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

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Ian Corbet

Environment America

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 ([email protected]) or Josh Chetwynd ([email protected]). 

U.S. House passes historic Great American Outdoors Act

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and provide $9.5 billion over five years to fix maintenance problems that are plaguing America’s public lands. With a vote of 310-107, the bill garnered considerable bipartisan support and now heads to the president’s desk. 

“The Great American Outdoors Act embraces what we all know to be true: protecting and enhancing our public lands is an essential part of the American ethos,” said Environment America’s Acting President Wendy Wendlandt. “By locking in $900 million a year for outdoor projects, plus providing a short-term infusion of money to address maintenance issues, the House is reaffirming that commitment to the natural world. We applaud the House’s bipartisan passage of the Great American Outdoors Act and ask that President Trump sign this important bill.” 

Thousands call for clean energy to be part of Covid-19 recovery

Led by Environment America, more than 10,000 Americans this week called on Congress to use the power of the federal government to boost clean energy. Specifically, the petitioners are pressing Congress to extend solar and wind energy tax credits; expand incentives for electric vehicles and energy efficiency; and create new tax credits for energy storage projects. This call to action comes as Congress begins discussion on a second COVID relief effort

“If we want healthier communities today and a livable future for generations to come, Congress should heed the voices of these 10,000 constituents and act to boost clean energy,” said Ben Sonnega, Environment America’s Go Solar Campaign advocate. “Record numbers of homeowners are interested in exploring solar and are counting on tax incentives to help cover the cost. Many of these incentives are set to expire in the next year. With only a few weeks to pass relief legislation, now is the time for Congress to prioritize clean energy investments. For the sake of our planet and future generations, we must keep clean energy growing and these federal policies play a critical role.”


What else we’re celebrating:

  • Rare plant seen in northern Wisconsin after long absence: A rare carnivorous plant has made a reappearance in northern Wisconsin after not being seen in the area for the past twenty five years. The English sundew plant was first spotted by kayakers and the local experts confirmed it was the elusive carnivorous plant.

  • Climate action is a large part of EU stimulus: The European Union has greenlit a COVID-19 economic rescue plan that focuses largely on combating global warming. Nearly one-third of the 1.8 trillion euros in funding is designated for combating climate change. This includes investments in clean energy electric vehicles and meeting other climate goals. The sizeable investment is considered the greenest stimulus plan ever approved.

  • N.Y. governor unveils large EV charging investment: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an investment program in electric vehicle charging infrastructure last Thursday. The $750 million package includes funding for for more than 50,000 charging stations. This addition should help eliminate a central concern drivers face when determining whether to purchase EV — namely, a lack of places to fill up with electricity. 

  • Australian town to house ambitious solar thermal plant: Mount Isa, a town in northern Queensland, Australia, will be the site for an innovative solar thermal plant. The plant will utilize technology that captures heat from the sun, which can then be stored for up to 16 hours for further use. The project aims to provide solar energy to the nearby town as well as provide groundwork for more plants to follow. 

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. Check out our self-guided summer camp experience that you can do from your own home.


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.