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.
A Regional Approach to Water Resource Improvements
Thanks to a new EPA grant, our Shaping the Future of Your Community program will help form a Technical Assistance Network supporting EPA’s Southeast New England Program for Coastal Watershed Restoration. This project is led by University of Southern Maine’s New England Environmental Finance Center.
Keeping Clean Water Decisions Local
Mass Audubon and our partners have opposed damaging changes to the Clean Water Act. The letter, organized by the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, states our concerns that the federally-proposed changes would restrict the ability of states and tribes to manage their 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.
Mass Audubon is an event partner and speaker at this month’s Offshore WINDPOWER Conference in Boston. Momentum for offshore wind in the US is building, and this year’s event will feature sessions on ensuring its long-term success and reducing costs.
Sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association, this conference is the largest gathering of offshore wind energy professionals in the United States. This year’s conference is October 22-23. Interested in attending? Register today!
According to the first comprehensive review of bird population trends in decades, 29% of US birds have disappeared since 1970. Learn more about the issue and some Mass Audubon programs you can support to be part of the solution.
The Value of Nature in Narragansett Bay
This new report and website explore the $14 billion value of nature-based economic sectors in the Narragansett Bay Watershed. Mass Audubon partnered with the University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute and others on this project, which aims to inform future decision-making in the region.
The state has announced $8 million in funding for the latest round of Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program grants. This funding will help communities plan for climate impacts and implement priority adaptation projects. Learn more about MVP and how to apply for this funding.
Are You a Community Preservation Leader?
Our Community Preservation Coalition Steering Committee is expanding! As the CPA program has grown over the years, the Steering Committee hopes to grow along with it by including wide-ranging representation from member communities. Learn more.