One More Chance to Defend Migratory Birds

The 100-year old federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is one of our first environmental statutes, and makes it illegal to hunt, trap, kill, or possess nearly 1,000 avian species. Despite providing crucial protections, the law has been under attack since 2017.

Now, the Trump administration has taken the next step in codifying damaging changes to the MBTA into law by filing their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

When birds die through activities like energy extraction, the MBTA helps hold companies responsible, and is a strong incentive to avoid such impacts in the first place. If the proposed change becomes law, incidental, as opposed to deliberate, bird deaths resulting from these activities – for example, birds killed in oil spills – will no longer result in prosecution.

The Northern Saw-whet owl is one of hundreds of species protected by MBTA. Photo credit: Bri Rudinsky/USFWS

You can help fight this change.

A group of national conservation organizations are suing the Department of Interior over changes to the law, and there’s still time to voice our opposition through the public review process.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting public comments on this proposed change through March 19. You can submit your own comments to voice your opposition to these protection rollbacks.  

Let USFWS know birds are already in serious trouble, due to factors like habitat loss and climate change, and that it’s unacceptable to stop holding companies responsible for bird deaths at a time when 76% of all bird species in the US are declining.

Thank you for speaking up!

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – February 10, 2020

Reminder: Make Sure You’re Registered for the Primary

The registration deadline is February 12 to be eligible to vote or change party status for the Massachusetts primary election. If you’ll be out of state or unavailable on March 3 the day of the primary, absentee ballots and early voting are available.

Climate Central

→ Climate change is shrinking winter snow in the South
→ Local legislators spar with Trump administration over Vineyard Wind review
→ Why Finland leads the field for winter cycling
→ When climate change becomes a credit problem

Learning from Environmental Leaders

Thanks to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Katie Theoharides for attending a meet and greet with Mass Audubon members last week in Arlington, where she spoke about the state’s 2020 environmental and climate change agenda.

Weighing in on Water Protection

Mass Audubon opposed a recent federal decision to remove protections for a large percentage of US streams and wetlands. Our director of advocacy spoke with WBUR about these changes and their potential implications.

Latest Local Climate Funding Announced

The next round of funding through the state Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program will provide $11.6 million in grants to communities to develop resilience strategies and adapt to climate change. 82% of Massachusetts cities and towns are now enrolled in MVP.

State Budget Process Begins

Governor Baker has released his FY21 state budget, and we’ll be advocating for full funding on Green Budget priorities like the Division of Ecological Restoration. We’ll also seek support for the Blue Hills Trailside Museum, which Mass Audubon manages for the state.

Poll of the Week

A new MassInc poll finds the majority of Massachusetts residents think they’ll need to make at least moderate changes to how they live in order to address climate change.

New Climate Legislation Passes the State Senate

Last week, the Massachusetts state Senate approved legislation to move us forward on climate action. An Act setting next-generation climate policy (S.2477) calls for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – a more ambitious goal than the current state target.

This newly introduced, fast-moving bill is a top Mass Audubon legislative priority, and would advance our organization’s Climate Action Plan. It was among three climate-related bills to pass, the other two of which address energy efficiency and electric and net-zero vehicle programs.

Participants in the Youth Climate Strike calling for action at the State House this past September

Currently, thanks to the Global Warming Solutions Act passed in 2008, Massachusetts is required to reduce its emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, with an interim goal of 25% below 1990 levels by 2020.

The new Next Generation bill ramps up those goals to achieve net-zero emissions for our state by 2050. It would set interim targets every five years, and would require a market-based, carbon-pricing mechanism for the transportation, commercial building, and residential sectors.

Mass Audubon, with our partners at The Nature Conservancy and The Trustees, helped ensure an amendment was included to recognize the importance of carbon sequestration by natural and working lands towards meeting emissions reductions goals. If the bill passes, this would mark the first time in Massachusetts this type of recognition would be given in emissions regulations.

The bills will now move on to the House, where we will work to amend it further to include industrial scale offshore wind – an important clean energy component for achieving emissions targets. Stay tuned for opportunities to help these Next Generation policies succeed!

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – January 27, 2020

Another Look at Cars and Carbon

This Op Ed from Mass Audubon’s advocacy director takes a deeper look at the Transportation and Climate Initiative. You can still support this regional effort to reduce carbon pollution from cars and trucks.

Climate Central

→ Governor Baker commits to making Massachusetts net-zero by 2050
→ The state has updated its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, and is on track to meet its 2025 goal
→ New Yale report finds climate change will be a voting issue

Climate Bills up for State House Debate

This week, a package of new climate change bills will be debated in the state Senate, an effort that also aligns with the state’s net-zero by 2050 goal. We support these proposals, and encourage the inclusion of offshore wind to achieve their goals.

Protecting US Waters

Last week, the Trump administration finalized a rule to remove federal protections for a large percentage of US streams and wetlands. We opposed this environmentally-damaging change when it was first proposed, and several states including Massachusetts are expected to file lawsuits.

Share Your Thoughts on Mosquito Spraying

Last year, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) occurred across a record portion of Massachusetts, resulting in a high volume of aerial pesticide spraying by the state. Mass Audubon and the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance are collecting input from watershed and environmental groups to share with the Department of Public Health.

Help #FundLWCF

The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) helps protect invaluable wild spaces across Massachusetts and the United States. Although LWCF was permanently reauthorized last year, its annual funding is still not guaranteed.

Mass Audubon is a member of the LWCF Coalition, and we hope to see federal legislation pass this session to secure that annual funding.

The Cape Cod Nationaoeashore is protected in part thanks to LWCF funding. Photo credit: Karen Regan, National Park Service

You can help!

The Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act (HR 3195) is awaiting action in Congress, and 172 Representatives sent a letter last week to House leadership urging them to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Most of Massachusetts’ delegation (except for Reps. Clark and Keating) signed on to the letter – please take a minute to thank your Representative for their support if they’re on the list, particularly Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, who co-led the letter.

Thank you for helping #FundLWCF!

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – January 21, 2020

Tackling Transportation Emissions

The transportation sector is responsible for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions statewide. To help address the problem at its source, Massachusetts joined a regional initiative to reduce emissions and invest in sustainable transportation. You can help it succeed >

Climate Central

→ Warming oceans force Leatherback sea turtles on longer journeys
→ US clean energy investment hits new record despite lack of federal support
→ 2019 capped the world’s hottest decade in recorded history
→ Meet Australia’s all-female Indigenous fire crew

Americans Waking up to Climate Reality

A new poll found that 58% of American respondents consider themselves either “alarmed” or “concerned” about climate change—an all-time high, and an alarmed percentage that’s nearly triple what it was five years ago.

Webinar: Adopting CPA in Your Community

Our Community Preservation Act (CPA) has recently heard from many communities that are curious about adopting CPA. So we’re offering a free webinar on Thursday, January 30, at 12:00 pm to share CPA basics and how to adopt it locally! Get the details & register >

Restoring Federal Protections for Birds

Last year the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which makes it illegal to hunt, trap, and kill nearly 1,000 avian species, came under attack. The US Department of the Interior (DOI) decided “incidental,” as opposed to “intentional,” bird deaths resulting from commercial activities – for example, birds killed in oil spills – would no longer result in prosecution. This change effectively removes accountability over such deaths, since there is no incentive for companies to take measures to avoid them.

The Little Blue Heron is one of the hundreds of species protected under MBTA. Photo credit: Bill Buchanan/USFWS

Fortunately, federal legislation has now been introduced to restore these protections. The Migratory Bird Protection Act (H.R. 5552) would amend the MBTA to once again include and regulate incidental bird deaths.

You can help this bill succeed!

Please contact your US Representative to ask them to co-sponsor H.R.5552. Let them know that the MBTA is one of our country’s best protections for bird species, and that we need these protections now more than ever, since birds are disappearing at an alarming rate and are further threatened by climate change.

No Massachusetts members of Congress have signed on yet as co-sponsors – let’s change that today!

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – December 23, 2019

Creating New Climate Policies

Last week Mass Audubon had an opportunity to weigh in on and help draft new climate change legislation that will be introduced in 2020. We testified with environmental partners before the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, and highlighted the sense of urgency for state lawmakers to act boldly.

New Transportation Framework Released

The Transportation Climate Initiative, a bipartisan group of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states including Massachusetts, has released a proposal for a regional emissions reduction program within the transportation sector.

Boston Passes New Wetland Protections…

Boston City Council has adopted a new provision to protect wetlands and boost climate resilience. This decision allows for more green infrastructure in new development, protection of urban natural resource areas, and a focus on climate justice. We weighed in on this last year.

…and Resilience Requirements

The City’s Public Improvement Commission, which manages Boston’s public spaces like streets, sidewalks, and bridges, has approved a new Policy for Climate Resilience. The Policy will require future projects to more fully consider climate change impacts like sea level rise and storm surge flooding.

News from our CPA Coalition

After some delays by the state legislature in finalizing their spending plan for surplus FY19 state revenue, there was good news recently for Community Preservation Act funding – $20 million of the final spending plan is expected to go to CPA communities.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – December 16, 2019

Support Affordable Clean Energy

New England’s energy system is more expensive and more polluting than it should be, but Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is helping empower electricity users to advocate for a cleaner energy system in New England. Learn more and add your voice.

Climate Central

→ COP25 climate talks end with few commitments.
→ Cambridge development focuses on affordable housing and climate change.
→ Climate tipping points are closer than we think.
→ A look at the legality of natural gas bans.

New Zero Net Carbon Requirement for Boston

Good news – Mayor Marty Walsh signed an executive order last week requiring all new municipal building construction to meet a Zero Net Carbon standard. This means every new City-owned building will have to be low-energy and fossil fuel-free.

Supporting State Adaptation Funding

Mass Audubon and members of our Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Coalition provided testimony supporting the “Greenworks” bill, which would improve climate adaptation and resiliency policy and funding. We also suggested changes to strengthen the bill.

Opposing Offshore Drilling Changes

With conservation partners, we opposed a change to the federal Coastal and Great Lakes Communities Enhancement Act that put wildlife at risk. The amendment would have facilitated dangerous offshore oil drilling, harming marine mammals in the process – and fortunately, was later defeated.

Help Improve Mosquito Messaging

The state Department of Agricultural Resources is seeking feedback on their communication about mosquitoes and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) from this summer and fall. This input will help improve outreach next season.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – December 9, 2019

Reducing Single-use Plastic Statewide

Last month, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill that would ban single-use plastic bags statewide. Now, the House has referred that bill to its Committee on Rules, and you can help it progress from there. Learn more

Climate Central

→ Youth marched for climate action again last week.
→ Congress commits to act on climate crisis despite Trump Administration.
→ Here’s a helpful summary of the COP25 conference goals.
→ Portugal may hold the secret to living with mega-fires.

Recognizing River Heroes

Our advocacy director Jack Clarke has been recognized by the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance as a “River Advocate.” Also honored were Steve Long of The Nature Conservancy, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Vandana Rao of the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

We’re Hiring!

Mass Audubon is seeking dynamic candidates for four new positions that will help us advance our response to the threats and impacts of climate change. Learn more about these jobs, the fields of focus for which are: education, ecology, communications, and development.