Affiliate of the Week: Environmental League of Massachusetts
In honor of our 80th Anniversary celebration throughout 2016, the National Wildlife Federation is recognizing each of our Affiliate Partners in a special “Affiliate of the Week” blog series that showcases the dedicated conservation efforts taking place across the country each day. This week we celebrate our affiliate, Environmental League of Massachusetts, and their commitment to wildlife.
Who We Are
Since 1898, the Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM) has been committed to combating climate change and protecting land, water, and public health. By creating diverse alliances and building the power of the environmental community, they use their collective influence to ensure Massachusetts is a leader in environmental and economic sustainability.
The Environmental League of Massachusetts is a nonprofit educational and advocacy organization supported by a combination of individual and foundation philanthropy, dues from citizens and organization members, and proceeds from special events.
What We Do
ELM focus their resources on the state level, where they believe that their knowledge, expertise and reputation allow them to have the strongest impact. They also network and collaborate with a variety of leaders in business, government, and other environmental nonprofits to achieve effective results. They advocate for strong environmental laws and regulations on a broad range of environmental issues, including:
Energy and Climate Change: These two issues are at the core of ELM’s policy advocacy work. ELM works to defend and strengthen policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase local, renewable energy options for Massachusetts customers along with their partners in the Global Warming Solutions Project (GWSP), an ELM-led coalition of advocacy organizations.
- Smart Growth: ELM is a founding member and plays a leading role in the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA). They seek to promote healthy and diverse communities, protect critical environmental resources and working landscapes, advocate for housing and transportation choices, and support equitable community development and urban reinvestment.
- Transportation: Transportation investments should be based on sound land use planning to cut down on the length of commutes. ELM advocates for the state to support improved planning so that housing, jobs, and shops are sited in greater proximity to one another.
- Sustainable Water Management: Required by the Sustainable Water Resources Act, this initiative provides science-based streamflow standards. ELM participates in a state-appointed Sustainable Water Management Advisory Committee to address the health of rivers and streams. The initiative is aimed at providing both ample drinking water supply and healthy aquatic habitat.
Land Protection: ELM has long played an important role in protecting land since its original founding as the Massachusetts Forestry Association in 1898. Currently 55% of wildlife habitat still lacks permanent protection, and only 16% of wetlands are permanently protected. Land protection can play a role in how species adapt to changes in climate. Forested landscapes also play an important role in sequestering carbon dioxide.
- Toxics: ELM was a leader in the fight to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in manufacturing, which led to passage of the landmark Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) in 1989. TURA has been responsible for significant reductions in chemical use over the past two decades. ELM continues to work to defend and strengthen the law. ELM is also a member of an Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, which advocates for laws and policies that prevent harm to the state’s health from toxic chemicals.
- Waste and Recycling: Each year, ELM advocates for the state operating budget to restore funding for the Recycling and Solid Waste Management program within MassDEP. One of the goals in the plan is to reduce solid waste disposal 30 percent by 2020; ELM advocates for measures that will decrease trash and increase reuse, recycling, and composting, thereby reducing environmental impact, improving public health, saving money for taxpayers, and creating jobs.
Making A National Impact
ELM and the National Wildlife Federation are working together with other local partners to promote offshore wind power for Massachusetts. Offshore wind power is a solution that matches the scale of the Commonwealth’s growing energy challenges. Now is the moment to embrace the many benefits it can deliver to the environment, communities, and economy.
Recently, ELM, NWF, and partners celebrated a success in the renewable energy sector as the Massachusetts Senate passed their version of an energy bill that contains the largest state offshore wind power commitment to date. The bill commits Massachusetts to generating at least 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power, thus leading the state to launch the nation’s offshore wind industry.
By investing in offshore wind, the state will be boosting its economy, relying less on fossil fuels and power plants, supporting public health, and protecting wildlife and wild places. With this clean energy initiative, Massachusetts will model the way for other states to harness their renewable energy resources. Together, we can all make a positive difference for communities and wildlife.
Massachusetts and other states can better protect wildlife while creating jobs by moving away from fossil fuel-based energies to local, clean energy — but only if elected officials and regulators take the right steps now.
As the House and Senate versions of the energy bill now move to the Conference Committee, ELM and NWF urge leaders on Beacon Hill to seize this opportunity and finalize a bill that will ensure Massachusetts leads America’s pursuit of this next clean energy frontier.