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

For Immediate Release.

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). 

NOTE: This newsletter will be off next week. We hope all our readers have a happy Thanksgiving!

 

Michigan governor moves to shut down half century old pipeline:

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took a big step toward closing the Line 5 oil and gas pipeline this past week. The underwater pipeline, which is located in the Straits of Mackinac and crosses across the U.S.-Canada border, has received widespread criticism due to its environmental risks to the Great Lakes. Among other issues, the governor’s decision was prompted over concerns that the more than 60-year-old pipeline could spill into the lakes, impacting the drinking water of millions of people and decimating the ecosystem.

“Once again, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is showing her environmental leadership,” said Nathan Murphy, state director of Environment Michigan. “Just over a month after committing Michigan to carbon neutrality by 2050, she’s making this important announcement. The governor is making the right decision considering the company behind the pipeline failed to follow through on promises made about environmental safeguards. 

New Jersey set to build first-in-nation wind power tech:

New Jersey is set to be the first state to construct an interconnected transmission system between wind farms, helping to lower the costs of transferring the power generated offshore to the people who use it back on land. The state’s utilities board voted unanimously for this option to be evaluated in order to help New Jersey manage the immense amount of wind power that it is projected to generate in the coming years. This project will help the state meet its goal of generating 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035.

"New Jersey is poised to be the national leader on off-shore wind because of the state's commitments to build 7,500 MW of clean, renewable energy off the Jersey Shore over the next decade,” said Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. But one of the vexing issues has always been how to deliver that clean power to land. The NJBPU's announcement to team up with our regional electric grid to come up a plan to deliver that energy and to explore a back-bone transmission option are all signs that off-shore wind is getting ready for prime time in the Garden State," said Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.

UK announces ban on new gas cars by end of decade:

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week a ban on the selling of new gas-powered vehicles, starting in 2030. The decision is part of a larger environmental and economic plan that seeks to reform the country’s industry to reduce its climate impacts. Alongside the rapid phase out of gas-powered cars, the plan aims to incentivize renewables, improve fuel efficiency and preserve more nature. The UK’s new policy on vehicles follows California’s executive order earlier this year that requires all vehicles sold after 2035 produce zero emissions.

“We cannot address climate change without phasing out gas-powered cars, and we applaud the UK for embracing the promise of clean transportation,” said Morgan Folger, director of Clean Cars Communities campaign at Environment America. “With this year's record-breaking hurricane season and some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded, it's increasingly clear we need to act fast to stop burning fossil fuels. I hope our U.S. leaders take a cue from our friends across the pond and accelerate electric car sales here at home.” 

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Kazakhstan wind farm gets historic funding: A proposed wind farm project in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan has received a large amount of funding from a variety of international banks. Of particular note, is a nearly $35 million  loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This is the first investment that the bank has made on a renewable energy project in the region. Kazakhstan is in the process of transitioning away from its heavily coal based electric system to widespread use of renewables.

  • Endangered black rhino born at UK zoo: Chester Zoo in England announced the birth of a critically endangered eastern black rhinoceros this past week. The female calf, born at the end of October, is an exciting addition to a species that is on the brink of extinction. Less than 1,000 eastern black rhinos are left on the planet, and conservation breeding programs are seen as necessary to preserve and eventually rebound the species.

  • Map of bees provides guide for conservation: Scientists have released the first comprehensive global map of all 20,000 different bee species and their distributions. The map highlights areas where bee species thrive; where populations are especially diverse; and areas where they are less common. The researchers hope that the map can serve as a baseline to understand the ongoing threats that climate change and pesticides are posing to these vital pollinators.

 

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. 

 

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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.