Ten things we learned in 2019

By Wendy Wendlandt
Chair, Environment America Research & Policy Center; Senior Vice President and Political Director, The Public Interest Network

Our work to protect the environment always starts with research. Through thoughtful policy development and hard-hitting reports, we examine problems, evaluate the best science, and propose meaningful solutions.

In 2019, Environment America Research & Policy Center together with Frontier Group released reports on promising solutions to global warming, vexing problems for our oceans and wildlife, and exciting gains for renewable energy. 

Ten things we learned in 2019:

  1. America produces almost five times as much energy from the sun and wind as we did a decade ago. - Renewables on the Rise

  2. More than 40 colleges and universities now obtain 100 percent or more of their electricity from renewable energy sources. Two Texas schools topped the list of most renewable electricity generated per student (Southwestern University and Austin College), followed by my alma mater, Whitman College. - America’s Top Colleges for Renewable Energy

  3. Thirty-seven states are making money meant for reducing air pollution available for diesel or other fossil fuel-based technology. - Volkswagen Settlement State Scorecard

  4. Recycling is in trouble (in some places). - State of Recycling National Survey

  5. “Offshore drilling” may be a misnomer, given all the pipelines, toxic waste facilities, and refineries needed on land. - Offshore Drilling, Onshore Damage

  6. Fecal bacteria makes many of our beaches unsafe for swimming at least a few days each year. - Safe for Swimming?

  7. Thousands of hog waste lagoons, coal ash ponds, and toxic facilities pose a risk to our waterways (especially during a hurricane). - Accidents Waiting to Happen

  8. Today’s electric technologies can meet nearly all our home and business energy needs—often at a competitive cost and with a fraction of the pollution caused by fossil fuel combustion. - Electric Buildings

  9. Composting could reduce the amount of trash we send to landfills and incinerators by at least 30 percent. - Composting in America

  10. Cleaner public transportation is ready to roll. - Electric Buses in America

In 2020, look for a new report on how to reduce carbon pollution from transportation, an update to our online map of threats to water quality in the Delaware River Basin, our annual report on dirty air in America’s cities, and new resources to deal with the threat of plastic pollution, among other timely research and writing.

You can also read about our sister organization Environment America’s work turning this research into policy here.