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). 

Procter & Gamble shareholders vote overwhelmingly to address forest impacts

At Procter & Gamble’s annual general meeting, which was held virtually on Tuesday, shareholders bucked the recommendation of the company’s board and voted for a proposal asking P&G to report on its efforts to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in its supply chains. The proposal, which received the support of 67 percent of the votes cast, comes at a time when the company is under scrutiny for its tissue sourcing from the Canadian boreal forest. Historically, the corporation’s high-profile Charmin, Bounty and Puffs brands have relied on virgin wood fibers in their product, which leads to unnecessary logging in the Canadian boreal forest, an important carbon sink and home to caribou, lynx and more. 

“Shareholders used their power to stand up for our natural world and sent a clear message to Procter & Gamble’s leadership that the boreal forest is simply too important to be turned into tissue paper,” says Steve Blackledge, Environment America Research & Policy Center’s conservation program senior director. “The boreal forest is the most carbon dense forest in the world, home to incredible biodiversity such as endangered caribou and lynx. We hope P&G brands such as Charmin will take important action and begin using recycled paper or alternative forest-free fibers to lessen their impacts on the boreal and other forests.”

New Jersey committee passes bill to restrict chemical linked to bee die-off

The New Jersey Assembly’s Environment and Solid Waste Committee passed legislation on Thursday to classify neonicotinoids, commonly known as neonics, as restricted-use pesticides. New Jersey is now on its way to joining other states, including Maryland, Connecticut and Vermont, in implementing restrictions on neonics. This act is important because these pesticides are known to adversely affect pollinator health and have been linked to declining bee populations. When exposed to neonics, bees can either die or be impaired in their ability to fend of disease, navigate, grow or survive harsh winter temperatures.

“Bees have an immeasurable impact in sustaining our New Jersey ecosystems,” says Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “Restricting the use of neonics in key pollinator areas such as our lawns and golf courses is a vital step in creating a more habitable environment for these creatures to thrive. For the sake of our state insect, the honeybee, and the approximately 450 species of native bees across the mid-Atlantic, New Jersey is moving forward with measures to protect these and other pollinators.”

What else we’re celebrating:

  • New report provides key steps necessary for protecting species and climate: A new study released Wednesday offers a roadmap for protecting the world’s biodiversity and preventing some of the worst effects of climate change. The report concludes that restoring 15 percent of developed lands, including farmland, to their natural states could prevent species extinctions and could help stabilize our changing climate by sequestering large amounts of carbon dioxide. The new report has the potential to bolster support for the ongoing campaign to protect 30 percent of our land and oceans by 2030.

  • Endangered monkeys take hold of  inventive new tool: An innovative conservation solution is being used in the fight to  save the Hainan gibbons, which are considered Earth’s rarest primate species. Rope bridges that connect distant tree canopies were installed a few months ago. Now, the gibbons are starting to use them. The bridges have potential to help save these species from extinction as they allow for the monkeys to travel across fractured forest habitat.

  • Electric vehicle technology experiences a breakthrough: Researchers in China recently announced a breakthrough in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. The scientists reported they’ve developed EV batteries capable of being charged in less than 10 minutes. This  technology would drastically reduce charging wait times, which would make it much easier for these vehicles to overcome their current common range of 300 miles -- a factor that’s been seen as a barrier to EVs’ widespread adoption.

  • Endangered pygmy hippo born in Boston zoo: Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo announced the birth of a pygmy hippopotamus this week. The male is the first birth of this species at the zoo. This is exciting news for the endangered species, native to the rainforests of West Africa, as there are estimated to be only 2,500 left in their native habitat.

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. 

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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.