The Massachusetts House of Representatives released their budget for fiscal year 2022 last week. Representatives are currently considering amendments to the budget to fund specific projects or increase funding for budget items.
Please email or call your legislators this week asking them to cosponsor amendments!
Amendment 161 – Increased Funding for DER. The Division of Ecological Restoration is responsible for taking care of culverts, cranberry bog restoration, and restoring streamflow for native species. They also provide crucial technical support to communities with infrastructure upgrades; in 2020 alone, they assisted 144 municipalities. This amendment would increase DER’s budget from the proposed $2.6 million to $3 million for fiscal year 2022.
Amendment 398 – EEA Climate Change Preparedness. This amendment would provide an additional $3 million dollars for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for a total of $5,213,999 for agency staff to coordinate EEA’s preparedness and adaptation efforts, including data collection on climate change impacts to different communities, strengthening wetland restoration, and hiring staff to work on understanding impacts to communities of color and environmental justice populations.
Amendment 997 – Improving Fish Passage. This amendment would give the Division of Marine Fisheries an additional $250,000 to operate their diadromous fish program, in which they restore estuarine habitat to ensure that some of our state’s most iconic species can safely make the journey upstream to spawn. Massachusetts has over 100 fish runs, and 175 fish passages, all of which need annual maintenance and support from DMF so they can continue to support healthy fish populations and the larger ecosystem.
*OPPOSE – *Amendment 281. The amendment protects the Rights of Municipalities and Districts, filed by Representative Alice Hanlon Peisch. It would prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from conditioning water registrations, which govern approximately 60% of water withdrawals in Massachusetts. As both our climate and population changes, DEP must reserve the right to condition water registrations to protect watersheds, especially during times of drought. Massachusetts has experienced two severe droughts in the last five years, with dry conditions already established this year, setting us up for another summer of drought. In response to recent and worsening drought conditions, DEP is currently undergoing a stakeholder process to condition water registrations to conserve water during drought, since right now those withdrawals are not subject to any conservation. Prohibiting conditions to how water is withdrawn from our rivers undermines our ability to remain resilient in the face of worse and more frequent droughts due to climate change.
Here’s a sample email:
Dear Representative ______,
My name is ___________ and I am a resident of ___________. I am writing to request that you cosponsor the following amendments which protect rivers and the communities they flow through. I support these amendments, and hope you will as well.
Amendment 161 – Increased Funding for DER, sponsored by Rep. Meschino
Amendment 398 – EEA Climate Change Preparedness, sponsored by Rep. Vitolo
Amendment 997 – Improving Fish Passage, sponsored by Rep. Barber
[Expand on why those amendments matter to you]
Additionally, please oppose Amendment 281 – Protecting the Rights of Municipalities and Districts. As we face climate change, droughts will be become worse and more frequent; the Department of Environmental Protection needs to retain the right to condition water withdrawals to encourage water conservation in order to protect our water supply and ecological stability.
Thank you for your time and consideration.