From helping to protect oceans around the globe to advocating for historic new pension reform legislation in our home state of Pennsylvania, Pew worked in 2019 with a variety of organizations to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life.
The largest land conservation legislation passed by Congress in a decade protects more than 2 million acres of land and 676 miles of rivers and includes expansion of Death Valley National Park, which straddles the border between California and Nevada. A rare bipartisan success story, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act—named for the longtime conservationist lawmaker from Michigan—was overwhelmingly approved by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in March. The legislation came after research, public education, outreach, and administrative action amid growing public awareness about the value of our shared natural landscapes. The bill included six Pew priorities that resulted in protection of lands and waters in California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah.
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In September, the Pacific Fishery Management Council unanimously decided to authorize deep-set buoy gear for use by California’s swordfish fleet as an alternative to indiscriminate large-mesh drift gillnets, which are suspended near the surface and kill and injure more whales, dolphins, and porpoises on the U.S. West Coast than all other types of commercial fishing gear combined. Deep-set buoy gear is an innovative method that drops hooks deep into the water—as far down as 1,200 feet—to where swordfish typically feed, then uses a strike indicator to relay when a fish is on the line. This promotes catching mainly the targeted species—swordfish—and also allows for any bycatch to be released more quickly. The gear has undergone more than eight years of research and testing, and
Pew helped to fund its development.
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Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the proven most effective intervention for patients with opioid use disorder, combining any of three Food and Drug Administration-approved medicines with behavioral health therapy. But it isn’t always available due to a lack of qualified providers, limited funding, or available resources. Pew has been working to prioritize MAT and expand access to it across the country. Last January, after a Pew study showed just 46 percent of state-licensed drug treatment slots in Philadelphia offered MAT, the city announced all 80 residential drug treatment programs would offer the treatment within a year. Delaware and Louisiana, after working with Pew to assess how to better expand access to evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder, approved bills to increase the number of providers offering MAT, boost the medications’ availability in residential treatment facilities, and encourage correctional facilities to offer these medications as well.
After enduring multiple floods in recent years, including those from Hurricane Harvey which inundated Houston and its suburbs, Texas lawmakers and Governor Greg Abbott in June enacted new legislation making the Lone Star State a national leader in planning for future floods—and investment in how to mitigate them. Pew’s flood preparedness team and state fiscal health project helped build support for two key bills that require Texas policymakers to develop the state’s first flood plan, using watershed-based strategies, and to set aside $800 million for mitigation, which is almost three times the amount the federal government appropriated in 2019 for those efforts for the entire nation.
Made up of fjords, forests, wetlands, waters, and towering mountain peaks, Chile’s Kawésqar National Park and Kawésqar National Reserve are spread across southwestern Patagonia. In January, the Chilean government created these new protected areas, which total more than 13 million acres, furthering its reputation as a world leader in conservation. Pew, working with partners and local organizations, is seeking long-term protection of Patagonia, one of the world’s last largely intact natural areas.
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Pew research determined that only 53 percent of small- to mid-sized businesses offer a retirement plan. The analysis from Pew, which is studying the challenges and opportunities for increasing retirement saving, also showed that 37 percent of those small businesses cited cost as the reason. In July, the U.S. Department of Labor cited those findings when it issued a rule making it easier for small private-sector companies to band together and provide retirement plans to their workers. And in December, President Donald Trump signed legislation that says businesses no longer have to be in the same industry to band together in order to offer a retirement plan. Easing that restriction will allow larger plans available to all employers that proponents say will provide economies of scale and reduce administrative costs.
More than a dozen shark species at risk of extinction gained protections in August thanks to a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species vote that secured historic international trade restrictions. The safeguards cover 18 species of rays and sharks including makos, giant guitarfish, and wedgefish, all categorized as endangered or critically endangered due to population declines—some greater than 70 percent—caused by overfishing, inadequate management, and a lack of trade controls. Some experts estimate that up to 100 million sharks are killed each year—mainly for their fins, used in shark fin soup. Now any fins or meat traded internationally must come from sustainably managed fisheries that don’t harm the status of wild populations.
Pew has spent a decade working with stakeholders to bring attention to the plight of sharks and rays, grow momentum for protecting such commercially valuable marine life, and champion the stewardship of our global resources.
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Aniara: fragments of time and space is a theatrical choral work based on a science-fiction poem by Swedish Nobel laureate Harry Martinson that contemplates humans’ relationship to Earth and to one another. With support from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia’s Grammy Award-winning chamber choir The Crossing created the new work in collaboration with the Finnish theater group Klockriketeatern and composer Robert Maggio, a Pew arts fellow. After its premiere in Philadelphia in June, the production earned international acclaim with performances in the Netherlands and Finland.
Mexicans have declined to less than half of the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States, the Pew Research Center reported in June. Examining data through 2017, the center determined that 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants live in the U.S., including 4.9 million Mexicans. The decrease was the major factor driving down the overall population of unauthorized immigrants in the country, which in 2017 was 1.7 million below the peak of 12.2 million a decade earlier.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finalized a rule in September that requires all U.S. hospitals have an antibiotic stewardship program—a major step forward in the fight against superbugs. Stewardship programs help to slow the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and improve patient outcomes by ensuring that antibiotics are used only when necessary, and at the right dosage and duration. These programs promote the most effective treatment option for a given illness, which helps patients to recover as quickly as possible, and in doing so they help to reduce inappropriate antibiotics use, which contributes to the emergence of resistant bacteria. Pew, working with many stakeholders, has advocated for this rule since 2016.
More Americans view made-up news as a national problem than terrorism, illegal immigration, racism and sexism, according to a Pew Research Center survey released in June. Nearly 7 in 10 adults say made-up news and information affects Americans’ confidence in government institutions and about half say it is having a major impact on our confidence in each other.
A bird’s eye view showcases the waters of Shark Bay swirling along Western Australia’s coastline on the Indian Ocean. Here, at the westernmost point of the continent, vast seagrass beds provide refuge for the globally threatened marine animals that swim around the bay’s banks, peninsulas, and islands. In February 2019, the Western Australian Government announced a plan to create 12.5 million acres of new national parks on land and sea during the next five years—the largest commitment in the country’s history. With the support of local partners, Pew led the advocacy effort to protect the diverse range of habitats in the region and will remain involved as the parks are developed on the continent’s coast.