7 Surprising Environmental Victories For 2015

Undoubtedly we still have a long way to go in raising people’s awareness of the importance of preserving the environment, but 2015 has seen some awesome, and surprising, victories.

Here are just seven of them, and let’s start with the biggest one.

1. President Obama Issues His Formal Rejection Of The Keystone XL Pipeline

In one of the biggest victories for the environmental movement in years, President Obama finally said “No” to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in November. “Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security,” the president said. “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.” It took seven years of fighting, but Obama’s decision made a lot of activists very happy.


Photo Credit: thinkstock

2. Two Hundred Coal Plants Are Shut Down

In July, Alliant Energy agreed to phase out coal use at six of its plants in Iowa, marking the 200th coal plant to shut down in the United States. When the Sierra Club launched its Beyond Coal campaign in 2010, the goal was to retire one-third of coal-fired power plants in the U.S. by 2020. But the Club succeeded five years early. I don’t think anyone will miss the tons of carbon pollution that brought sickness and even death to so many people.


Photo Credit: Backbone Campaign

3.  Shell Abandons Drilling In The Arctic Ocean

In September, after nine years and a $7 billion investment, and in spite of having its permit approved this summer, Royal Dutch Shell decided to halt its drilling attempts and go home. Whether it was due to setbacks with their drill rigs, or falling oil prices, this was a major victory. Not much later, President Obama cancelled the next round of Arctic Ocean drilling leases.


Photo Credit: By Bureau of Land Management (Browns Canyon National Monument) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

4.  President Obama Designates Six New National Monuments (NM)

Throughout the last year, President Obama designated national monument status to six new areas: Browns Canyon NM in Colorado (seen above); Pullman NM in Chicago, Illinois; Honouliuli NM in Hawaii; Berryessa Snow Mountain in California; Waco Mammoth NM in Texas; and finally Basin and Range in Nevada.


Photo Credit: “Frog Lake” by Fredlyfish4 at the English language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frog_Lake.JPG#/media/File:Frog_Lake.JPG

5. Congress Names A New Wilderness Area

Nearly 275,000 acres in the Boulder White Clouds area of Idaho are now officially a wilderness area. And this means that, along with those six new national monuments, more than an extra one million acres of land are now protected for wildlife and for nature lovers. Thanks, Obama!


Photo Credit: Online Youtube Video

6.  Solenex Gas And Oil Lease On Sacred Ground Is Canceled

In November, the AP reported that the Interior Department plans to cancel an oil and gas drilling lease in the Badger – Two Medicine area, near Glacier National Park. The Blackfoot tribes of the U.S. and Canada consider the land sacred, and it is also one of the largest intact roadless areas in the nation, making it an important habitat for grizzly bears, wolverines and other wildlife. The lease was improperly sold more than three decades ago because guess what? – an environmental study did not consider the impact of drilling on the tribes. This is a horribly familiar story, so let’s celebrate this decision.


Photo Credit: Online Youtube Video

7. Climate Change Talks In Paris Reach An Agreement

Clearly, not everyone sees this as a victory, but it really is huge: negotiators from 195 nations managed to work out a climate change deal. It’s been a long time coming, but this agreement will incorporate each country’s carbon reduction goals. This is a vital turning point for the planet, and one that we must keep working on.

Let’s keep the good work going in 2016!


Mark Donners
Mark Donner1 years ago

Solenex the company that wants to drill in the Badger wilderness area, is protesting. Guess what Solenex and your sleaze attorney, the Blackfoot tribe has won, so frack off.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

2 years ago

thanks for sharing

2 years ago

nice article

faith v.
faith v2 years ago

Good news

Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei2 years ago

You see, David F.? Your last post is strong evidence that you don't even bother to work at crafting your brand of rightwing stupidity. As Brian F. says, you willingly ride in the pockets of your corporate masters, and so you let other people do your "thinking" for you.

Like the fake patriots with their American flag lapel pins, your fake allegiance to the free market has no substance at all -- you are merely a cheap trollop, used repeatedly at the whim and amusement of your oligarch masters. If you had ANY sense at all about capitalism, you would understand that Brian doesn't have to petition those countries to keep their oil in the ground. He can do it quite naturally via free-market economics, AS LONG AS THE COST OF THAT OIL CARRIES ITS TRUE/FULL ECONOMIC COST TO SOCIETY and is not artificially short-priced, as it is now for other socio-political-economic reasons.

A more evolved human would be embarrassed by the incessant under-performance you exhibit; but like any good member of the Club of Idiots, pure mindless ideological fealty poses no threat of intellectual embarrassment to you.

One wonders whether your father would be more embarrassed by your native stupidity or by your allegiance to neo-nazi-ism......I suppose one is directly related to the other, in any case.

Brian F.
Brian F2 years ago

David Why don't you travel to cities in China, India, and Mexico that are choking in smog, and go see the pollution in Nigeria and other countries caused by dirty oil. Oil will run out eventually anyway, so electric cars and busses will have to replace dirty gas cars. Norway has more electric cars per capita than any other country, so soon many other nations will have to be leaving dirty oil in the ground as Global Warming gets worse. Republicans like you are in the pockets of the dirty fossil fuel industry and the nefarious Koch brothers, which explains why you oppose clean renewable energy.

David F.
David F2 years ago

Brian, Why don't you petition Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China, Russia, Norway and Venezuela to leave their oil in the ground. I'm sure they would all say.......OK.

Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei2 years ago

.....and unlike Dan B., David F. doesn't even have to work at parroting his masters' partisan nonsense.

So David, an obedient G. Bush supporter, is now suddenly "worried" about political contributions from crony billionaires?? And, being himself an obedient FoxNews and Hate-media hound, he is suddenly worried about a media that deceives the masses??? Not to mention the current allegiance he claims to the crony billionaire and media-driven whore who is running for the [R] nomination!!!

Really???? That kind of direct obliviousness shows an innocent, natural stupidity. If one actually had to "work'" to craft that kind of deep delusion, he would choke on the toxic hypocrisy that filled the air....even if he himself were too stupid to understand it.

David and Dan -- the laughable Laurel and Hardy of today's [R] trolling circuit.

Brian F.
Brian F2 years ago

Dan B

Artic drilling was rejected because it is too dangerous as well as being expensive. We have no way of cleaning up an oil spill in the extreme environment, and even 30 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the pristine environment is severely damaged. We need to leave all dirty fossil fuels in the ground. We're continuing to pump dirty fossil fuels into our air, and destroying our environment. The Keystone pipeline was a horrible deal for the USA that only created temporary jobs, crossed Indian Tribal reservation land, appropriated Ranchland by eminent domain, threatened water aquifers, and the dirty oil wouldn't have been sold to us anyway. In addition the dirty tar sands oil contributed more to Global Warming than other oil, so it undermined our fight against Global Warming. Whether this dirty oil travels by truck, train, or pipeline, it must be stopped. It is not only economic reasons why the Artic and Keystone failed and were rejected.