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ADVOCACY

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Mass Rivers is proud to serve as the statewide advocacy organization for rivers and streams in the Commonwealth.

Learn more about the advocacy process and our priorities. 

Zoom to find your legislator using our interactive map!

Map created by Caley Earls, Mass Rivers GIS Intern (updated 2023)

Advocacy Wins

  • Won successful passage of a bill to require public notification of sewage spills to waterbodies in Massachusetts in 2021. Learn more >>

  • Forced the EPA to implement stormwater management requirements across the state.

  • Helped draft a 2014 state law to increase water infrastructure funding.

  • Increased stream connectivity by increasing the number of stormwater utilities around the state.  Our six day-long workshops trained 400 municipal staff and consultants on culvert replacements and stormwater utilities.

  • Worked with state staff to significantly strengthen state’s drought response management plan, completed in 2019.

  • Defeated several proposed bills that would have harmed rivers.

  • Increased climate resiliency, aquatic ecosystem protection, and climate justice in several bills that have been enacted into law.

  • Won multi-million dollar increases in both annual state funding and capital budgets for agencies that protect rivers, in FY19, FY20, FY21, FY22, and FY23.

Mass Rivers Top Legislative Priorities (2023-2024)

Read a debrief of how last session went for rivers >>

The Drought Bill: 

S.475/H.861 An Act relative to maintaining adequate water supplies through effective drought management (Sponsored by Representative Joan Meschino and Senator Jamie Eldridge) 

Right now when a drought is declared, each municipality implements their own water conservation measures, leading to a confusing patchwork of policies that provides only limited water savings and relief to our waterways.

The Drought Bill provides a drought management solution that's scaled up to meet our new water needs, and lets our state be proactive in conserving water, rather than waiting for an emergency to hit. Increased conservation would provide relief to our rivers and groundwater, making them more resilient to the increased drought events that are expected in Massachusetts.

 

This bill would give the Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force statutory authority and provide the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs with the authority to require uniform water conservation across a drought region during severe droughts. This only would affect non-essential outdoor watering (that's mostly lawn watering!). Essential water use for agriculture, core business functions, and indoor use would be unaffected.

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Mass Rivers testifying before the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on the drought bill alongside our partners, April 2023.

How are laws made in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, legislative sessions begin on January 1 and last two years. An average of 6,000-10,000 bills are filed every session. However, less than 10% are passed and become state law.  Learn how bills are created and passed in the state legislature >>

How does Massachusetts create its state budget?

Massachusetts fiscal years run from July 1–June 30.  Learn how the state budget is created and passed >>

Advocacy Toolkit

Maintaining consistent contact with your local, state and federal elected officials is key to ensuring that they keep your priorities at the top of their list. For additional information on ways you and/or your organization can improve your advocacy efforts, check out our toolkit >>

Legislative Breakfast

How to Talk to Your Legislator

Where else is Mass Rivers speaking up for rivers?

Mass Rivers participates in state-run task forces, and coalitions with partner organizations. Learn more >>

Action Alert Sign Up

The Environmental and Climate Bond:

 

In 2024, the Healey administration is expected to release a new edition of the environmental bond to support a variety of statewide programs. Mass Rivers will be advocating for climate resilience, including $100 million for the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program. Learn more about that advocacy here >>

More Bills We Support:
 

(S.457/H.906) Wetlands Restoration Permitting Initiative 

  • See the fact sheet from Mass Audubon >>

 

(H.845/S.445) Ecological Mosquito Control Reform

 

(H.876/S.557) Flood Risk Protection Program

(H.757/S.448) Funding for the Office of Outdoor Recreation

(H.890/S.508) Invasive Species

(H.825/S.487) SGARs & Pesticide Reporting
(SD.140) Water Banking

Mass Rivers Budget Priorities – FY24

Every year Mass Rivers advocates alongside our partners for investments in our environment. Increasing the line items below would ensure that the state agencies who steward our waterways and environment have sufficient funding each year.

 

Our goal is to get the state to spend 1% of the state budget on environmental agencies in the yearly budget (FY22 was only at 0.62%, up from 0.55% in FY18).

   

 

See the FY24 fact sheet >>

Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs: 

EEA Admin (Line Item 2000-0100): $4.9 million increase!

