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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). 

 

The Great American Outdoors Act is signed into law 

President Donald Trump signed into law on Tuesday the Great American Outdoors Act, which will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and provide $9.5 billion over five years to fix maintenance problems plaguing America’s public lands. Environment America has prioritized LWCF, America’s best conservation and recreation program, for years, and has fought for its full funding using such tactics as handing out lawn signs and banners, funding billboards, and passing out LWCF-themed face masks to lawmakers. 

“The Great American Outdoors Act is now law, and that’s no small accomplishment,” says Steve Blackledge, Environment America’s Conservation Program director. “There’s finally a lock and key on money that was always intended for conservation projects -- yet, for decades, has been consistently diverted to other purposes. This new law is not only a major investment in outdoor spaces but also in every American’s physical and mental health. It’s a decisive step toward acknowledging that our lives are made richer if surrounded by more nature, more open spaces, whether it’s a local park or the Grand Canyon.”

House spending bill allots billions for public health and the environment

The U.S. House passed a major climate-focused appropriations bill last Friday. The bill authorizes billions of dollars in spending that would help rebuild and modernize the United States. The money is intended to expand access to clean transportation, upgrade the electric grid and energy supply infrastructure, and protect public health and the environment. 

“With this spending bill, the House is starting to put its money where its mouth is on climate,” says Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG Environment Campaigns director. “Every American knows we must do all we can to eliminate the pollution and practices that are warming the planet and changing our climate. We need to take immediate and concrete steps to stop the use of fossil fuels for energy and accelerate the transition to a transportation system that doesn't pollute. We hope this appropriations bill today is just one more key step toward loosening the federal purse strings in order to solve this existential danger.”

New House bill sets historic 10-year deadline to replace all lead pipes

U.S. Reps. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Henry Cuellar of Texas introduced last Friday the Get the Lead Out Act, which sets a 10-year deadline to replace lead service lines. These lines are the single worst source of lead contamination in drinking water.

“This is a historic bill,” says John Rumpler, Clean Water Program director for Environment America. “Lead is a potent neurotoxin that is especially damaging to our childrens’ health. Yet it’s still getting into the drinking water in thousands of communities across America, including at schools and child care centers. We know the problem, and we know how to fix it. Lead service lines are a chief culprit in this contamination. Now is the time to act decisively. The Get the Lead Out Act sets a clear, feasible deadline to accomplish this critical public health task, and it authorizes the federal dollars needed to get the job done.”

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Colorado court upholds emission rules: A Colorado judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged new regulations on emissions coming from oil and gas sites. The decision upholds policies dedicated to improve the regional air quality and prevent greenhouse gas pollution.

  • Wind energy becomes cost competitive with fossil fuels in Europe: Offshore wind energy is increasingly cost competitive compared with fossil fuels across Europe. In some cases, countries will soon be able to build wind farms without the need of government funding. Europe is providing a beacon to the U.S. that renewable energy is not only feasible but also financially attractive.

  • Forest expansions in New Hampshire: Two community forests in New Hampshire are expanding to provide new access to recreation and to protect wildlife and drinking water. The Paul T. Doherty Memorial Forest will grow by 2,020 acres and The Milan Community Forest will grow by 678 acres

  • BP makes strong climate commitments: Ten years after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP is taking the lead among its competitors in climate commitments. The company plans to cut a large portion of its fossil fuel production and invest billions into clean energy projects. This announcement comes as oil and gas demand has plummeted across the world and people are increasingly turning to renewable energy to power their lives.

  • Urban forests provide climate benefits in India: In Chennai, India, community-driven efforts to plant urban forests are helping to combat climate related issues in the city. The forests have brought wildlife back to parts of the city and helped mitigate the effects of water shortages. These green spaces have also had positive social effects on the communities and increased land stewardship.

 

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. Check out our self-guided summer camp experience that you can do from your own home.

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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.