Introducing The Audubon Eagle Eye Advocacy Update! These monthly updates will provide you with simple actions you can take to help foster a cleaner, healthier planet along with local and national environmental news. Advocacy to protect birds and wildlife is a top Audubon priority and this work goes beyond testifying on their behalf on Smith Hill. Year round, we are working with our community partners and Rhode Island leaders to ensure the environment is a priority. These updates will keep you informed and ready to take action when the legislative session is upon us. As the newsletter continues, we are very interested in your suggestions and questions. Please send them to Audubon Senior Director of Policy Meg Kerr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Action You Can Take This Month
Remember the mantra Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? We now know that recycling is not the answer to our fascination with single use items. Rather, we need to reduce and reuse. Take stock of the single use items in your life and pledge to reduce them. Invest in a couple of nice reusable coffee cups and a water bottle and keep them in your car or your backpack. Find reusable vegetable bags and use them at the grocery store along with your reusable shopping bags. Send us your creative ways to reduce and reuse (with a picture!) and we will share them with our members.
Climate Change – Transforming our Energy Systems and Making our Communities Resilient
Minimizing impacts of offshore wind on wildlife
Audubon recognizes that climate change is the most significant long-term threat to birds and other wildlife. We are working with a coalition of environmental groups to comment on offshore wind developments and ensure that measures are taken to minimize impacts on birds and other wildlife. The issues are summarized well in this July 2019 brief, written by NRDC, in collaboration with many partners including the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.
RI Progress on Deploying Renewable Energy
The Office of Energy Resources (OER) reports that the state is at 793 MW in our effort to reach 1000 MW by 2020 with much of the energy coming from planned offshore wind projects. See the image below from OER web site.
How do we count progress toward the 1,000 MW by ‘20 Clean Energy Goal?
The projects that are counted toward the goal include a wide variety of sizes and locations, of the following technologies:
- Solar, whether rooftop, carport, or ground mount
- Small hydro
- Wind, both offshore and onshore
- Landfill gas/anaerobic digestion
Projects may be proposed, under development, or even under construction without being counted toward the goal. A clean energy project is only counted when one of the following events has occurred:
- Project is interconnected to the electric grid. This set of projects includes projects that use one of the state renewable energy programs, including the Renewable Energy Growth Program, Net Metering, the Renewable Energy Fund.
- The project has a long-term contract or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) approved by the RI Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Projects in this category are generally larger scale projects which have been selected under a competitive bid process, negotiated a PPA with the utility, and had the PPA reviewed and approved by the PUC. The construction and initial operation of those projects may occur after 2020, but they will be counted if the contract is approved by the end of 2020.
Weakening the Endangered Species Act
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) have jointly announced revisions to regulations that implement portions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), significantly weakening the Act.
The final rules will impair the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act by:
- Requiring that economic factors be considered when deciding whether to protect a species, a sharp departure from the Act’s long-standing reliance on science;
- Making it more difficult to designate critical habitat, a crucial tool for protecting and restoring species, and;
- No longer allowing climate change to be a factor when considering whether to protect a species.
ACTION - Click here to add your name to a petition organized by the Center for Biological Diversity asking Congress to defend the Endangered Species Act
American Burying Beetle downlisting
In May, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed downlisting the American Burying Beetle from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Beetle is the Rhode Island state insect, designated by the General Assembly in 2015 after a campaign led by third-graders from St. Michael’s Country Day School in Newport.
New Funding for Audubon
Stormwater Innovation Center Coming to Roger Williams Park
A press event on September 23rd announced new funding for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. Audubon received a grant through the Southeast New England Watershed Grant Program (SNEP) administered by Restore America’s Estuaries to work in partnership with the City of Providence, The Nature Conservancy and the Green Infrastructure Coalition to create a Stormwater Innovation Center at Roger Williams Park. The Center will develop technology, undertake research, and provide training to municipalities and others to foster better stormwater management throughout the SNEP region.
In 2012, Senator Jack Reed led Congress in securing new funding to conserve and restore Southeast New England’s coastal waters, watersheds, and communities. Sen. Reed’s vision led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop the Southeast New England Program (SNEP). Now, Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) is working with EPA to provide SNEP Watershed Grants, funding local organizations that are restoring clean water and healthy coastal ecosystems. In 2019, this program will award $2.3 million to municipalities, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.
We're hiring for the Center's Stormwater Training Coordinator position! Click here to access the job description.