Pilgrim Nuclear may shut down

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station could be on the way out. For years, the power plant has posed a danger to residents in Massachusetts. Now, after more than 43 years, it may finally be shut down, if officials decide they cannot afford to make repairs on the aging power plant. The plant's safety rating was downgraded in September to the second-to-lowest category, making it one of the least-safe plants in the country. If the needed repairs are not made, the plant will move into the lowest category -- and close.

Dozens of groups in Massachusetts, including MASSPIRG and Toxics Action Center have long fought against nuclear power, and Pilgrim in particular. A report released in April, endorsed by MASSPIRG and Toxics Action Center, shows that Pilgrim pollutes Cape Cod Bay and destroys marine life in the area. Toxics Action Center, along with a broad coalition, has kept up the pressure on Gov. Charlie Baker and state leaders to close the plant and turn to cleaner energy sources. 

Call for an end to Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station now.

Environment New Mexico Wins Fights For Solar Power

This week, Environment New Mexico celebrated a major campaign victory for our Go Solar Campaign.

For months, Environment New Mexico has campaigned against changes proposed by the utility Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM). PNM wanted to change the way rooftop solar customers earn credit for solar energy through net metering, but this week the utility finally backed off and did not propose new net metering changes in its recent filing to the utility commission.

Environment New Mexico's Go Solar campaign team has certainly been busy over the last few months. In early September, Environment New Mexico's Carly Poremba released the group's third Lighting the Way report. The report ranks the top solar-producing states in the country (New Mexico ranked #6). And in late August, Environment New Mexico held a solar celebration picnic with their members and supporters.

With the net-metering policy defended against PNM, Environment New Mexico is now looking to pass a solar goal with the Albuquerque City Council this year.

Updated Report Ranks This Year's Top Solar States

Last Thursday in 20 states, Environment America released the third annual “Lighting the Way” solar report. The report ranks states by solar per capita and solar growth. 

Hawaii, Arizona and Nevada are leading the pack, with more states close behind. Did you state make the cut? Read the full report here to find out.

A diverse group joined us at our report releases across the country, including the governors of Hawaii and Delaware, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, state and local officials, solar business owners, school children, environmental justice advocates and solar energy consumers.

ConnPIRG And Sen. Blumenthal Take On Faulty Car Sales

CarMax is selling unsafe, recalled auto parts in some of their used vehicles in Connecticut, a new report by ConnPIRG and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation (CARS) found this week. ConnPIRG joined Sen. Richard Blumenthal and CARS Foundation on Aug. 25 to release "CarMax: Endangering Lives in Connecticut," which documents the extent of the problem posed to consumers and calls for action at the state and federal level to protect the lives of drivers.

70+ Organizers Participate In 3-Day Global Warming Blitz

More than 70 Impact organizers, PIRG fellows and state organizers participated in a three-day blitz to build support for the Clean Power Plan.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan -- its proposal to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants 30 percent by 2030. Despite broad public support, polluters and their allies in Congress have been working to block the rule, and Congress can pass bills that stop the EPA from acting.

It is possible that we will see an attack on the Clean Power Plan that will pass both houses and that we will need President Obama to veto. Congress can override a veto with 2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate, which means we can uphold a veto by mustering 34 Senate votes or 146 House votes.

Colorado and Pennsylvania are ground zero in the battle between clean renewable energy and fossil fuels and Sens. Bennet (CO) and Casey (PA) are critical votes on this issue. Senator Bennet has been with us, so we wanted to thank him, and show him all the support in Colorado so that he continues to be a leader. Senator Casey is a swing who is leaning the right way, but who we need to focus on tipping over. 

In Colorado, 49 organizers and 9 trainers collected 507 business sign-ons with 173 secondary actions including posting signs in their window, making an activist call or doing a photo petition, 1,054 handwritten letters, 8 visibility events and 7 media hits, 703 photo petitions, 1,145 activist calls (we filled up his voicemail box in Denver and Grand Junction), and four district meetings.

In Pennsylvania, 11 organizers and two trainers collected 157 business sign-ons, 473 handwritten letters, and 236 petitions. 

Methane Restrictions An Important Band-Aid, But Not A Cure

Last Tuesday, the Obama administration proposed first-ever limits on methane from oil and gas -- the greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide. 

The rule is a major piece of the Obama administrations plan, announced in January, to cut methane pollution 40-45 percent in 10 years.

