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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Josh Chetwynd (email@example.com).
Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia provide leadership on offshore wind energy
In a show of bipartisan support for renewable energy, the governors of Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia announced Thursday that the three states have created a partnership to coordinate the development of offshore wind. The collaboration, known as the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources (SMART-POWER), will develop a leadership team with representatives from each state. The group will work to expand and promote wind energy in these states.
“This partnership is a critical step toward tapping into the vast potential of offshore wind in our country,” said Environment America Research and Policy Center’s Go Big on Offshore Wind Associate Hannah Read. “Our coasts have the capacity to meet the nation’s electricity needs twice over with offshore wind energy, and we must take advantage of that opportunity in order to create a robust clean energy future.”
New report highlights effective ways to combat plastic waste crisis
The U.S. PIRG Education Fund on Thursday released a report, Break the Waste Cycle, highlighting the effectiveness of producer responsibility programs in preventing the plastic waste crisis. Under producer responsibility programs, manufacturers – not individuals or taxpayers – are responsible for the waste their products create. They also bear responsibility for the collection and proper recycling of those products at the end of their useful lives. This incentivizes producers to design their products to be more environmentally friendly throughout their lifecycle. Both the mattress and plastics industries in Canada have experienced success with this approach. Producer responsibility bills are being considered in Maine, Washington and California as well as on a federal level.
“Our current system rewards waste makers. Disposable products are cheap to manufacture, but they rack up a terrible cost for the environment,” Alex Truelove, Zero Waste Program director at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, said. “We need a system that rewards companies for creating reusable, repairable and resilient products and reducing waste.”
New Jersey switches out planned fracked gas plant for renewables
NJ Transit President Kevin Corbett announced this past week that New Jersey will promote a clean, renewable energy option that will incorporate solar and battery storage to power the proposed Transitgrid microgrid. The plan will “reimagine” a project previously focused on a fracked gas power plant. That initial proposal was to install a 140 megawatt fracked gas power plant on the banks of Hackensack River. NJ Transit has now reversed course and will focus on renewable sources of energy like solar and battery storage for that space.
“NJ Transit is getting this decision right – a clean, renewable energy resiliency project can provide a national template on how to get resiliency right and move away from a fracked gas power plant that would have belched out climate and air pollutants,” said Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey’s director. “This is a huge moment for the thousands of citizens, legislative leaders and elected officials that have written, testified, rallied and kayaked in an effort to get NJ Transit to move toward renewable options.”
What else we’re celebrating:
Record number of endangered turtles hatch in Mexico: The Seri indigenous community in Mexico released more than 2,000 olive ridley sea turtles into the Gulf of California. This total far outnumbers the typical annual average of around 500 turtles. This baby boom is exciting news for the endangered turtle and is attributed to lack of human activity and nest disturbance as a result of beaches closing during the pandemic.
Scientists discover monumental coral reef: A team of researchers studying the Great Barrier Reef discovered a massive, 500-meter-tall reef detached from the main reef. The discovery is particularly exciting as the new reef seems to have evaded some of the coral bleaching that has decimated much of the Great Barrier Reef in recent years. As such, this new reef appears to host a variety of healthy coral communities and marine life.
Wisconsin convent earns conservation award: The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have received a land conservation legacy award in recognition of more than a century of stewardship. The group has sustainably managed their land of more than 200 acres as well as contributed to the conservation efforts of the greater area around them.
Conservationists reach a deal to protect owl habitat: A judge approved a legal agreement requiring the U.S. Forest Service to review the impacts its activities, including logging, have on the threatened Mexican spotted owl. Conservationists have fought for this outcome to ensure that logging activities don’t continue to destroy the habitat of this threatened owl species in the U.S. Southwest.
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.
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.