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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Josh Chetwynd (email@example.com).
New report shows decade of U.S. renewable energy progress
In 2019, the U.S. produced over 30 times more solar power and more than triple the amount of wind energy than it did in 2010, according to a new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center. The project, Renewables on the Rise 2020, documents the growth of five key clean energy technologies during the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. In addition to the growth in renewable energy, utility scale battery storage increased 20-fold since 2010, energy consumption per person declined thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and more than one million electric vehicles were sold in the U.S.
“America's growth in clean energy is primarily the result of states taking action," said Emma Searson, 100% Renewable Campaign director with Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Forward looking policies designed to tap into each state’s vast renewable resources are creating a virtuous cycle of technological advancements, falling costs and greater deployment. Renewables continue to beat all expectations and in the decade ahead, we have an opportunity to reimagine our energy future with these technologies front and center.”
Ambitious ocean conservation bill introduced in Congress
An ambitious new bill introduced on Tuesday by House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva would change Americans’ relationship with our oceans and aid in our fight against climate change. The legislation safeguards large swaths of our oceans; promotes ocean-habitats that most effectively store carbon; and limits human activities that harm important habitats and wildlife. The act includes provisions that end offshore drilling leasing in all U.S. oceans, protect 30 percent of U.S. oceans from destructive activities by 2030, and increase permitting for offshore wind.
“From sea to shining sea, coastal waters -- and the amazing animals that live in them -- have always held a special place in Americans’ hearts,” said Wendy Wendlandt, acting president of Environment America. “Now, climate change is threatening those habitats. This bill offers concrete answers on how we can turn the tide against global warming and ensures awe-inspiring marine species have a fighting chance at survival.”
Environment America submits more than 10,000 comments to protect water-saving showerheads
Environment America submitted 10,184 member comments this past Wednesday -- along with comments from Environment America, U.S. PIRG and state organizations -- urging the Department of Energy (DOE) to protect consumers and the planet by maintaining showerhead efficiency standards. The comments, from all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, were made in response to the Trump administration’s proposal to loosen water and energy efficiency standards for showerheads.
“For decades, showerhead efficiency standards have created a win-win-win situation for consumers by saving energy, water and money,” said Brynn Furey, Environment America’s Energy Conservation and Efficiency associate. “The Trump administration now threatens to undo that triple victory by rolling back these standards. While wildfires rage in California, hurricane after hurricane batters the Gulf Coast and a climate change-induced megadrought settles across the western United States, dismantling policies that address water and energy overuse couldn’t come at a worse time.”
What else we’re celebrating:
Oregon’s last coal plant shuts down: The owners of Oregon’s last remaining coal fired power plant shut it down permanently last week. During its operation, the plant was the single worst source of greenhouse gas pollution in the state, pumping nearly 2 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
Carpet maker unveils carbon-negative product: Interface, the largest carpet manufacturer in the world, is launching a new product that can help buildings meet their carbon footprint goals. The company has already achieved carbon neutrality for its products through the use of offsets, but now is aiming to create a carpet that stores carbon through the use of rapidly renewable biomaterials.
Japan plans to go carbon neutral by 2050: Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to announce next week that Japan has set a target to be carbon neutral by 2050. The announcement will come in his first official policy address as Prime Minister and will make Japan the latest country to make a strong commitment to reduce its carbon impact.
Senator introduces ambitious divestment bill: U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced the Protecting America’s Economy from the Carbon Bubble Act. This legislation would prevent banks and other financial institutions from funding fossil fuels. The bill, which was lauded by environmental groups, seeks to stop the burning of fossil fuels by stopping the flow of money that allows these projects to operate, a strategy that has been seen in calls for universities to divest their endowments from fossil fuel investments.
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.