Good as news: positive environmental stories you may have missed this week

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.

 | 
Ian Corbet
Conservation America Campaign, Associate

Author: Ian Corbet

Conservation America Campaign, Associate

Started on staff: 2020
B.A., Washington University in St. Louis

Ian works on Environment America’s campaign to save the boreal forest from being logged for tissue products. Ian lives in Washington, D.C., and enjoys skiing, sailing and visiting our national parks.

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).

Environment America launches first-of-its-kind solar home campaign

In the wake of California’s move to require all new homes to be built with solar panels, Environment America launched a first-of-its-kind campaign calling on states across the country to set similar standards for solar power on new homes. The coordinated national campaign will advocate for a solar homes requirement in at least ten states: Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. While each state may have slightly different goals, the campaign’s intention is to introduce bills in 10 states in the next two years. 

“For a generation facing the threat of climate change, the new American Dream is not ‘a car in every garage,’ it’s ‘a panel on every roof,’” said Susan Rakov, chair of Environment America’s Clean Energy program. “Power from the sun is a gift from the environment, protecting our health from dirtier power options and giving us a shot at leaving our kids a better world. We have the technology to build every new building in our communities with clean, renewable energy. So let’s do it. ”

American honeybee populations bounce back after a bad year, survey finds

Honeybee populations have seen a recovery after significant losses in the past year, according to the Bee Informed Partnerships annual survey. In the winter of 2018-2019, a record of 37.7 percent of bee colonies died off, which were compounded by a large summer die off rate as well. This past winter, however, die offs rates were the second lowest they have been in the past 14 years. Environment America has worked on a variety of campaigns aimed at conserving bee populations. These campaigns have included banning of harmful pesticides, encouraging pollinator friendly landscaping, and raising awareness on the environmental consequences of bee die-offs.

“We rely on bees to pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of the world’s food,” says Steve Blackledge, senior director of Environment America’s Conservation America Campaign. “No bees means no food, and we must make sure we all take steps to ensure the health of honeybee hives; from planting pollinator friendly gardens to working against the use of bee-killing pesticides.”

New report: Despite tissue products damaging boreal forest, some positive change is occurring

The Natural Resources Defense Council released its second Issue with Tissue Report, highlighting the impact that U.S. tissue manufacturers are having on the Canadian boreal forest. The report, which was endorsed by Environment America, outlined how large tissue manufacturers are continuing to rely on virgin forest fiber sourced from clear cut forests to make toilet paper and other single-use tissue products. However, the report also indicates a more positive trend in the tissue market, with new companies offering toilet paper made from sustainable/recycled materials. These products don’t rely on practices that lead to destruction of the boreal forest.  

“The boreal forest is one of the most important ecosystems on the planet and the fact that it is being cut down to be used for something as disposable as toilet paper is unthinkable.” says Ian Corbet, Environment America’s fellow on the Protect the Boreal Campaign. “Thankfully, the report offers promising news that sustainable alternatives to tissue products are increasing in the marketplace. This gives hope that the boreal will remain standing to serve as a carbon sink and vital habitat for numerous species for generations to come.”

For more information on the report, contact Jennifer Skene.

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Lyft commits to using 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030: The ride-sharing service Lyft announced that it is making a change to address the climate crisis and is committing to using 100 percent electric vehicles by the end of the decade. Working with policymakers, to help meet this goal, Lyft plans to help make EV infrastructure more available and at a lower cost.

  • British utility company plans to build giant onshore wind farm: SSE PLC, a Scottish utility, announced a plan for a 443-megawatt wind farm alongside a host of other decarbonization projects aimed at reducing Great Britain emission totals. 

  • YouTube videos can aid wolf conservation, study says: A North Carolina State University study says that viewing positive wolf videos make people more likely to work toward protecting them. Changing negative feelings toward wolves is an important tool in encouraging the adoption of policies that helps the endangered animals.

  • Xcel pledges 3 billion for clean energy: The largest utility company in Minnesota has proposed speeding up $3 billion dollars’ worth of clean energy investments. This plan intends to drastically reduce carbon emissions.

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. The winners of our Greener Together writing contest were announced this month -- give them a read here.

###

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.

Ian Corbet
Conservation America Campaign, Associate

Author: Ian Corbet

Conservation America Campaign, Associate

Started on staff: 2020
B.A., Washington University in St. Louis

Ian works on Environment America’s campaign to save the boreal forest from being logged for tissue products. Ian lives in Washington, D.C., and enjoys skiing, sailing and visiting our national parks.