Ambar Espinoza

Environmental Reporter

Ambar Espinoza’s roots in environmental journalism started in Rhode Island a few years ago as an environmental reporting fellow at the Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting. She worked as a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio for a few years covering several beats, including the environment and changing demographics. Her journalism experience includes working as production and editorial assistant at National Public Radio, and as a researcher at APM’s Marketplace.

Espinoza joins Rhode Island Public Radio most recently from Seattle, WA, where she earned a master of education with a focus on science education from the University of Washington. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from American University in Washington, D.C. Espinoza was born in El Salvador and raised in Los Angeles, CA.

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Matt Gineo / RIPR

Three groups on Aquidneck Island have kicked off a pilot program to remove debris from Newport Harbor.

Clean Ocean Access executive director Dave McLaughlin said the first of several summer cleanups takes place next week in partnership with Newport Maritime Alliance and the Newport Waterfront Commission.

“We’re going to get two divers in the water and we’re going to clean a portion of the submerged debris on the harbor floor,” said McLaughlin. “It’s going to provide a baseline of what do we see from the surface and what did we find on the floor when we got down there.”


The City of Providence has rolled out a new initiative to implement the city’s sustainability plan, aimed at reducing the effects of climate change. The initiative has a strong focus on community outreach.

National Grid has filed an application (PDF) with the federal government to add facilities to its existing liquefied natural gas storage property in Providence.

Mike Cohea / Photo Courtesy of Brown University

A Brown University professor has joined a team of scientists from four European countries to study how plant reproduction has evolved. This research could ultimately help improve crop yields in light of climate change and a rapidly growing population.

Audio Pending...


The New England Fishery Management Council made the right move recently, voting to ask the federal government to suspend an at-sea monitoring program required of the groundfish industry, according to long-time fisherman Fred Mattera, who said shifting the cost to fishermen could decimate the industry.

Mattera, who was a commercial fisherman for 40 years, said fishermen already have to deal with quota cutbacks and depressed prices for locally caught fish. 

Photo Courtesy of St. Michael's Country Day School

The bill to make the American burying beetle the official state insect heads to the governor’s desk. This was the result of steady lobbying by third graders in Newport.


Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Last night, friends and families gathered at a historically black church in Providence to honor the nine people who were murdered at a prayer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. This interfaith service was both a memorial and a call for social justice. 

Eight clergy members from different churches walked down the aisle together at Olney Street Baptist Church before a racially mixed group of about 100 people.

Nine candles stood at an altar to honor the nine people killed in the Charleston church shooting.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Muslims around the world are celebrating Ramadan, a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. In Rhode Island, Muslims are observing this month-long holiday at the same time that a Warwick resident, who is a Muslim convert, is facing charges of plotting to support foreign terrorist groups. The Muslim community is concerned this could cast their community in a negative light.

RIPR File Photo

The New England Fishery Management Council plans to ask the federal government to suspend an at-sea monitoring program required of the region’s groundfish industry.  The council voted this week to send that request to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA Fisheries requires that one out of every five fishing trips has a human being monitoring catch. At-sea monitors collect data on catch, bycatch, and fish thrown back to sea.

Beginning late August, NOAA Fisheries will no longer be able to pay for at-sea monitors.

The bill that requires phasing out cesspools heads to the governor’s office, after the Senate and House passed it.  It will take effect January 1, 2016.

Homeowners who are selling their property or transferring ownership have 12 months within the date of sale or transfer to remove and replace their cesspools.  

Low-interest loans and hardship waivers will be available for low-income property owners or purchasers. 

This post has been updated.

The Texas-based pipeline company Spectra Energy has secured a permit from the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to upgrade its compressor station in Burrillville. The upgrade is part of a pipeline expansion project to bring more natural gas to New England and ease the region’s energy crisis, according to the company.

Providence college professor Tony Affigne, who chairs the Green Party of Rhode Island, said he’s disappointed state officials did not conduct a more comprehensive review of the project.

By law, the Coastal Resources Management Council should have two hearing officers to oversee contested cases. But the agency has gone without a full-time hearing officer for more than 10 years.

  The state’s largest environmental advocacy group, Save The Bay, has called on Gov. Gina Raimondo to appoint at least one full-time hearing officer to the CRMC.

U.S. Geological Survey

The New England Fishery Management Council has reduced protections of highly sensitive areas in Georges Bank, on the continental shelf east of Cape Cod, and opened it to commercial scalloping. The vote comes after a 12-year-review of habitat protection measures in the Omnibus Habitat Amendment.

Approximately 10,000 square kilometers on Georges Bank, an important fishery area for Rhode Island fishermen, have been protected from fishing for more than 20 years.

John Bender / RIPR

Over the years, the state has slashed budgets across all government agencies, including the Department of Environmental Management. This agency, tasked with protecting the environment, has seen a decline in staffing. Environmental advocates say these cuts have weakened and slowed enforcing environmental laws and regulations.   

Earlier this year, residents packed a small room at the Statehouse for a hearing about a zoning bill. They complained to lawmakers about industrial pollution from a quarry in Westerly. Residents blame the DEM for poor monitoring and enforcement.

Ambar Espinoza

Knocks went unanswered Friday at the Warwick home of Nicholas Rovinski, the man accused of conspiring to support the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State.

Rovinksi was in a Boston courtroom earlier Friday afternoon. Reporters described him as thin, with a dark beard and cropped hair.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Ambar Espinoza reports that Rovinski's neighbors are saying little about the charges.