The monthly Audubon Eagle Eye Advocacy 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 email@example.com.
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With the 2020 legislative session recently underway, there are environmental bills of interest being introduced. Audubon will be following these closely and will keep readers of Eagle Eye up to date on progress. If you would like to testify at bill hearings, please sign up to track the bills on your own. We often only get a few days of notice before hearings – rarely enough time to get out an email to a broad list of interested people. See our bill tracking insturctions, below!
** Act on Climate 2020 (a top Audubon priority)
H 7399. Sponsored by Representatives Blazejewski, Abney, Bennett, Carson, Ruggiero
In 2014, the General Assembly enacted the Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014. This was the state’s first-ever comprehensive climate bill, calling for reductions of carbon emissions of 45% by 2035 and 80% by 2050 below 1990 levels. Unfortunately, the carbon emission reduction goals in the 2014 Resilient Rhode Island Act are out of date and just aspirational goals, lacking accountability and transparency.
This year’s bill changes the Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014 in two important ways:
- First, it updates the climate targets in accordance with the latest science regarding what is needed to avert climate disaster, setting the 2035 mandate at a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the 2050 mandate at a 100% reduction.
- Second, it requires accountability and transparency by making the state’s carbon emission reductions mandatory – that is, both legally binding and enforceable.
Act on Climate 2020 is a very short, very simple bill. It puts Rhode Island on a path toward net-zero emissions by 2050, which is what the current science tells us we need to do. It also requires transparency and accountability, by making our targets legally binding and enforceable. Massachusetts enacted its Global Warming Solutions Act in 2008, and it’s working. Rhode Island is now more than a decade behind Massachusetts, and it is time to catch up.
The Climate Change Coastal Adaptation Trust Fund
S 2112. Sponsored by Senators Lynch Prata, McCaffrey, Euer, Conley, Gallo
H 7165. Sponsored by Representatives Vella-Wilkinson, Shekarchi, Bennett, Handy, Ruggiero
These bills create a fund for coastal resiliency projects funded by a uniform fee charged to petroleum products when they enter RI.
Bags: Plastic Waste Reduction Act House Hearing this week
S 2003. Sponsored by Senators Ruggerio, Sosnowski, Coyne, Euer, and Miller.
H 7306. Sponsored by Representatives McEntee, Shekarchi, Bennett, Craven, Knight | Read our Testimony (PDF Download)
The hearing on the House bill is scheduled for Thursday, February 6th at the rise (approximately 4:30 PM) in room 101. The bills are similar but not identical. Audubon supports both bills because they create a statewide plastic bag ban that includes the correct definition of reusable bags (stitched handles). The Senate bill was heard in committee on January 29 with broadly favorable testimony. The Providence Journal covered the hearing.
Single Use Plastic Straws Hearing this week
H 7163. Sponsored by Representatives Bennett, Canario, Jackson, Vella-Wilkinson, Handy | Read our Testimony (PDF Download)
This bill would not allow food service establishments to provide straws unless requested by the consumer. The hearing on this bill is scheduled for Thursday, February 6th at the rise (approximately 4:30 PM) in room 101.
Disposable Food Service Containers Hearing this week
H 7164. Sponsored by Representatives Bennett, Canario, Jackson, Vella-Wilkinson, Handy. | Read our Testimony (PDF Download)
This bill would prohibit disposable food containers made in whole or part of polystyrene foam It would also prohibit plastic beverage stirrers. The hearing on this bill is scheduled for Thursday, February 6th at the rise (approximately 4:30 PM) in room 101.
How you can track a bill
The Rhode Island General Assembly legislation webpage makes it easy to find and track bills.
For instant information: Click "Bill Status/History" and type the bill number(s) under "Bills".
To subscribe to email updates: look for “Bill Tracking” at the bottom of the page and click on the icon. You will be taken to a page where you will need to set up an account with a username and password. Once you have registered, click “Manage Bills” and enter the number of any bill(s) you would like to follow. Once you have registered and entered the bill numbers into the bill tracking system, set your alert frequency to "daily" and you will recceive an email whenever there is action on your selected bills, including when hearings are scheduled (you will not receive an email everyday).
Bills in this issue (copy and paste the follow into the Bill Tracking tool!): 7399,2112,7165,2003,7306,7163,7164
Comment on Proposed Changes to the Migratory Bird Act
New regulations governing the Migratory Bird Act were published in the Federal Register on February 3. Public comments will be taken until March 19, 2020.
According to the Federal Register:
You may submit comments by either one of the following methods. Please do not submit comments by both.
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2018-0090.
- U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-MB-2018-0090; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; MS: JAO/1N; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
Here are some points you might want to make in your letter:
- State your opposition to the new regulations and your deep concern for birds in RI and around the world.
- The Migratory Bird treaty is the foundational law protecting birds. For the past half-century, the law has been interpreted to prohibit “incidental take,” or the inadvertent but often predictable killing of birds, usually through industrial activities. These regulations would reverse this policy, allowing industries, oil spills etc. to avoid being held accountable for bird deaths caused by their activities.
- Bird populations are declining world wide. Recent research estimates that North America has lost more than a quarter of its bird population over the past 50 years.
Climate Crisis Advocate Training
February 12th| 7 PM - 9 PM | Climate Community Center, 545 Pawtucket Ave Suite C103, Pawtucket, RI 02860
Join Common Cause, the Energize Rhode Island Coalition, and the Rhode Island Climate Crisis Campaign for a free workshop that will give you the tools you need to take action on the climate crisis.
Rhode Island's economy, communities, and natural resources are gravely threatened by the climate crisis, but our leaders lack the political will to enact strong climate policy. In some cases, they have even publicly refused to act! Rhode Islanders must stand up to demand climate action in 2020.
This workshop will help you engage in conversations about climate change with your friends, family, and policymakers. By raising our voice together, we can build Rhode Island's climate movement.
Other event details:
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange childcare, translation, or transportation.
Food will be provided.
Reading Across Rhode Island – Rhode Island Center for the Book
This year’s book is Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush. This is a beautifully written book describing how rising seas are changing people’s lives throughout the U.S. today. The author will be at Salve Regina University on April 2. Registration will be at the RI Center for the Book web site in February.