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Year in Review: Environmental victories in 2021
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Year in Review: Environmental victories in 2021

Year in review: environmental victories in 2021

A new president administration opened the doors to more national action from Environment America. State partners made progress in the country at the same time.

DENVEREnvironment America and its state partner made significant progress on a wide range environmental issues in 2021, including protecting wild spaces and our drinking waters and speeding our transition from dirty energy to clean energy. The first year of President Joe Biden’s presidency saw increased action at the federal level, including the passage and enforcement of strong environmental protection measures by federal agencies. The state leaders made many important policy decisions at the state level. These included commitments to 100% renewable energy and banning single-use plastics.

We made clear progress in 2021 towards improving the health of the planet and all those who depend on it with the landmark bipartisan infrastructure bill.President of Environment America, a nonpartisan national advocacy organization, Wendy Wendlandt said.We have not done everything we could or should. It is time to build on our momentum on issues such as transportation and conservation, and Pass legislation that will give us a fighting chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

Here’s a list of 2021 state- and national-level environmental highlights. This includes work done by Environment America, its state-based partners, and from coast to coast.

Our staff rallied their support to win the Clean Power Plan. Photo credit: Staff

Solutions to global warming

Environment America was a vocal voice calling for the United States to join the international Paris Agreement before Joe Biden became president. On Earth Day, President Biden pledged to reduce global warming by 50% by 2030 to help achieve the Paris agreement goals.

This was only the beginning. There are many victories that could help solve the problems in our transportation sector, which is the largest source of climate-damaging greenhouse gases emissions in the country. Environment America supported the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This Act includes the largest ever federal investment in electric vehicle charger infrastructure ($7.5 billion) and funding to buy thousands of clean-electric school buses and low- and no-emission transit busses. President Biden also issued an executive ordering that the federal government purchase 100% zero emission vehicles (ZEVs), by 2035, for its fleet of over 600,000.

The EPA also proposed a Methane Emissions Reduce Action Plan. This plan will reduce methane emission by 41 million tonnes through 2035. It’s equivalent to taking more 200 million cars off the roads for a single year. The federal clean cars rule that the EPA has finalized was more than 3.1 million tons of avoided greenhouse gas emission through 2050. This will equal more than half the net U.S. carbon dioxide emission in 2019. Electrify America was funded by Volkswagen to punish it for its emissions cheating scandal. It announced that it would more then double its network of electric vehicle charging stations in 2025. The company is already the largest fast-charging network, and will soon operate more than 1,800 fast charging stations and 10,000 individual charging stations in nearly all 50 states.

Many states have also seen a rapid increase in cleaner transportation. In 2021, Washington, Minnesota, Nevada, and Virginia all adopted the advanced clean car program. 17 states now have the low-emission vehicle program (LEV), while 15 have the zero emission vehicle (ZEV). Massachusetts requires that all new cars sold by 2035 must be zero-emission. Environment Texas is partnered with TexPIRG. Successfully pressedHoustons transit agency should commit to zero-emission buses by 2030. Austin Transit Agency AnnouncementIt would purchase 197 electric buses for Austin’s public fleets over the next five-years, making it one of the largest ever electric vehicle purchases in the United States.

Elsewhere, Colorado passed legislation To install EV charging stations within state parks; Oregon A bill was passed Extend tax credits for electric cars; and, California has the state earmarked $1.4 Billion for zero emission transportationGov. Gavin Newsom Issued an executive orderr Requires 100% ZEV sales by 2035

States didn’t stop at transportation policies when it comes to climate solutions. California No new fracking allowed after 2024And Several calls for the end of oil production by 2045. Governor. Tom Murphy An executive order was issuedTo cut greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030

More than 2 million petitions have been delivered by staff to the Dept. Protection of public lands by the Department of InteriorPhoto credit: Jenny Nordstrom


On the inauguration day, President Joe Biden unveiled America the Beautiful, which aims at protecting 30% of the U.S. lands, and oceans, by 2030. The federal government has taken many tangible actions to protect our wild spaces, animals, as recommended by Environment America. They included restoring three national monuments which had been stripped by Trump’s administration. These were Bears Ears, Grand Staircase–Escalante and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts. reestablishing safety measures for the Tongass National Forest. Trump-era rollbacks to Endangered Species Act threatened the future for animals on the verge of extinction. Federal regulators also made progress toward Chumash Heritage National Marine MonumentThis will be vital to the marine life off Northern California’s coast.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included a number key conservation provisions. The $350 million infrastructure bill that was passed bipartisanally has been made law. Crossings on wildlife highwaysThis will make it easier for species to connect, replenish, and avoid some of dangers associated with human encroachment. Florida, at the state level, recognized the importance these connectors when it passed The Florida Wildlife Corridors Act. This law allocates $300,000,000 of federal stimulus money for the construction of wildlife corridors in priority state areas.

