Good Climate News

Good Climate News this Week: First U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Development is Online, Pollution Reduction Plans, a Single-Use Plastic Ban, and More!

Mar 18, 2024

Every Monday, we round up five of the best good climate news stories we’re celebrating. This week we cover the first commercial offshore wind energy development in the U.S. coming online, plans to tackle transportation emissions and invest in clean energy infrastructure, the protection of 4 million acres in Florida, and a single-use plastic ban in the EU.

1. First U.S. commercial-scale offshore wind project is online in New York

Offshore wind farm at the Port of Noshiro at sunset.
Credit: Ju Cha

South Fork Wind, the first commercial-scale offshore wind development in the U.S., is now complete and fully online.

The development, located off the coast of Montauk Point in New York, contains 12 turbines and can generate enough clean electricity to power over 70,000 homes and will eliminate more than 6 millions tons of emissions each year. It is one of several offshore wind developments planned across the country, including two more projects off the coast of New York that could together power more than 1 million homes.

“It’s great to be first, we want to make sure we’re not the last. That’s why we’re showing other states how it can be done, why we’re moving forward, on to other projects,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul on the announcement.

Source: KRON4, Heatmap

2. Biden-Harris administration releases plan to tackle transportation sector pollution

York Region launching its first electric buses from Newmarket Terminal.
Credit: York Region

The Biden-Harris administration released the National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy, a plan to expand charging infrastructure for zero-emissions medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and help accelerate their adoption.

Gas-powered medium- and heavy-duty vehicles contribute heavily to air pollution in communities near major roads and highways, which also tend to be communities of color and low wealth communities. National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi said of the new plan, “This is a big move to deliver environmental justice – 75% of heavy truck traffic travels on just 4% of our nation’s roads, jeopardizing the health of our most vulnerable communities.”

Deploying charging infrastructure for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles will help reduce the number of gas-powered vehicles on the road, contribute to better air quality, and improve public health in these communities.

Source: Department of Energy

3. Department of Energy to invest in clean energy infrastructure in coal communities 

Solar panels set in front of a blue sky in Maules Creek.
Credit: Kate Ausburn

The Department of Energy announced it will invest an additional $425 million to boost clean energy infrastructure in coal communities. This will be the second round of funding from the Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program, a part of President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law. The first round of funding for this program came in November and has leveraged over $6oo million in private investment and is expected to create more than 1,500 new clean energy jobs.

The funding will support clean energy manufacturing and supply chains and boost communities whose economy stands to be negatively impacted by the transition away from fossil fuels.

Source: Politico Pro

4. Interior Department protects 4 million acres in Florida

Looking toward the Myakka river in Florida.
Credit: Walter

The Department of the Interior has finalized protections for a massive conservation area in Florida which spans 4 million acres from the Everglades to the Gulf coast.

The conservation area provides critical habitat for 74 federally or state-protected threatened or endangered species including the Florida black bear, Florida panther, and Everglade sand snail, among others. The area is now off-limits for development and these new protections will advance the restoration of these habitats and improve water quality and outdoor recreation access for millions of Floridians.

Source: E&E, Department of the Interior

5. EU to ban many single-use plastics

Closeup of a mass of plastic waste in landfill.
Credit: Visual patterns

The EU will ban the use of some single-use plastic packaging as part of a historic deal aiming to reduce plastic waste in the bloc, which has seen a dramatic increase in waste from single-use plastics.

The provisional agreement, now pending formal adoption, establishes requirements for the safety, sustainability, and recyclability of packaging. It sets targets for minimum recycled content in packaging to be met by 2030 and 2040, and restricts the use of PFAS “forever chemicals” in food packaging, among other requirements.

Single-use plastics (such as fast-food containers, mini hotel toiletries, and fruit and vegetable packaging, among others) contribute heavily to global pollution, both through their production and use. This green packaging deal from the EU is an important step in the right direction toward reducing plastic pollution and addressing the climate crisis.

Source: Greenwire, Council of the EU

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