Good Climate News

Good Climate News This Week: NY Offshore Wind, EPA Grants to Clean Up Brownfields, USDA Rural Investments, and More!

May 23, 2024

Every week, we round up five of the best good climate news stories we’re celebrating. This week we cover a new offshore wind project approved in New York, new EPA grants to clean up “brownfields,” an end to new federal coal leases in the Powder River Basin, USDA investments in rural infrastructure, and clean energy job training offered by community colleges around the country.

1. New York offshore wind project gets green light

A construction boat near wind turbines in the ocean.
Credit: Empire Wind

Governor Kathy Hochul announced that Empire Wind 1, an offshore wind project that will generate enough clean energy to power 388,000 New York homes, has received final approval and may begin construction.

In addition to providing clean, affordable energy to New Yorkers once the development is complete, Empire Wind 1 will create hundreds of family-sustaining construction jobs in the short term. The launch of the Empire Wind 1 construction is an important milestone for the state toward achieving its goal of generating 9,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind by 2035.

In response to the news, LCV state affiliate New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe said, “The final approval for Empire Wind 1 is a key milestone for the offshore wind industry. This will allow Equinor to commence the construction phase, helping to deliver on the promise of union jobs, clean energy and clean air.”

Source: Office of Governor Kathy Hocul

2. EPA to invest $300 million to clean up “brownfields”

A view of a fenced off area where waste is dumped, known as a “brownfield.”
Credit: Jay Morrison, Flickr

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will invest $300 million in grants to boost partnerships to clean up and revitalize historically polluted and contaminated areas known as “brownfields.” Previous brownfield revitalization projects have turned once dangerous and polluted industrial areas into parks, hiking trails, and gardens.

This investment will help advance President Biden’s environmental justice goals. About 86% of the 200 communities that will benefit from the investment are communities of color or with low wealth which have historically experienced higher-than-average levels of pollution.

Source: Greenwire

3. Biden-Harris administration ends new federal coal leasing in Powder River Basin

A train running through the Powder River Basin coal production area.
Credit: Jerry Huddleston, Flickr

The Biden-Harris administration has decided to end new federal coal leasing in Montana and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, a region which currently produces 40% of American coal.

While the decision will have little impact on production or emissions in the short term, it is one step closer to ending coal production in the Powder River Basin and reducing emissions from burning coal in the future. Over time, the climate implications of the decision to end new federal coal leasing in this region could be significant. About half of all energy related emissions on federal lands in recent years have come from burning coal.

Source: Climatewire

4. Department of Agriculture announces investment in rural infrastructure

A rural town with small homes set far apart from one another in a flat landscape.
Credit: Bob Nichols, Flickr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the agency will invest $671 million in 47 projects to improve electricity reliability and access to clean water for rural communities in 23 states. The projects will create good-paying jobs and safer, healthier communities across the country.

In addition to this investment, the agency also announced the opening of $1 million in grants through the Rural Community Development Initiative for organizations to help the Puerto Rico Rural Partners Network communities access federal funding necessary to help the island recover from natural disasters.

Source: USDA

5. Community colleges offer training for clean energy jobs

Two students work on constructing a solar panel array.
Credit: NWTC, Flickr

Community colleges across the country are offering training programs to prepare students for clean energy jobs. Students are learning how to troubleshoot wind turbines and solar panels, modernize heating and cooling systems, work on electric vehicles, weatherize homes, and more.

Thanks to President Biden’s affordable clean energy plan, clean energy job opportunities are expanding rapidly. Many of these job opportunities don’t require a bachelor’s degree, making community colleges a great and affordable resource for those interested in clean energy jobs to complete their training. These training programs are growing the skilled workforce needed to build a clean energy future and achieve our climate and clean energy goals.

Source: AP

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