In addition to wildlife crossings, the infrastructure bill allocated $2 million per annum for infrastructure. Pollinator habitatsThese animals will be encouraged to use roads. We didn’t stop supporting bees. Maine passed the Most severe state-level “save our bees” lawEnvironment Maine’s tremendous support helped to reduce the number of bee-killing neonics. Massachusetts also took steps for the protection of bees. New rules to be adoptedThe retail sale and distribution of neonicotinoids, which are a common and dangerous toxin for pollinators, was prohibited.

Pennsylvania rally for clean electricity Photo credit:Brenda Nguyen Photography

Clean Energy

As we have seen, state leadership has been crucial in America’s shift to clean and renewable energy in the last few years. Notably, in 2021, two states, Oregon and Illinois, committed to 100% clean electricity. This brings the total nationwide to nine states with specific timelines for transition.

Massachusetts is another option. A climate bill was passedThis will reduce energy waste, and ensure that at most 40% of its electricity comes renewable sources by 2030. California announced that it will require solar panels as well as battery storageThese panels produce energy for new commercial buildings and high rise multifamily dwellings. This is in addition to its existing solar requirements for single-family homes as well as multifamily homes up three stories. And in March, Pennsylvania had the largest governmental solar commitment in the country to date. Seven new solar arrays will provide electricity for nearly half of the state’s residents.

Many states made significant progress with offshore wind when it came to renewable energy generation. The development of offshore wind was initiated by the Maine state legislature. New offshore wind research arrayWith an eye towards tapping its enormous potential. Nearby, New Jersey passed a billThis will allow offshore wind and related transmission projects to move forward quickly. Approved 2,658 megawatts of new offshore wind capacityThe Jersey Shore. This is enough clean energy to power over 1 million homes in New Jersey. It is part of its Climate billMassachusetts increased its commitment to offshore wind power from 2,400 MW to 5,600MW by 2027. This is enough to power approximately 2.8 million homes. And California passed a bill This will direct state regulators in California to establish an offshore wind target for Golden State and to develop a plan for the development, operation, and maintenance of the first utility-scale offshore renewable energy projects off the West Coast.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is federally funded, will help America transition to clean energy sources. It will reduce energy waste, modernize the electrical grid to increase resilience, and upgrade transmission lines.

Luke Metzger is Director of Environment Texas. Photo credit:Denbow

Water purification

Our long-running campaign to get the lead out of our drinking waters won hard-fought victories at both state and national levels. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act contained $15 billion to replace lead service lines and $200 millions for schools to get lead out of their drinking waters. In December, the White House revealed The Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and the Paint Action Planto reduce lead exposure and prevent lead contamination in drinking water. It includes unprecedented federal funding and a commitment from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. to propose requirements, in combination with other actions that would replace all lead services lines as quickly and efficiently as possible.The plan covers 15 actions in 10 federal agencies, allocations for relevant federal funding, as well as a cabinet-level collaboration to reduce lead in child care centres and schools.

After a three-year campaign led by Environment Washington, the Washington state legislature passed a law named after Bruce Speight, our former state director who died from cancer in 2019. important limitsLead in school drinking waters Similar bills in New York MarylandIn 2020, it was also made law. New Jersey was the first state to respond to our call for the replacement of all lead service lines within ten years when it approved an Environment New Jersey-backed bill. Environment California and its allies in the west were successful The stateto set precedent-setting limits for lead in new faucets, fountains, and water bottle stations.

Other victories in this sector include the acquisition of federal funding for water infrastructure under the federal bipartisan bill. This will reduce sewage overflows as well as runoff pollution. It was also a major win to repeal the Dirty Water Rule of the Trump administration, which threatened clean water across the country. The Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), also committed to establishing new limits on PFAS discharge into streams and rivers.

A decade-long effort of Environment New Jersey, PennEnvironment, and other allies culminated in a significant environmental victory when the Delaware River Basin Commission decided that it would permanently protect the river. ban frackingIn the river basin. PennEnvironment and other plaintiffs are also available in Pennsylvania PPG settled a nine year-long Clean Water Act suit. The company will need to obtain a permit for pollution, treat its water first time, and contribute $250,000 to a Pennsylvania non-profit water research center.

Anya Fetcher, Environment Maine State Director (fourth from left), with Gov. Janet Mills signing into law the Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging Program. Photo credit: staff

Waste is better than wildlife

In 2021, a wide range of Americans took significant action to prioritise wildlife over waste and fix the problem of how plastics, foam, and other packaging are used for so little time but then pollute our land for hundreds of years.

Maine passed a bill that was the first in the countryThis makes the producers responsible for the entire life cycle of their packaging. Virginia passed aA ban on single-use foam cup and take-out containers in all 50 statesA ban on intentional balloon launches is also in place. Gov. Ralph Northam An executive order was issuedAll single-use plastics must be phased out in all state agencies and public colleges and universities. In Georgia, Savannah A city ordinance was adoptedEliminating single-use plastics from municipal buildings. Colorado Banned plastic bags and foam cups.

Washington, West Coast The strongest polystyrene foam ban was passedOregon and, AnnouncementReforms to its recycling system EstablishmentThe country’s second producer accountability program, which requires manufacturers to shoulder the financial responsibility for packaging and paper products Following strong support from Environment Oregon.

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