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

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 weekly newsletter will highlight recent good news on the environmental front. If you have suggestions or comments, please email Ian Corbet (ian.corbet@publicinterestnetwork.org) or Josh Chetwynd (josh.chetwynd@publicinterestnetwork.org). 

 

Energy companies put an end to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced on Sunday that they are pulling the plug on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. After numerous legal setbacks and delays, the companies will abandon the heavily opposed 600-mile pipeline, which would have been built through some of Virginia's most iconic landscapes, including its farmland, mountains and forests. In addition, Dominion Energy announced a deal to sell off its natural gas assets to Berkshire Hathaway. The move is an indication that the company is making a sharp shift away from fossil fuel development. 

“This is a victory for both Virginia’s beautiful landscape and communities that were earmarked to be in the path of this dangerous and dirty pipeline and for the promise of a clean energy future that Virginians have wanted for years,” said Environment Virginia’s State Director Elly Boehmer. “This pipeline would have tied the region to an unhealthy and dangerous fossil fuel project for decades. We are thrilled to see this shift away from dirty energy.  It represents one more important step toward a comprehensively clean, renewable energy future in our state."

House passes Moving Forward Act, featuring positives for clean energy and EVs

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill last Wednesday. The Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2) includes a number of provisions on clean energy, including extensions for clean energy tax incentives. Specifically, critical extensions for solar and wind energy tax credits, expanded incentives for electric vehicles and energy efficiency, and new credits for energy storage. 

“Clean energy tax incentives are one of the best policies America has to advance renewable energy and bring about cleaner air, cleaner water and a more stable climate,“ said Ben Sonnega, Environment America’s Go Solar Campaign associate. “Tax incentives have spurred tremendous growth in renewable energy and energy efficiency over the last decade, and the passage of H.R. 2 is a step in the right direction for continuing that progress.  We urge the Senate to adopt these same vital clean energy measures. Congress must ensure that critical clean energy tax programs are a core part of our nation’s plans to build the cleaner, healthier future we need coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Virginia becomes first southern state to join RGGI 

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that Virginia is officially the first southern state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a consortium of Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states that has worked together for more than a decade to successfully cut pollution from power plants.

“Global warming affects every American, and the Southeast is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and extreme weather,” says Andrea McGimsey, senior director for Environment America’s Global Warming Solutions campaign. “It’s great to see Virginia take a commanding role on one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. By joining the successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Governor Northam and Virginia’s General Assembly have taken a strong step towards a future that’s powered by 100 percent renewable energy and healthier for all Americans.”

 

What else we’re celebrating:

  • UK set to close last coal plant: The United Kingdom is set to close its last coal power plant by 2024, ending the use of an energy source that the country pioneered. This follows a series of closure announcements in the United States this past week. Germany also passed legislation this week that will phase out coal and other fossil fuels in the coming decade. 

  • Pipelines suffer blowback across US: In addition to the canceling of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, two other pipelines suffered setbacks this week. The Supreme Court blocked construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a judge shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline.

  • Scientists aid conservationists with bat DNA analysis: Researchers have analyzed the DNA of the tequila bat, giving conservationists insights on how best to protect this species. The tequila bat is a crucial pollinator of the agave plant, the main ingredient in tequila, and so its conservation is necessary for the production of this alcohol.

  • Judge stops logging in Montana roadless forest: A judge has stopped a plan for logging in a forest near Montana’s capital, Helena. The decision said  the Forest Service was dishonest when it claimed that the tree harvesting wouldn’t require road construction. Roadless forests are protected wilderness areas that do not permit the construction of roads and are mainly reserved for wilderness and low-impact recreation.

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. The winners of our Greener Together writing contest were announced last month -- give them a read here.

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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.