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). 

California passes legislation on electric vehicle charging infrastructure, school energy efficiency

The California State Legislature passed a bill (A.B. 841) on Monday, which will enhance the state’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure as well as redirect funding to improve energy efficiency in schools. Most notably, the bill will help move California closer to reaching its goal of 5 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2030 by addressing the shortfall of about 80,000 EV chargers in the state. The bill, which also passed the state senate, now goes to Gov. Gavin Newson’s desk to await his signature.

“A total of 41 percent of California's greenhouse gas pollution comes from transportation and this bill helps address that problem by investing in more charging stations around the state,” said Environment California State Director Dan Jacobson. “ Our coalition of labor, business, public health, teachers and administrators helped us to put this on the governor's desk. Now we are urging him to sign the bill."

New Jersey passes electric vehicle charging bill

The New Jersey State Senate took an important step toward electrifying its transportation sector Thursday by passing legislation (A3367/S1951) that would encourage common interest communities to install electric vehicle charging stations for at-home use. Notably, the legislation prevents condo or homeowner associations from establishing rules to bar the installation of EV charging stations. This means that unit owners cannot be prevented from purchasing and installing charging stations for their parking spaces. The bill, which provides key momentum toward reaching the state’s goal of 330,000 EVs on New Jersey roads by 2025, passed the State Assembly unanimously last month and now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy for his signature.

“The ability to charge an electric vehicle at home is one of the most important factors people use to decide whether to purchase or lease an electric vehicle,” said Hayley Berliner, Clean Energy associate at Environment New Jersey. “At-home charging reduces range anxiety and provides EV drivers a sense of security, knowing that they can always charge when they get home at night. There is no reason why people who live in multi-family housing shouldn’t have access to this infrastructure.”

California votes to phase out harmful PFAS chemicals

The California State Legislature passed a landmark bill (S.B. 1044) on Sunday, which would require the phasing out of  toxic “forever chemicals,” best known by the acronym PFAS,which are commonly used in firefighting foams. The bill requires the various state agencies that use the chemicals to find alternatives. It also requires a ban on the manufacture, sale and use of the chemicals in firefighting foams by January 2022. PFAS chemicals are a significant source of water pollution and are present in the drinking water of about 7.5 million Californians. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature is now required to make the bill a law.

"Toxic PFAS 'forever chemicals' have been linked to increased cholesterol, hormone disruption, negative effects on the immune system, and even cancer,” said Danielle Melgar, U.S. PIRG’s Toxic Free Campaign advocate. “This bill will go a long way toward protecting Californians and first responders from exposure to these dangerous chemicals.""

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Endangered turtles released into the wild: Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo released ten endangered Blanding’s turtles into a nearby marsh this past week. The turtles are the first to be bred in the zoo’s captive breeding pond, which was developed in 2011. Blanding’s turtles are endangered in Illinois due to habitat fragmentation, but conservation efforts, which started in the 1990s, have started to pay off for the species.

  • Study shows success in mangrove conservation: A recent study has shown that efforts to conserve mangrove populations are paying off with decreased carbon emissions. The report demonstrated how  protecting and repopulating mangroves has been successful in offsetting the amount of carbon released through deforestation in some parts of the world.

  • Vermont takes additional steps to clean up Lake Champlain: The Vermont Department of Environment Conservation finalized a stormwater permit program for Lake Champlain. The rule requires certain property owners to limit runoff that can be potentially hazardous to the lake’s environment. The program will offer financial aid to help landowners implement the necessary changes.

  • Environmental group plans to sue EPA over pesticide risks: The Center for Biological Diversity has announced plans to legally challenge an Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to change its pesticide risk assessment standards to wildlife. The group claims that the EPA's policy shift will hurt pollinator populations and will fail to assess the impacts of pesticide runoff on wildlife.

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.