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.

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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). 

U.S. House votes to fund replacement of lead pipes across the country

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass a measure that would provide $22.5 billion over five years to fund replacement of lead service lines, which are the single worst source of lead contamination in drinking water. This public health amendment is sponsored by Reps. Tlaib, Kildee, Slotkin, Cicilline and Moore. This is the first time that the U.S. government has  taken on the significant challenge of lead in drinking water.Lead is a potent neurotoxin that is especially damaging to our childrens’ health. The measure is one of the few amendments to the ambitious House infrastructure package (H.R. 2) that received a stand-alone vote on the House floor.

“Congress has taken the single greatest step we’ve seen this century to reverse the pervasive lead contamination that continues to plague our drinking water,” said John Rumpler, Environment America’s Clean Water Program director. “We’ve long known that 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 our schools and child care centers.We urge the Senate to adopt this ambitious measure so we can ensure safe drinking water for all Americans.”

Congressional committee releases ambitious climate report, calling for wide reforms

Led by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, Democrats on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis released a comprehensive report Tuesday detailing policies and programs to tackle climate change at the federal level. The report is based on twelve pillars of action with the overall goal of achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions in the United States by 2050. The focus includes transforming our transportation system, preserving natural resources and public lands, increasing clean energy, and improving clean water infrastructure.

"Global warming is unlike any other problem, because it's woven into every aspect of how we live our lives,” said Environment America acting President Wendy Wendlandt. “The select committee report reflects the wide range of deep changes we need to get a handle on climate change -- from the things we buy to the energy we use to the ways we treat the natural world. It's a bold blueprint at a time that requires bold action. We look forward to working with Americans from all parties and perspectives to make that vision a reality." 

To read statements on the report from policy experts on clean water, conservation, transportation and more, click here to read Environment America’s full statement.

Colorado Springs Utilities Board votes to close two coal plants

The Colorado Springs Utilities Board voted Friday to close two of the city’s coal-fired power plants. The Martin Drake and Ray Nixon power plants will close by 2023 and 2030, respectively, leaving only a handful of these plants left in the state. The board’s decision capped off years of efforts from clean air and environmental activists who called for the plants’ closures. The board also voted not to replace these sites with natural gas options, paving the way for more renewable power sources to be built in the area.

"Colorado cities are leading the way to 100 percent renewable energy, and we're excited that Colorado Springs has taken this important step,” said Environment Colorado Field Director Len Montgomery. “Coal plants have no place in a 21st century energy system. Retiring the coal plants is great news for the residents of Colorado Springs, who shouldn't be breathing polluted air. And it's great news for all of us working to cut global warming pollution."

 

What else we’re celebrating:

  • California votes for first-in-nation EV truck requirement: California passed a measure calling on automakers to sell more electric trucks in 2024 and requiring all new trucks sold in 2045 to be electric. This measure looks to help the state meet its ambitious clean air and climate goals -- and eliminate harmful diesel pollution from California’s air.

  • Coal plants continue to wind down operations across the U.S.: In addition to the closures in Colorado’s coal plants, Arizona and Georgia announced similar changes as well. Both states anticipate shuttering most of their coal plants by the end of the decade. 

  • Rare New Zealand bird makes a conservation comeback: The kakī, a rare wading bird native to New Zealand, is seeing record population numbers. These totals reflect  decades of conservation work. The outcome represents a rebound for this once widespread species, which has faced threats from invasive predators.

  • PG&E proposes all-electric new building construction: California’s largest gas and electric utility has expressed support for requiring buildings to be constructed using all-electric utilities as opposed to gas infrastructure. As the state works toward zero-carbon emissions, switching buildings from gas to electric is a key step to achieving this goal.

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 last month -- give them a read here.


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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.

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.