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). 

New report shows U.S. universities committed to renewable energy

A new report from Environment America’s Research and Policy Center ranks higher education institutions in key energy sustainability metrics. Most notably, the report shows that more than 40 colleges and universities currently obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources. Topping the list for campuses leading in renewable energy are Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York. Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida leads the pack in the electric vehicle category with a campus fleet made up of 85 percent EVs.

“America’s college campuses are the perfect place to lead in the much-needed rapid transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” said Emma Searson, 100% Renewable Campaign director at Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Our institutions of higher learning are innovators and leaders at their core. They can light the path toward a cleaner, healthier future, and these rankings show that many are already doing just that.”

North Carolina denies permit for pipeline extension

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has denied a permit for an extension of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. This rejection prevents the pipeline from stretching into the state. The department recognized the environmental risks the pipeline would pose and cited the uncertainty that the project would actually be completed for its decision. The more than 300-mile long pipeline has faced a number of legal challenges based on its dangers to the environment, but North Carolina’s permit denial represents one of the strongest legal blows.

"This permit denial along with the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, shows a vital turning point for North Carolina,” said Jamie Lockwood, the climate and clean energy associate at Environment North Carolina. “Let’s use this momentum to continue on a path all the way to the end of investing in fossil fuel infrastructure and toward wholly focusing on developing renewable energy sources across the state.”

Biggest single-sloped solar array in nation completed in Pennsylvania

The largest single-sloped array of solar panels in the U.S. has been completed at the site of an old steel mill in Pittsburgh. The array comprises 4,784 panels and covers an area of 133,000 square feet. With the project completed, it will now be able to produce enough electricity to power 264 homes each year. The project is situated at Hazelwood Green, in the city’s Hazelwood neighborhood.

"Pennsylvania has long been an ignominious leader in dirty fossil fuels, but this project is an encouraging sign that we're finally moving into a 21st century clean energy economy,” says Flora Cardoni the Climate Defender Campaign director at PennEnvironment. “We are excited to help build a 100 percent renewable energy future where solar projects like this power the commonwealth." 

What else we’re celebrating:

  • Kenya’s elephant population soars: More than 170 baby elephants have been born in one Kenyan national park so far this year. That’s around 50 more than were born in the park in the whole of 2018. These numbers add to a rebounding population in Kenya, where the elephant population has nearly doubled from 16,000 in 1989 to 34,800 in 2019. The numbers are a reflection of increased conservation and anti-poaching efforts within the country.

  • UK wind farm signs deal to sell power: The world’s largest offshore wind farm, which is being built off the coast of the United Kingdom, has finalized a 15-year deal to sell off a portion of its power. The deal will provide financial protection for the wind farm from price changes in the future. It also moves the project closer to completion.

  • Endangered zebras born in Florida wildlife refuge: Four Grevy’s zebras, the most endangered zebra species in the world, were born at White Oak Conservation in Florida. Only 2,000 adult Grevy’s zebras exist in the wild. They are found in the grasslands of East Africa. 

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.