News Release

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). 

California Gov. establishes framework to protect 30 percent of land and coastal waters by 2030

Joining a movement embraced by countries and cities around the world, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on Wednesday for his state to protect “30 by 30,” conserving 30 percent of its land and coastal waters by 2030. Newsom said the action should help make California more resilient to the impacts of climate change and wildfires, and help detoxify the state’s air and water.

“Whether you’re on the coast of Northern California or in the inland desert of Palm Springs, Californians take pride in our unique landscapes and the beauty of our land and waters,” says Steve Blackledge, Environment America’s Conservation Campaigns senior director. “That’s why we are glad to see the governor recognize conservation of our natural spaces as a core solution to the mounting threat of climate change. By conserving California’s ecosystems, future generations will be able to appreciate the towering redwoods, the expansive deserts and the iconic animals that call our forests, deserts, grasslands and coastal waters home.” 

Baltimore City Council passes ban on toxic pesticides

The Baltimore City Council on Monday voted in favor of a new comprehensive regulation on pesticides. The bill restricts the use of chlorpyrifos, neonicotinoids and glyphosate (the main ingredient in the popular weed killer RoundUp) in Baltimore City. The regulation will go into effect on July 1, 2022. These three pesticides have been found to threaten public health, pollinators and aquatic life. 

“Scientists, farmers, beekeepers and advocates have sounded the alarm: These toxic pesticides have got to go.” says Environment Maryland Director Kate Breimann. “We’re grateful to Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke for sponsoring this legislation and to the Council for voting it through. We encourage Mayor Jack Young to sign this ordinance into law. Our pollinators are dying at an unprecedented rate and banning these chemicals is a critical first step to protecting our bees, our food and our planet.” 

New report outlines benefits of transportation/climate initiative

Harvard researchers released a study Tuesday showing that a proposed region-wide program to reduce Northeast and Mid-Atlantic transportation emissions will have significant public health benefits. The prospective program, known as the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), would create an enforceable and mandatory limit on transportation pollution and would generate revenue for investment in clean transit and pedestrian infrastructure. 

“Our fossil-fuel-based, car-centric transportation system is making us sick,” says Ethan Evans, U.S. PIRG Transportation Campaign associate. “We need to break free from the transportation status quo, where tailpipe pollution clouds the air on gridlocked streets. By directly reducing pollution and raising money for transit, walking, biking and transportation electrification, TCI could be our ticket to a healthier future. The writing on the wall is abundantly clear: TCI pays for itself -- not only on the balance sheet but also in the well-being of our citizens.”

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Canada moves to ban single-use plastics: The Canadian government announced plans to ban a number of single-use plastic items by the end of 2021, including plastic straws, bags and takeout containers. The commitment brings the country a step closer to achieving its goal of zero plastic waste by 2030.

  • Tasmanian devils reintroduced to Australian mainland: Conservationists have reintroduced 26 Tasmanian devils to mainland Australia, where they have been absent for thousands of years. The reintroduction of this endangered species has the potential to reduce the amount of invasive creatures and rebalance the ecosystem to benefit the native wildlife populations.

  • Judge grants protections to California salt ponds: A federal judge has ruled that salt ponds near San Francisco are protected under the Clean Water Act, reversing an Environmental Protection Agency decision that claimed the waters weren’t entitled to the law’s safeguards. The decision stalls the possible development of the wetland, which conservationists have fought to protect.

  • Bank refuses to fund drilling in Arctic refuge: The Royal Bank of Canada has amended its policy guidelines, stating that it will not finance any project that would lead to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is home to an incredible array of wildlife, including polar bears and large caribou herds However, the federal government has recently paved the way for it to be opened up to oil and gas development.

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. 

###

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.