FY23: $16.5 million

FY24: $21 million

 

Climate Adaptation and Preparedness (Line Item 2000-0101): $4.6 million increase!
FY23: $5.4 million
FY24: $10 million

Environmental justice (Line Item 2000-0102): $7.4M increase!
FY23: $1.3 million
FY24: $8.8 million

 

EEA oversees many important environmental programs, and the agency has recently taken on more responsibility with the recently passed Roadmap to Net Zero law, the offshore wind and clean energy law, the implementation of the CECP, and ongoing administration of programs with increased demand like the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program. We're advocating for increased funding for EEA so they can keep up with these new and expanded programs.

Implementation of the 2021 Roadmap to Net Zero law and the 2025/2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan will require significant investment in the state agencies responsible for facilitating the state’s climate response and clean energy transition. Proposed improvements in H.1 include the establishment of a federal and regional leadership office and hiring of 14 new environmental justice coordinators to execute on equitable coordinated climate action.

 

Department of Conservation and Recreation – State Parks and Recreation (Line Item 2810-0100): $20.6M increase!
FY23: $85 million
FY24: $105.6 million

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) stewards 450,000 acres of land that provide abundant recreational opportunities, enhance water quality, and contribute to a stable climate. Massachusetts' State Parks experienced a boom of attendance during the pandemic: the average increase in visitation was 99%, though some areas received as much as a 300% increase. DCR needs to be prepared for the impacts of climate change, like flooding and drought, as well as invasive species outbreaks and normal maintenance of facilities. They provide an invaluable environmental, educational, and recreational service to our communities.

 

Increased funding will address ongoing staffing and maintenance shortfalls, persistent underfunding of DCR programs, and implementation of the recommendations of the DCR Special Commission. 

Department of Public Utilities Administration (Line Item 2100-0012): $1.3 million increase!

FY23: $18.3 million

FY24: $19.6 million

This increase will support hiring staff to meet new and ongoing climate and clean energy obligations required of DPU in statute, particularly within the Electric Power Division and to support agency-level environmental justice work. Our goal is for new funding to be provided through General Fund appropriation not by assessments on ratepayers, which may require supplementary language.

Department of Environmental Protection Admin (Line Item 2200-0100): $6.6 million increase!
FY23: $45.4 million
FY24: $52 million

The Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has a critical role in protecting public health and safety. MassDEP is tasked with ensuring clean air and water, managing toxics, reducing solid waste, preserving wetlands, developing energy efficiency projects and preparing the Commonwealth for climate change impacts. They recently added PFAS testing and sewage discharge notification to their workload, without gaining additional employees for those duties. 

Massachusetts is experiencing increasing and intersecting threats to its water supply and vulnerable natural resources. This funding will also support hiring over 50 new DEP staff for critical work including PFAS testing and mitigation, inspection and compliance, and incorporating climate preparedness in permitting.


Natural Heritage and Endangered Species (Line Item 2310-0300): $500k increase!
FY23: $1 million
FY24: $1.5 million

This additional funding will support increased demand for services as well as the continuing rollout of BioMap3 and increased regional support. 

Division of Ecological Restoration (Line Item 2300-0101): $1.1 million increase!
FY23: $4.3 million
FY24: $5.4 million

The Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) within the Department of Fish and Game restores and protects our rivers, wetlands, and watersheds to improve streamflow, protect drinking water, and reduce flooding. Every state dollar invested in DER projects is matched on average by five non-state dollars. Every $1 million spent on restoration in Massachusetts, generates, on average, a 75% return on investment and creates or maintains 12.5 jobs. In FY17, DER and its partners managed over $13 million in federal grants to remove obsolete dams, upgrade failing bridges and replace culverts.

DER operates popular and successful restoration programs with over 100 active projects across the Commonwealth and a significant backlog of project applications. 

In 2023, we had great success - all 6 of our requests for the FY24 state budget were fulfilled, resulting in a $47 million increase to important environmental programs!

We're grateful to the the legislature, and especially Ways & Means Chairs Aaron Michlewitz and Michael Rodrigues, for prioritizing the Commonwealth's environment in the state budget. 

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