percent of U.S. lands, waters and oceans by 2030. Early recommendations include enhancing the National Wildlife Refuge System, establishing new marine sanctuaries and expanding outdoor recreation opportunities. Currently, 12 percent of America’s land and 23 percent of American waters are protected.

  • Florida Wildlife Corridor Act passes unanimously: State lawmakers from both parties came together to pass a bill that dedicates $400 million to conservation in Florida with a specific focus on interconnecting the state’s wildlife habitats, a necessity for endangered Florida panthers.

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.