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).
President Biden announces plans to set U.S. on course toward a greener, healthier future
President Joe Biden wasted no time in following through on several campaign promises related to protecting the environment and addressing climate change. Among the actions he has already taken or will within the week:
Rejoining the Paris Agreement
Canceling the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline
Banning new oil and gas permitting on public lands, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Reimposing methane pollution limits
Reviewing the Trump administration’s decisions to strip protections for iconic places such as Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bears Ears and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine national monuments
Using the federal government procurement system to make facilities more reliant on clean energy and to purchase zero-emission electric vehicles
Reestablishing a working group on the social cost of carbon
Rescinding rollbacks on vehicle tailpipe emissions standards.
Ordering the EPA to review Trump administration rollbacks such as Dirty Water Rule, weaker standards on coal ash, and updates to the Lead and Copper Rule
“After four years of environmental setbacks, a new day has dawned,” said Environment America acting president Wendy Wendlandt. “President Biden showed us just how serious he is about his campaign promises to protect the environment and take bold climate action. There remains a lot of work to do, but the president has set us on a course toward a greener, healthier future.”
“When we put the environment at risk, we put the health of Americans at risk,” said U.S. PIRG president Faye Park. ”These actions by President Biden will lead to a healthier environment and healthier Americans. We hope that this marks an inflection point where our federal policies match the nation’s desire to build a healthier and safer future for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.”
Statements from experts from Environment America and U.S. PIRG on the specific climate and conservation provisions of Biden’s plan are available here.
What else we’re celebrating:
Virginia House passes foam ban: The Virginia House of Delegates voted 58 to 40 to pass a ban on polystyrene foam (commonly referred to as Styrofoam) cups and take-out containers in the state. Polystyrene products are one of the most frequently observed types of plastic litter in the ocean. The bill now heads to the state senate for action.
Court vacates Dirty Power Plan: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the Trump administration’s “Dirty Power Plan'' on Tuesday. The plan aimed to repeal earlier stringent environmental regulations, which were previously set by the Obama administration and are essential for moving toward clean renewable energy.
Gulf Marine sanctuary expands: The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which is the only known nursery in the world for manta rays and is an important feeding grounds for sea turtles, sharks and many species of fish, will officially be expanded by 104 square miles. While smaller than the expansion preferred by conservationists, the area will still increase to 160.4 square miles and protect 14 new reefs and banks.
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.