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). 

TD Bank adopts policy against drilling in the Arctic

TD Bank is the latest financial institution to announce that it will not fund oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bank, the second largest in Canada, ruled out providing financial resources for any oil and gas related activities that fall within the Arctic Circle, where the refuge is located. TD cited the importance of the area to fragile wildlife populations and the risks from climate change as the main reasons for the decision. TD joins six other large banks that have made similar commitments to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“Companies are increasingly getting the message: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must not be spoiled by drilling.” said Environment America Conservation Advocate Alex Petersen. ”It is one of the last pristine wilderness areas on Earth. It’s home to caribou, denning polar bears, and migratory birds from all 50 states and six continents. TD is doing the right thing by announcing they won’t finance a project that would be so damaging to the environment. We need more nature in this country, not more oil rigs.”

San Francisco prohibits natural gas in new buildings

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to prohibit the installation of natural gas lines in all new buildings constructed in the city. The measure will go into effect next year and will require builders to install all-electric systems. The burning of natural gas releases carbon emissions into the atmosphere and worsens the effects of climate change. California cities are leading the movement to get natural gas out of homes, with nearly 40 towns and cities restricting the use of the fuel in homes.

"Moving to clean energy to power our homes and cook our food is one critical step to staving off the worst impacts of climate change.” said Environment California State Director Dan Jacobson. “Sadly, the fossil fuel industry has blocked and thwarted similar ideas in the state Capitol. But, once again, local citizens concerned about climate change are coming to the rescue. San Francisco adds to an impressive list of cities in California that are banning the use of natural gas in our new buildings. Onwards."

Senate approves conservation funding for right whales

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $5 million in funding on Tuesday for the protection of North Atlantic Right Whales. The total is an increase of more than $2 million over last year. These iconic whales are at a critical crossroads in the survival of their species and need a variety of different conservation measures to stave off extinction. Researchers reported last month that the current population is around 366 individuals, which is 11 percent lower than previous estimates. Highlighting the danger to these majestic animals, researchers have spotted two different right whales in the last month entangled in fishing gear in American waters.

“It’s great to see our senators stepping up to protect this incredible species.” said Environment America Oceans Associate Michaela Morris. “For centuries, people along the Atlantic Coast have marveled at right whales. We must make sure that we aren’t the last generation to witness them.” 

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Louisiana to advance wind power on its coast: During the first meeting of Louisiana’s Climate Initiatives Task Force, Gov. John Bel Edwards proposed plans for his state to ramp up production of offshore wind energy. Emphasizing the potential for offshore wind to bring jobs and cleaner power to his state, the governor called for a coordinated task force between government agencies and stakeholders to bring this clean renewable power to the Gulf Coast.

  • Zoo celebrates birth of endangered primates: Potter Park Zoo, located in Lansing, Mich., announced the birth of two cotton-top tamarins this past month. The cotton-top tamarin, a small primate with a tuft of fluffy white hair on its head, is critically endangered in its native habitat in the forests of South America. The births were a part of a multi-zoo conservation program designed to save the species, which only number approximately 6,000 worldwide.

  • Veterans are rebuilding our coral reefs: Veteran military divers have been planting coral “gardens” off of the Florida coast in an effort to help restore the reefs and rebuild habitat for marine life. The initiative is part of a series of larger projects that the National Football League announced as legacy initiatives during last season’s Super Bowl, which was held in Tampa, Fla. In addition to the coral projects, the NFL has sponsored projects to restore dunes and mangroves in the Tampa area.

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.