Good as news: positive environmental stories you may have missed

Media Contacts
Arielle Ostry

Josh Chetwynd

The Public Interest Network’s Environment America and PIRG work on multiple campaigns to ensure the country’s policies and practices create a cleaner, safer, better world for all of us. This monthly newsletter highlights recent good news on the environmental front — both from the work we do and elsewhere. If you have suggestions or comments, please email Arielle Ostry ([email protected]) or Josh Chetwynd ([email protected]). 

Bipartisan infrastructure deal passes in the U.S. Senate

After much debate, and multiple failed “infrastructure” weeks in years past, the U.S. Senate negotiated a $550 billion infrastructure package, which, if passed by the House, will include major investments in transportation, clean water and energy. The House is expected to vote in September. 

In a 69 to 30 vote, the Senate adopted the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Among other provisions, the bill provides funding for getting the lead out of our drinking water, reconnecting wildlife habitats and cleaning up Superfund sites. 

“This historic investment will leave our country healthier, stronger and more resilient,” said U.S. PIRG Chairman Doug Phelps on the deal. “We look forward to its passage and the hard, but necessary work of finding more common ground on solutions to more of America’s problems.”

Celebrating the first anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act

Aug. 4 marked an important milestone celebrated by many environmentalists and conservation advocates. The day signified one year since the Great American Outdoors Act became a law. By doing so, it secured permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and ensured an additional $9.5 billion over five years be allocated to updating America’s public lands infrastructure. 

In honor of the day, Environment America staff across the country posted about their favorite memories made in local, state and national parks. They also thanked Congress for this much-needed funding to preserve the country’s public lands. 

“One year after being signed into law, the Great American Outdoors Act has been a sweeping victory for the United States’ lands, wildlife and communities,” said Conservation Advocate Alex Peterson. “This once-in-a-generation conservation law has allowed us to protect endangered habitats and secure the public’s access to our country’s breathtaking natural treasures.”

The California Energy Commission votes in favor of solar requirements

The California Energy Commission (CEC) voted unanimously this past month to advance solar and energy storage requirements for new commercial buildings and high-rise multi-family dwellings. These requirements will help the state reach its clean energy goals. 

With this decision, California’s commitment to the growth of rooftop solar is strengthened at a pivotal time. Currently, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is weighing whether or not to make significant cuts to the state’s net metering program, a key policy that compensates solar panel owners for the excess energy they contribute to the electric grid.

“For some time now, California has been a national leader on rooftop solar,” said Environment America Go Solar Campaign Director Bronte Payne. “It’s done this through a commitment to smart policies and this plan from the CEC is one more example of that forward thinking. This approval helps move California a big step closer to reaching its clean energy goals.”

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Oil lease development slows in the Arctic Refuge: The Interior Department announced last month that it would conduct a new environmental review on the impact of oil drilling on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The review will consider the effect drilling has on native species like polar bears and caribou along with the impact such activities will have on the land and climate change. 

  • South Fork Wind project passes federal environmental review: A proposed offshore wind project, planned off the coast of New York’s Long Island and Block Island, Rhode Island, passed its environmental review. This advances the wind farmt toward final approval scheduled for October. Once in operation, the project will produce up to 132 megawatts, enough energy to power 70,000 homes and businesses in the state of New York.  

  • Making way for wildlife: More than 600,000 miles of fencing covering the American West and blocking animals like mule deer, who need to migrate seasonally, will be removed. This summer, volunteers with Absaroka Fence Initiative began this process, starting with removing these barriers in Wyoming outside Yellowstone. 

  • Gov. Murphy signs NJ C-PACE bill into law: A new program that will encourage New Jersey businesses to adopt and embrace renewable energy technologies and promote climate and electric grid resiliency became law this month. In response, Environment New Jersey State Director Doug O’Malley said: “C-PACE is the most popular energy efficiency program you haven’t heard of, and it will make a huge impact to turbo charge green financing for energy efficiency investments.” 

Looking for even more uplifting environmental content?

Environment America also has our Greener Together project. 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. 


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.