Tag Archives: advocacy

Bottle Bill Heads to the Ballot!

Courtesy of MASSPIRG

Courtesy of MASSPIRG

Last week, the Coalition to Update the Bottle Bill delivered the necessary signatures to move forward with a November ballot question that would update the three-decade-old Massachusetts Beverage Retainer Recovery Act.

Although Mass Audubon did not participate in the signature collection, we are fully supportive of the ballot campaign for this much-needed update. The campaign is heading to the ballot because the state legislature failed to pass an update to the existing bill by their deadline.

We urge Mass Audubon members and Massachusetts voters to Vote YES on Question 2 this November to Update the Bottle Bill!

About the Bottle Bill

The Bottle Bill, the nickel deposit on beverage containers, is the state’s most successful recycling and litter prevention program. Since the Bottle Bill’s passage in 1983, more than 35 billion containers have been redeemed, contributing to a healthier environment, cleaner and safer communities, and a stronger economy. But to keep up with the times and consumers’ tastes, the Bottle Bill must be updated.

An updated Bottle Bill would expand our container deposit system to include drinks such as non-carbonated beverages, water, iced tea, juice, and sports drinks. Almost 70% of deposit beverage containers are redeemed each year under the current Bottle Bill, adding to the 9-10% of containers recovered through curbside recycling.

Overall, deposit containers are recycled at a rate of about 80%, while non-deposit containers are recycled at only 23%.

Stay Informed

You can stay up-to-date on how to help with the ballot campaign by visiting the Coalition to Update the Bottle Bill’s website.

Congratulations to the Coalition for all the work that went into collecting these signatures! We will keep you informed as the campaign moves into high gear over the summer and into the fall election season.

A Win for Community Preservation

Tuesday’s election was a win for the environment here in Massachusetts. But not for the reasons you may think. Here, we are celebrating the fact that seven communities voted to adopt the Community Preservation Act (CPA) bringing the Bay State total to 155 communities.

This means that these communities have voted to dedicate local funding, with a state match, to preserve and improve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities.

Over the last 10 years, 42 percent of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns have preserved 15,000 acres of open space. The new CPA communities include: Beverly, Canton, Fall River, Great Barrington, Salem, Somerset, and Somerville.

Why it matters

Until the CPA was enacted back in 2000, there was no steady funding source dedicated to helping communities with strained resources address quality-of-life issues like open space, recreation, and historic preservation. CPA has proven to be a valuable tool for communities that don’t have access to other non-property tax revenue streams like hotel/motel taxes, big-ticket mitigation fees from developers, or state grants for special projects.

In municipalities that vote to adopt CPA, the program allows local officials to use a property tax surcharge and matching state funds to encourage communities to invest in areas often neglected when budgets are tight.

How it works

CPA adopting communities add a surcharge of up to three percent to municipal property taxes to raise money locally. A statewide, dedicated CPA Trust Fund distributes annual matching funds of up to 100 percent of the CPA revenues raised locally by these communities. Fees on filings at the state’s registries of deeds fund the CPA Trust.

For the past six years, a Mass Audubon legislative priority has been to update the CPA legislation to make it more beneficial (not to mention appealing). In July 2012, the Act to Sustain Community Preservation was passed as an amendment to the state budget. Among the improvements:

  • Increases in funding for the statewide Community Preservation Trust Fund, which will allow for even more improvements to towns’ and cities’ existing CPA programs.
  • Incentives for cities to join by allowing for recreation improvements and the use of higher matching funds from other local sources;
  • A provision that gives CPA communities the ability to use CPA funds to fix up existing parks and recreational facilities. Previously, CPA funds could only be used to purchase new parks and recreational facilities.

To learn more about Mass Audubon and its efforts in community  preservation, planning, and smart growth, check out our Shaping the Future of Your Community online handbook and attend a workshop.

Photo © Alison Noyce

Save the Endangered Species Act

This just in from our Advocacy department on Beacon Hill:

ACTION ALERT: Save the Endangered Species Act TODAY!

The Massachusetts Legislature is considering revisions to the state Endangered Species Act (MESA) which would result in an effective repeal of endangered species protections in the Commonwealth.

On June 14, the Joint Committee on Environment approved Senate Bill 1854An Act relative to land takings (filed by Senator Gale Candaras). The bill has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. The redraft will:

  • Place impossible and unprecedented requirements on the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (DFW) to be completed in 7 months, effectively undoing current protections for the 435 species of native animals and plants at risk in Massachusetts.
  • Inject uncertainty, delays and conflict in the project review process, leading to potential fines and lawsuits against landowners and developers.
  • Up-end long-standing appeal procedures and case law putting DFW on different footing than every other agency in the Commonwealth.

This unfunded agency mandate would create an unworkable system leaving endangered species unprotected. To learn more, read the letter in opposition signed by 72 conservation and sportsmen’s organizations, which includes a bill summary and FAQ.  Here is the most recent SB1854 text.

PLEASE ACT NOW!

We urge you to contact your state representative and senator – by phone, email or mail – today. Ask them to protect endangered species and oppose SB1854An Act relative to land takings and ask them to communicate their position to leadership. In the House, that’s Speaker DeLeo and Chairman of House Ways and Means Brian Dempsey and in the Senate, that’s Senate President Murray and Chairman of Senate Ways and Means Stephen Brewer.

Find out who your legislators are and how to contact them.

We expect the bill to be sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means this week and the bill may get a new number. We will keep you posted.

Thank you for stepping up to protect endangered species!

Photo of an Eastern box turtle © Joy Marzolf