But of course no amount of methane control can make natural gas a good way to fight global warming. As Environment America's Anna Aurilio said in our news statement: "The best way to limit methane pollution is to limit drilling and fracking."

Environment California Testifies At CA Transportation Conference

On Wednesday, Environment California Clean Energy Advocate Michelle Kinman testified at the Asilomar Transportation Conference to push the state's policies even further to get cleaner cars on the road, clean up our air, and fight global warming. 

The conference was organized by the Energy and Alternative Fuels Committees and the Climate Change Task Force of the U.S. Transportation Research Board, and it was hosted by the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. According to the conference's website, this year’s conference focused on near- and medium-term policy and market strategies, and supporting innovation to reach climate, economic and mobility goals for transportation.

Environment California is also currently working on passing SB 350, a bill that would require the doubling of California's energy efficiency by 2030. This means that California would generate 50% of its energy from clean energy sources by 2040 and cut petroleum use in half by 2030. Just this past week, Environment California has held 53 lobby meetings and has testified in every committee the bill has been heard in.

WashPIRG Gives Textbook Tips

WashPIRG Director Bruce Speight went on KCPQ Fox 13 last week to give college students tips for saving money on textbooks. Watch the full segment here. 

The cost of textbooks has grown more than 80 percent in the past decade, making them one of the biggest expenses for college students. One of the best options for students is open textbooks, which are published under an open license, meaning they're free online, free to download, and affordable in print. 

Change Corps Partners With CoPIRG To Put Pressure On Subway

New Change Corps organizers partnered with CoPIRG this week during their practicum training to put pressure on Subway to stop using meat raised with the routine use of antibiotics.

PIRG Calls For Open Access To Federal Education Materials

This week, PIRG, along with a coalition of 91 education organizations, institutions of higher education, technology companies, and foundations called on the White House to ensure federally-funded educational materials are made freely available to the public as the administration develops an Open Government Partnership plan this fall.

“The administration has the power to unlock billions of dollars worth of educational materials – materials that can be used to strengthen workforce training programs and improve learning around the country,” said Ethan Senack, higher education advocate for PIRG. “It’s simple – these are taxpayer-funded materials and they should be available for the public to use.”

Clean Power Plan Unveiled

Gas and coal power plants will pollute 32 percent less and clean energy sources such as wind and solar will meet much more of the nation’s electricity needs, according to the much-awaited Clean Power Plan, which President Obama formally unveiled Aug. 3

"Today is a great day for clean energy and a great day for climate action. It's a great day for America, and our chance to lead to the world toward a strong agreement cut global warming pollution," said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America. 

The Clean Power Plan is the single biggest action our country has ever taken on climate, because it tackles the single biggest source of our global warming pollution: dirty power plants. The Clean Power Plan also represents a huge step toward a clean energy future, because it dramatically ramps up wind and solar power.

Leading up to the unveiling, we galvanized support for the Clean Power Plan this summer, having more than 100,000 conversations with Americans on the canvass, generating actions online, and organizing Day of Action events to call attention to the importance of the plan and urge elected leaders to show their support for it. 

U.S. PIRG Participates In ABX Meeting At The White House

On Tuesday, U.S. PIRG participated in a meeting on antibiotic overuse in food animals with Rep. Louise Slaughter at the White House. PIRG's Carli Jenson attended the event, along with representatives from NRDC, Keep Antibiotics Working and Pew Charitable Trusts. 

Meanwhile, our Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics campaign continues to ask Subway, the largest fast-food provider in the country, to commit to selling meat raised without antibiotics.

Gov. Cuomo Announces 300% Solar Growth In N.Y.

Environment New York Director Heather Leibowitz reports that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced solar growth of more than 300 percent from 2011 to 2014 in New York state. She issued the following statement:

"Less than two weeks ago, Gov. Cuomo announced his ambitious plan to curb New York state’s carbon emissions by 40 percent by doubling New York state’s renewable energy to 50 percent by 2030. The pollution reduction and clean energy targets would be the most ambitious in the nation, matched only by California.

"Today, the governor acknowledged the important role of solar energy in accomplishing these goals. We applaud the governor's continued commitment to expand this unlimited and pollution free energy source for the benefit of our environment and economy.

“This announcement also shows that Environment New York’s goal of achieving 20 percent solar energy by 2025 in New York State is readily achievable. At this rate, New York can easily reach 20 percent solar by 2025, which would cut as much carbon pollution as 3 million cars emit in a year and put the state more than halfway to the renewable energy benchmark set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan.

