The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal
agencies to assess the environmental impacts of projects like highway
construction and federal land management applications before deciding whether
to approve them. In other words, NEPA provides necessary checks and balances as
project proposals move forward, and can help block the most
environmentally-damaging among them.
Recently, the Trump administration announced plans to “modernize” NEPA in ways that would significantly limit the law’s ability to incorporate public input into project reviews and to avoid climate impacts. If the changes are enacted, they will loosen requirements to consider longer-range, cumulative impacts of a project – like those contributing to, and stemming from, climate change.
Mass Audubon will be opposing this change with our environmental partners. A group of more than 140 members of congress, including most of Massachusetts’ delegation, has also voiced their opposition.
Let the Council know we need to be doing everything we can
right now to tighten greenhouse gas emission limits, not weaken them, and that effectively
removing climate impacts from the approval process is a short-sighted and
dangerous decision for our climate.
Losing Ground: Nature’s Value in a Changing Climate is the sixth edition in our series analyzing land use patterns in Massachusetts. It highlights the value of forests, farmlands, and wetlands for climate resilience and includes targeted local data. Explore the report >
Settlement Reached for Housatonic Cleanup
A recent settlement agreement with GE will enhance and expedite the removal of PCBs from the Housatonic River, a cleanup effort that dates back to the 1980s. Mass Audubon’s Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the river. Full story >
New Environmental Appointments Announced
Mass Audubon congratulates three new state environmental leaders—Patrick Woodcock, Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources; Jim Montgomery, Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation; and Shaun Santos, Colonel of the Environmental Police.
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.
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.
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.
You can help!
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
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.
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.
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.
In recent years, the transportation sector has surpassed power plants as the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the US. Learn more about this shift and how you can help curb emissions.
Our climate change program manager participated in a Project Drawdown conference this weekend, an opportunity to share resources and strategies for creating climate solutions. Not familiar with Project Drawdown? Learn all about it here.
Supporting Rural Communities
Rural areas of Massachusetts can face different challenges than the rest of the state, from declining populations to limited fiscal resources. To help address these issues, a state Commission created the Rural Policy Plan, on which Mass Audubon provided input.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is co-leading a lawsuit over federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) rollbacks. The ESA is needed more than ever in the face of climate change and habitat loss, and as Mass Audubon notes in the press release, reducing its protections now would be a big mistake.
The state is reviewing its Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target program, which provides financial incentives for solar energy projects. We submitted comments expressing strong support for solar energy, but recommending it be located away from ecologically- and socially-valuable land.
State Funding Awarded for Land Protection
The state has awarded $12.9 million in grants to protect land and natural resources, create and restore parks, and increase climate resilience. This funding will help communities conserve 1,191 acres of land.
This month, our Shaping the Future of Your Community Program welcomed Danica Warns to the team as our new Southeast Regional Coordinator. She’ll be working with communities throughout the Taunton River Watershed to guide targeted land conservation and smart, sustainable development in that region.
Danica joins us from New York City, where she worked with NYC Parks to protect and restore wetlands throughout the City’s five boroughs, with a focus on volunteer stewardship of natural areas. While there, she engaged community members in wetland restoration and maintenance, aquatic wildlife monitoring, and migratory fish and oyster restoration. Working in the realm of land conservation in NYC, Danica has learned to identify and appreciate the pockets of natural areas that exist in a large city, and the importance of protecting these highly valuable resources.
Danica’s educational background is in coastal ecology, having received both her Bachelor’s in Marine Science and Master’s in Marine Conservation and Policy from Stony Brook University. She is also trained in science communication, and environmental outreach and advocacy have always been a focus of her career. She has previously worked with an environmental non-profit in Belize to communicate their research and monitoring work, on a whale watching boat in Cape Cod to monitor whale populations and educate passengers about marine conservation, and in an aquarium to inform visitors about marine life.
With a passion for finding nature’s hidden gems scattered
across an overwhelmingly urban landscape, Danica’s mission is to introduce as
many people as possible to the natural world around them and empower them to conserve
and protect it. In her new role with Mass Audubon, she is most excited about
the opportunity to help communities and land planners identify and protect
local natural areas of importance and to continue to promote healthy coastal
watershed management that benefits both people and nature.