|Margie Alt, Ana Aurilio|
Environment America is a federation of liberal state-based environmental advocacy organizations in the United States. The organization researches and advocates for environmental policies through lobbying and the mobilization of public support. Environment America advocates new laws and policies to address climate change, and is a proponent of clean energy. It opposes offshore drilling.
On November 5, 2007, Environment America separated from the state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG) and announced its intent to take control of the organization's national environmental advocacy program. The federation combined several small, state-based advocacy groups that had separated from the U.S. PIRGs earlier in the year. As a result of the separation of the organizations, the PIRGs’ scope of work was defined as consumer and social justice issues while Environment America became responsible for the group’s previous environmental work.
Environment America works to publicize and ameliorate controversial environmental challenges in the United States. Their areas of interest include the use of renewable energy sources, climate change, water pollution, air pollution, fossil fuel dependency, environmental conservation, and offshore drilling. The organization's Research and Policy Center educates the public on the country's environmental conditions by releasing reports on topics such as wind energy policy, the presence of mercury in contaminated fish, companies’ compliance to the Clean Water Act, energy efficient buildings, extreme weather in the U.S., precipitation rates, fuel efficient cars, and levels of carcinogens in waterways.
The organization has sought to influence the nation's environmental stance through politics. Environment America publishes an annual scorecard of members of the U.S. Congress based on how they voted on environmental issues in that year's session. Members of the Democratic Party typically score higher than members of the Republican Party on the scorecard. In 2009, Environment America reviewed more than 100 environmental policies adopted by states in previous years. The organization has endorsed candidates during national elections. In 2008 and 2012, they joined the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and Clean Water Action in endorsing Barack Obama’s reelection to office.
Besides supporting political candidates, Environment America and the Sierra Club have worked together on various environmental efforts in order to further their similar missions. These joint efforts include moving forward the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act in 2007, opposing amendments to the Climate Security Act in 2008, supporting the EPA's proposal for a fuel economy label, supporting the National Ocean Policy in 2010, and opposing the bill H.R. 850, and the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011.
Environment California has supported environmental campaigns within California including statewide bans on plastic bags, the reduction of energy inefficient appliances, and the expansion of the state's solar metering program and solar energy production. The advocacy group has also worked to reform California’s renewable energy policies. Environment California supported a law that Governor Jerry Brown signed in 2011 which mandated that 33% of the state's energy must come from renewable sources by 2020, an increase from the previous requirement of 20%.
Environment California released reports on the energy consumption of public schools, solar projects on school campuses, Californian cities' solar power production, "green job" training programs within the state, and the costs of fossil fuels. In 2010, Environment California helped sponsor a cash rebate program that encouraged residents to install solar water heaters in their homes.
In 2009, Environment Texas and the Sierra Club filed similar lawsuits against Chevron Phillips for alleged violations of pollution limits and the Shell Oil Company for alleged illegal air pollution emissions. Shell Oil Company agreed to pay a $5.8 million settlement, reduce emissions from its Deer Park refinery by 80%, upgrade chemical units, and reduce gas flaring. The following year, the environmental groups sued the largest oil refinery in the United States, Exxon Mobil, accusing it of violating the Clean Air Act through the release of emissions from refineries and chemical plants in the Texas Gulf coast.
PennEnvironment has released several reports that analyze environmental concerns in Pennsylvania including counties' recycling fees, the dumping of toxic chemicals by industrial facilities into the state’s waterways, and the building of roads and logging in the Allegheny National Forrest. Another report released by the state affiliate found that power plants fueled by coal in the state release large amounts of pollution that contribute to unhealthy smog and put susceptible populations at risk. In 2011, PennEnvironment condemned the government's decision to reject stricter air pollution regulations that would diminish ground-level ozone, the main component of harmful smog.
In 2012, PennEnvironment, along with the Sierra Club, sued PPG Industries for the contamination of lagoons and a solid waste landfill at the company's Ford City site near the Allegheny River which resulted from the disposal of glass polishing waste. Chemical testing revealed high levels of arsenic, lead, antimony, iron and chromium at the site. The environmental groups claimed that the company violated the Clean Water Act and Resources Conservation and Recovery Act and failed to follow an administrative order issued by the DEP under the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law to clean up the site in 2009.
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