Mass Audubon is a Youth Climate Strike partner, and with the shift to a virtual format, Boston event organizers are asking students to share their climate stories. If you’re home with kids, are a student yourself, or want to spread the word, learn more!
→ Carbon emissions are down, but not for long → This new study highlights the importance of soils for climate change mitigation
State Leaders Speak out on Rollbacks
Massachusetts Senators Markey and Warren have both been speaking out strongly against the EPA’s rollbacks on pollution regulations. They both joined in a group letter urging EPA to halt the changes, then sent their own letter demanding more answers.
Impacts of COVID-19 on the State Budget
Given the economic impacts of COVID-19, significant changes are expected for Massachusetts’ FY21 state budget. We’re staying informed and are still advocating for environmental program funding, as many of our requests will lead to green jobs that will be needed once the pandemic ends.
As we all adjust to our new normal over these past few weeks during the COVID-19 crisis, activity at the State House has redirected, but hasn’t stopped. Here’s a quick recap on what’s been happening.
COVID-19 Relief Legislation
The Massachusetts state legislature has
introduced 26 different bills (and counting) to address the current pandemic. These
proposals range from creating a COVID-19 Quarantine Assistance Fund that to
assist residents who are unable to earn wages due to infection or quarantine,
to directing the department of revenue to send a $1,000 check to households who
meet certain income criteria.
So far, the only bill that has been signed into law is S.2599, Governor Baker’s bill that waives the one week waiting period for those qualifying for unemployment.
At the federal level, congress is also working on several proposed bills to address the pandemic. One has passed so far: TheFamilies First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) was signed into law by President Trump last week. Its components include:
Providing free COVID-19 testing to the public, with no copays or deductibles.
Requiring employers with 500 or fewer employees to provide two weeks paid sick leave to employees unable to work due to quarantine or for the care of someone with COVID-19 (and provide related tax credits to the employer)
Providing $1 billion in state grants to assist in unemployment claims
Increasing funding for SNAP and WIC nutrition benefit programs.
It is expected that the Massachusetts state budget
will be delayed, and that once it does go through, there will be reduced
spending across all sectors. We’ll still continue to push for our Green Budget
priorities, since state environmental office and programs continue to need all
the support they can get.
Old Growth Forest Protections
We were pleasantly
surprised to see our priority
legislation improving protections for old growth forests was reported
favorably out of committee last week. Now it awaits approval by the Senate
Committee on Ways and Means before it can head to the House and Senate floor
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.
Cities are especially vulnerable to the rising temperatures that come with climate change, thanks to factors like the heat island effect. Find out why and discover one simple thing you can do to help.
State Budget Success
Governor Baker signed the FY20 budget last week, which included funding for Mass Audubon’s Trailside Museum and a permanent increase for the CPA Trust Fund. Thanks to everyone who contacted their legislators and Governor Baker about supporting these programs!
Massachusetts is seeking Regional Coordinators for the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program. The positions will support communities through the MVP process and help them advance climate resilience projects. Think you’d be a good fit? Learn more & apply >
The FY20 state budget is headed to Governor Baker’s desk. Good news for climate change adaptation programs, Mass Audubon’s Trailside Museum, Green Budget priorities, and CPA—which all received the funding levels we recommended. Help ensure the final budget stays strong!
Last week we attended Governor Baker’s award ceremony for the town of Millbury’s MVP action grant-funded downtown greening project. Our Shaping the Future program helped the town develop the plan, and will be advising on later stages of the project.
The Massachusetts state legislature released their final FY20 state budget over the weekend following conference committee deliberations, and there’s good news for many of Mass Audubon’s priority programs, including our Blue Hills Trailside Museum:
Trailside received $500,000, the amount we requested and a $200,000 increase compared to FY19
A long-awaited deeds fee increase that would restore needed Community Preservation Act funding was upheld, and an additional $20 million was directed to the CPA Trust Fund
Our recommended funding levels were met or exceeded for several Green Budget line items and the Mass Cultural Council (see table below)
The conference committee also included $2.19 million for state climate change adaptation programs
Now the budget is on its way to Governor Baker’s desk for
final approval. He can still veto line item funding, so help make sure he knows
Massachusetts residents value these programs! You can email his office
and encourage him to pass a budget that upholds funding levels for these
Mass Audubon will be submitting our own request to the
Governor as well.
Action You Can Take This Week: Compost for the Climate
Did you know food waste makes up one-quarter of our state’s trash? That means biodegradable, plant-based materials are needlessly ending up in landfills and contributing to climate change. But there’s an easy fix – composting. Pledge to start today!Did you know food waste makes up one-quarter of our state’s trash? That means biodegradable, plant-based materials are needlessly ending up in landfills and contributing to climate change. But there’s an easy fix – composting. Pledge to start today!
