By Kylie Armo
Hello! My name is Kylie Armo. I am a Massachusetts native studying environmental geography at Colgate University. My dedication to my home state and my passion for sustainability led me to Mass Audubon, where I am interning for the summer within the Legislative Affairs office on Beacon Hill.
I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to gain first-hand insight into the intricate world of environmental policy, and am writing this blog to provide a glimpse into my personal experiences and observations at Mass Audubon.
Summer at the State House
Much of my time has been spent at the Massachusetts State House, a building full of history, political maneuverings, and marble floors. I’ve attended a variety of legislative sessions, seminars, and hearings at the State House. Fellow attendees at these events can include legislators, concerned interest groups, and interns preparing reports for their offices.
During these sessions I take rapid notes – not only is there a huge volume of existing and proposed environmental policy being discussed, but there is also a colossal usage of acronyms! State laws, programs, and permits are frequently abbreviated (for example, NPDES stands for National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, and GWSA stands for Global Warming Solutions Act), and it can be tricky to keep track unless I write them down.
We typically attend events relevant to Mass Audubon’s specific legislative priorities, which for the 2015-2016 session include climate change adaptation, renewable energy, and land conservation funding.
A key priority during my time here has been focused on climate change adaptation legislation. An Act providing for the establishment of a Comprehensive Adaptation Management Plan in response to climate change (CAMP) would require the Commonwealth to plan for the impacts of climate change by identifying impacts such as flooding and heatwaves, and taking action to protect public health, safety, and economic well-being.
In order to promote awareness and support for CAMP within the House and Senate, we delivered a document summarizing the bill and requesting co-sponsorship to all 200 Massachusetts legislators. I am happy to report that CAMP was attached as an amendment to a major energy bill that passed in the Senate, which is now off to conference committee where it will be reconciled with the House version.
Environmental Advocacy: A Team Effort
The majority of my experiences outside of the State House revolve around communication and collaboration with fellow environmental organizations and broader coalitions engaged on specific issues. Common interests in areas like renewable energy and climate adaption unite Mass Audubon with professionals from policy-makers to architects. I frequently listen in on meetings and conference calls held between these organizations, during which legislative intel and lobbying tactics are debated and discussed. Though every individual has unique perspectives and interests, it is inspiring to see a passion for the environment fuel cooperation, strategy development, and, ultimately, progress.
On that note of optimism, I will conclude my maiden blog post. I am greatly looking forward to the rest of my summer at Mass Audubon’s Legislative Affairs office, and will provide another update about my experiences soon!
Kylie Armo is Conservation Policy Intern, Summer 2016