"Gov. Cuomo's acknowledgment of New York's progress in the area of solar energy and his statement of future commitment to expand solar is noteworthy. We urge the governor to continue to support solar energy growth through programs like net metering and community solar. Reforming the Energy Vision and the Clean Energy Fund are also key pieces of this plan."

BP's $18.7 Billion Tax Write-Off

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced an $18.7 billion out-of-court settlement with BP to resolve charges related to the Gulf Oil spill -- but failed to indicate whether the deal will allow the oil giant to write portions off as an ordinary tax deduction – thus, greatly reducing the public value of these payments.

“A judge had declared the oil spill was the result of gross negligence. It is outrageous for BP to treat any portion of these payments as an ordinary business expense. We call on the company to promise that it will not write these payments off as tax deductions,” said Phineas Baxandall, U.S. PIRG's senior analyst for tax and budget policy. “We also call on the Justice Department to make public the full language of the settlement on its website.”

100+ People Attend PennEnvironment's Climate Change Town Hall

PennEnvironment's Climate Defenders organized a town hall meeting outside of Philadelphia on June 30th to talk about climate change. More than 100 people attended the meeting. Speakers included Rep. Brendan Boyle, a nurse, an EPA representative, an environmental planner from the Montgomery County Planning Commission, and PennEnvironment's Adam Garber.

Environmental Action Helps Protect Black Bears

In our effort to save the Florida black bears, in just one month, we gathered 36,000 petition signatures, raised and donated $5,000 for bear-proof containers and public education, and generated 400 calls to Gov. Rick Scott. Check out Environmental Action’s Anthony Rogers-Wright's presentation at the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission hearing in Jacksonville.

Environment New Mexico shines a light on state's bright future with solar power

Environment New Mexico released a report on June 25 showing that the rewards of solar are greater than the costs. Attorney General Hector Balderas, Sen. Mimi Stewart, Positive Energy Solar, and our partners joined Environment New Mexico's Sanders Moore and Fund for the Public Interest canvassers for this event. Check out our report here. 

Trucks And Buses To Be More Efficient

On Friday, the Obama administration proposed a new emission-cutting standard for trucks and buses. This is the president's latest move to curb pollution fueling global warming.  

Following the announcement, Global Warming State Campaign Director Travis Madsen was quoted in Newsweek, NBC Philadelphia, and NGT News commenting on the new proposal:

“Anyone who’s ever been stuck behind a truck or bus knows how much they pollute,” said Madsen. ”Today’s action will mean cleaner air and help tackle the climate crisis. Making trucks go farther on a gallon of fuel can curb pollution, help save the planet and save money.”

Passenger cars and trucks remain the largest source of pollution within the transportation sector, and the Obama administration has already required them to go farther on a gallon of gas. That move--which made a host of ever-more efficient autos available to consumers--will save Americans roughly $31 billion annually at the gas pump, and cut pollution equivalent to shutting down more than two dozen coal-fired power plants.

Similarly, advocates have called for a 40 percent efficiency improvement for heavy trucks compared to 2010, which could save semi truck operators $30,000 per year on fuel, reducing freight costs and helping to lower the price of consumer goods. While Environment America and its allies are still reviewing the rule issued today, it appears to be very close to the 40 percent target.

City Transparency Victory In Portland

Last Friday, the City of Portland took a step to improve their ’D-‘ grade for transparency by publishing a searchable database showing where taxpayer funds are going. This was a project that came out of a report OSPIRG released in 2013 where we graded major cities for the transparency of their spending. Here's an article from Oregon Live highlighting the action. 

Following Data Breach U.S. PIRG Releases Tips

On Friday, we learned that the hack against the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was worse than originally reported, and that the personal data for 9 to 14 million federal employees, including those with national security clearances, has been compromised.

The breach may have exposed sensitive background information of current, former, and prospective federal employees. This information included Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and addresses of workers. 

As Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski reminds us in a recent blog post: If you shop with credit or debit cards, have health insurance (recent breaches at Premera, Anthem and CareFirst, pay taxes (IRS breach), work for the federal government (OPM breach), or [fill in blank], you’re at risk of a data breach.

In response to the security breach U.S. PIRG released a list of tips to help consumers avoid, detect and deal with identity theft from a data breach -- from shredding documents containing personal information to disabling Bluetooth connections on devices when not in use. You can check out the tips here.