A curated selection of climate news from Mass Audubon’s climate change program manager
Our advocacy director Jack Clarke has been reappointed by Governor Baker to the Massachusetts Ocean Advisory Commission. The Commission provides guidance on implementation of the state Ocean Management Plan, along with other ocean management issues.
State Budget Update
The Massachusetts Senate passed their version of the FY20 budget last week, including amendments funding Mass Audubon’s Trailside Museum and a needed increase for the CPA Trust Fund. Next, the House and Senate budgets will be reconciled in conference committee
Fish and Game Day at the State House
Mass Audubon congratulates former state Senator, Representative, and Environmental Affairs Secretary Bob Durand on his recent appointment to the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Board.
Action You Can Take This Week: Support a Strong State Budget
The Massachusetts Senate begins debate on their version of the state budget tomorrow, and you can help make sure they strengthen funding for the Community Preservation Trust Fund and Mass Audubon’s Trailside Museum. Ask your Senator today to support amendments for CPA and for Trailside!
A curated selection of climate news from Mass Audubon’s climate change
This May, hundreds of valedictorians across the US will deliver the same commencement message on the need for climate action.
Boston makes the “A” list for cities leading the world on climate action!
The South Shore Climate Change Symposium, co-hosted by Mass Audubon’s North River Wildlife Sanctuary, was a successful day of idea sharing
Choosing Renewable Power for Boston
Incorporating renewable energy into local power choice programs helps communities take emission reductions into their own hands. We submitted comments on the City of Boston’s draft Community Choice Power Aggregation plan, urging them to adopt the strongest renewable component possible.
Speaking Up for Healthy Soils
We also submitted testimony with partners in support of legislation to promote healthy soils statewide. Soils are essential for life on earth, and policy makers have an important role to play in planning for their long-term health.
The Plastic Problem
Mass Audubon weighed in on this recent Cape Cod Times article on our plastic pollution problem – a global issue that includes significant impacts along Massachusetts coasts.
Next Steps Needed on Adaptation
We joined partners in supporting state legislation that would provide a needed framework – consistent, predictable policies and regulations – to support the progress Massachusetts has made so far on adaptation planning.
Ask Your State Senator to Support Trailside Funding
Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum is the interpretive center for the state-owned Blue Hills Reservation, and is home to programs like the Snowy Owl Project. Help make sure Trailside gets the state budget funding it needs.
A curated selection of climate news from Mass Audubon’s climate change
See how much you know about what can be done to fight climate change with this quiz
This infographic from our Community Preservation Coalition explores how the Community Preservation Act also helps combat climate change
Improving Outdoor Opportunities
We submitted testimony last week in support of An Act Establishing the Office of Outdoor Recreation, which would work across sectors like public health, tourism, and economic development to promote recreational opportunities in Massachusetts’ outdoor spaces.
Drumlin Farm Education Honored at State House
Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm has received the Secretary’s Award for Excellence for their Riverschools Project, a collaboration with local schools to strengthen awareness and appreciation of river resources. Congratulations to the team!
Input Needed: Culvert and Small Bridge Replacements
Climate change is a frequent concern for communities when dealing with culvert and small bridge infrastructure, since they’ll need to accommodate increased storm flows and flood levels. The state’s Culvert and Small Bridge Working Group is seeking public input as they develop recommendations to address these and other challenges
As the FY20 state budget continues
its progress through the State House, we’re at a crucial point for Mass
Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum funding.
Trailside is the interpretive center
for the state-owned Blue Hills Reservation and features a natural
history museum and outdoor exhibits of rescued wildlife. Mass Audubon operates
the museum in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and
Recreation, which means we receive a crucial component of Trailside’s funding
through the state budget each fiscal year. Trailside welcomes more than 100,000
visitors a year and is home to the Snowy Owl Project.
Although the Governor’s original
FY20 budget did not include funding for Trailside, Senator Walter Timilty has
filed an amendment requesting $1 million for the site. The Senate begins debate
of their version of the FY20 budget on May 21.
Over the past few years, Trailside
has faced a continuing revenue shortfall and received only a fraction of the
state funding needed to sustain its operation and public programs. Senator
Timilty’s amendment is a chance to reclaim that much-needed funding.
You can help! Please contact your state Senator and ask
them to cosponsor Senator Timilty’s Amendment #908 for Trailside, and to
support the amendment when it comes up for debate next week. A quick call
or email can make a big difference. Thank you for your advocacy!