Category Archives: Advocacy

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.

Reducing Single-use Plastics Statewide

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.

Reducing the use of single-use plastic bags at grocery and clothing stores means there will be fewer of them to end up as litter in our neighborhoods and waterways. Photo credit: US EPA

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

House Committee on Rules Members

William C. Galvin
Chair
Daniel J. Hunt
Vice Chair
Louis L. Kafka Joseph F. Wagner
Ronald Mariano David M. Nangle
Paul J. Donato Patricia A. Haddad
Alice Hanlon Peisch Michael J. Moran
Sarah K. Peake Ann-Margaret Ferrante
Kimberly N. Ferguson 
(Ranking Minority)
David T. Vieira
Donald H. Wong

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – November 25, 2019

Give Thanks for Nature by Getting Outside

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!

Climate Central

Brookline votes to ban oil and gas pipes in new buildings.
→ Atmospheric greenhouse gas levels have reached another new high.
→ The European Investment Bank will stop funding fossil fuel projects.
→ Washington Post launches “Climate Solutions” coverage.

Measuring Success for CPA

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.

Help Massachusetts Reach Net Zero

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 .

Massachusetts must continue to lead on climate action, and this bill, which complements our other priority climate legislation, will help make sure we do just that.

Help Protect Pollinators

Our priority bill to protect pollinator habitat in Massachusetts is up for a State House hearing this week!

Monarch butterfly (photo credit: USFWS)

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.

You can help this bill pass!

If your state legislator is on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee, ask them to quickly and favorably pass S.497/H.818 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 this legislation would set Massachusetts on the right path to a sustainable future for the pollinator species on which we rely for so much, from crops to ecosystem health.

Interested in other ways to help pollinators? Here are some ideas.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – November 11, 2019

Rallying Together for Climate Funding

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.

Climate Central

→ The Boston Globe looks to experts, including our climate change program manager, on coping with climate grief.
Massachusetts leaders speak out against Trump’s Paris agreement withdrawal.
→ AG Healey sues Exxon Mobil for deceitful climate ads.
→ Mass Audubon’s Cape and Islands Youth Climate Action Summit drew more than 100 teen activists.

Monitoring for Migrating Whales

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.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – November 4, 2019

The Value of Forests in a Changing Climate

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.

Climate Central

→ Amazon countries signed a forest pact to coordinate disaster response.
→ Former EPA Director Gina McCarthy gave some important advice to journalists covering climate change.
→ Can a wave of new technology slash natural gas leaks by detecting methane?

More Progress for Offshore Wind

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.