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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Across Massachusetts, 120 communities have passed laws reducing or banning single-use plastic bags. It’s estimated that over 100 billion plastic shopping bags are consumed in the US each year, and these bags, often only used a single time, serve as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and litter.
These single-use bags pose a threat to sea turtles, whales, and other marine animals that can die from eating plastic bags they mistake for food. Because they are made from polyethylene, which is made from crude oil and natural gas, plastic bags also deplete nonrenewable resources. It’s time for Massachusetts to take action at the statewide level to limit single-use plastic bags, and to provide consistency for businesses and consumers.
Last month, the Massachusetts Senate passed An act relative to plastic bag reduction (S.2422), which would ban single-use plastic bags statewide, with some exceptions. It would instead require most stores to provide recycled paper or reusable bags. Now, the Massachusetts House has referred the bill to its Committee on Rules.
You can help this bill pass!
If your state legislator is on the House Committee on Rules, ask them to quickly and favorably pass S.2422 out of committee. Even if your legislator isn’t on the committee, you can ask them to urge the committee to support the bill.
Let them know that single-use plastic bags are unsustainable, and that more than one third of Massachusetts communities have already made the decision to stop using them. It’s time to take this action statewide
Instead of heading to the mall this Black Friday, consider heading outdoors! Mass Audubon sanctuaries are offering a wide range of programs through the weekend, from hiking to wreath making. Sign up for one today!
Our Community Preservation Act (CPA) coalition recently updated its statistics on the program’s impact. One highlight? CPA has helped Massachusetts cities and towns preserve 30,894 acres of open space. Learn more about CPA’s success.
State Water Supplies Back to Normal
After a rainy fall, Massachusetts drought levels have returned to normal conditions. This is good news, and continuing to be mindful of water use – reducing it where possible and fixing leaks – will make our water supplies more resilient. We’ll also keep supporting smart drought policies.
Federal Wetlands Protection Bill Moves Forward
Last week Congress passed a bill to reauthorize and secure annual funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which has funded over 2,950 projects and helped protect 30 million acres of habitat to date. The bill heads to the US Senate next.
Massachusetts has made great strides in the fight against
climate change, but we need to move even faster to avoid its worst impacts.
That’s why Mass Audubon supports H.3983, An Act to Create a 2050 Roadmap to a Clean and Thriving Commonwealth. This state legislation would update our emissions reduction targets, and requires the state to create a plan to reach net-zero by 2050, along with interim targets to keep us on track.
We’re working with our friends at the Environmental League of Massachusetts to get this bill reported out by the Committee on Ways and Means before the legislature goes on its November break, and you can help. You can use their call form, or you can contact your Representative yourself – just ask them to urge the Committee Chair to report the bill out favorably .
Pollinators like bees, butterflies, and bats are in trouble. Factors like
habitat loss, pesticide use, invasive species, disease, and climate change are
all to blame, and their impacts on pollinators also present a larger threat to biodiversity
and food supply.
An Act to Protect Pollinators would establish a commission to
investigate solutions that better protect and promote pollinators’ health. The
bill would require the commission to include individuals with expertise in the
protection of pollinators, wildlife protection and expertise in native plants.
We joined our Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions in advocating for Senate passage of An act relative to GreenWorks. This state legislation passed the House in July and would enhance climate mitigation and adaptation, foster more resilient communities, and drive economic growth.
With partners, we provided comments to the National Marine Fisheries Service on a proposed wind project off sections of the east coast. The area includes habitat for endangered whales and other marine mammals, and our comments focus on advancing offshore wind in a sustainable way for wildlife.
News on National Leadership
Congratulations to our friend and colleague Gina McCarthy on being selected as the next president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. A former EPA Administrator, Gina is a bold environmental leader and we look forward to working with her again.
Forests cover 60% of our state and play a crucial role in solving the climate crisis. Mass Audubon recently worked with other members of the Massachusetts Forest Forum to draft a statement about the need to prioritize forest conservation.
The 804-megawatt Mayflower Wind proposal has been selected as the next offshore wind project to move forward in Massachusetts. When combined with the already-approved Vineyard Wind proposal, the two projects would meet the state’s current 1600-megawatt goal for offshore wind power.
Maintaining Protections for Coastal Ecosystems
Mass Audubon signed on to a letter with our partners opposing state legislation to exempt coastal resiliency projects from critical environmental protections. As currently written, the bill would negatively impact wetlands and other natural resources.