The Trump administration is rolling back enforcement of environmental regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, essentially ceasing to hold companies accountable for pollution until further notice. Mass Audubon and other environmental groups spoke out about this decision to The Boston Globe.
Supporting River and Wetland Health
Earlier this month, the state Division of Ecological Restoration announced new funding awarded to projects that will remove aging dams, restore floodplain habitat, and improve resilience to climate change. Mass Audubon’s Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary is among the recipients.
Funding Opportunity to Improve Water Quality
MassDEP is holding an informational call on April 8 about their 604(b) grant program, ahead of issuing their Request for Responses later this month. Potential grant applicants are encouraged to participate in the call to discuss new project ideas.
Although Mass Audubon’s sanctuaries are currently closed due to the stay-at-home advisory, we have citizen science projects and activities for kids you can do closer to home. Stay tuned for more ways to take action and support your community during these challenging times.
Update from the State House
As we’ve all been adjusting to our new normal over the past few weeks, activity at the State House has redirected—but it hasn’t stopped. Here’s a quick recap on what’s been happening, from COVID-19 relief to old growth forest protections.
→ The state Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program is holding April webinars on how to apply for funding.
Speaking Up for Environmental Protections
Mass Audubon recently joined with our conservation partners to oppose two damaging changes to federal environmental laws—loosening enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and proposed “updates” to the National Environmental Policy Act that violate the law’s intent.
Free Technical Assistance Opportunity
The Southeast New England (SNEP) Network is offering communities in that region the opportunity to apply for free technical and training assistance for stormwater management and ecological restoration. Mass Audubon is a SNEP Network partner. Learn more & apply >
Mass Audubon has three new staff members helping us advance climate action! Welcome to Danielle Perry, Climate Change Adaptation Ecologist; Nia Keith, Climate Change Education Manager; and Rishya Narayanan, Climate Change Communications Manager.
Supporting Cleaner Transportation
Massachusetts is participating in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a regional partnership to reduce emissions and invest in sustainable transportation. We weighed in during TCI’s public comment period (more on our support for TCI here).
One Step Closer to Net Zero
The state has released a draft letter to officially set a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2050. This release starts a month-long public comment period on how to reach that goal, and aligns with a series of public meetings held around the state.
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.
Reminder: Make Sure You’re Registered for the Primary
The registration deadline is February 12 to be eligible to vote or change party status for the Massachusetts primary election. If you’ll be out of state or unavailable on March 3 the day of the primary, absentee ballots and early voting are available.
Thanks to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Katie Theoharides for attending a meet and greet with Mass Audubon members last week in Arlington, where she spoke about the state’s 2020 environmental and climate change agenda.
Weighing in on Water Protection
Mass Audubon opposed a recent federal decision to remove protections for a large percentage of US streams and wetlands. Our director of advocacy spoke with WBUR about these changes and their potential implications.
Latest Local Climate Funding Announced
The next round of funding through the state Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program will provide $11.6 million in grants to communities to develop resilience strategies and adapt to climate change. 82% of Massachusetts cities and towns are now enrolled in MVP.
State Budget Process Begins
Governor Baker has released his FY21 state budget, and we’ll be advocating for full funding on Green Budget priorities like the Division of Ecological Restoration. We’ll also seek support for the Blue Hills Trailside Museum, which Mass Audubon manages for the state.
Poll of the Week
A new MassInc poll finds the majority of Massachusetts residents think they’ll need to make at least moderate changes to how they live in order to address climate change.
Last week, the Massachusetts state Senate approved legislation to move us forward on climate action. An Act setting next-generation climate policy (S.2477) calls for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – a more ambitious goal than the current state target.
This newly introduced, fast-moving bill is a top Mass
Audubon legislative priority, and would advance our organization’s Climate
Action Plan. It was among three climate-related bills to pass, the other two of
which address energy
efficiency and electric
and net-zero vehicle programs.
Currently, thanks to the Global Warming Solutions Act passed in 2008, Massachusetts is required
to reduce its emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, with an interim goal
of 25% below 1990 levels by 2020.
The new Next Generation bill ramps up those goals to achieve net-zero emissions for our state by 2050. It would set interim targets every five years, and would require a market-based, carbon-pricing mechanism for the transportation, commercial building, and residential sectors.
Mass Audubon, with our partners at The Nature Conservancy
and The Trustees, helped ensure an amendment was included to recognize the
importance of carbon sequestration by natural and working lands towards meeting
emissions reductions goals. If the bill passes, this would mark the first time in
Massachusetts this type of recognition would be given in emissions regulations.
The bills will now move on to the House, where we will work to amend it further to include industrial scale offshore wind – an important clean energy component for achieving emissions targets. Stay tuned for opportunities to help these Next Generation policies succeed!
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 transportation sector is responsible for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions statewide. To help address the problem at its source, Massachusetts joined a regional initiative to reduce emissions and invest in sustainable transportation. You can help it succeed >
A new poll found that 58% of American respondents consider themselves either “alarmed” or “concerned” about climate change—an all-time high, and an alarmed percentage that’s nearly triple what it was five years ago.
Webinar: Adopting CPA in Your Community
Our Community Preservation Act (CPA) has recently heard from many communities that are curious about adopting CPA. So we’re offering a free webinar on Thursday, January 30, at 12:00 pm to share CPA basics and how to adopt it locally! Get the details & register >
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.