Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Just this week, the U.S. Senate went on the record that climate change exists. Local and state officials in Rhode Island haven’t been waiting around to take the lead from Washington. They not only know climate change is real, but they’re also planning for its impacts. As part of our Battle With The Sea series, Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza went on a tour with the Environmental Protection Agency’s northeast director to see how plans are in place.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

The regional head of the environmental protection agency said Rhode Island is doing state-of-the-art planning for climate change threats.  Curt Spalding spent Wednesday seeing firsthand the tools coastal managers have already put into place.

Whitehouse Office

Climate change is real, not a hoax. That’s according the U.S. Senate, which is now on record about the reality of climate change.  The Senate voted 98 to 1 on an amendment recognizing climate change in the Keystone Pipeline bill.  

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s New England region is in Rhode Island Wednesday. Curt Spalding will survey parts of the state, to see which are at risk to storms and increased sea level rise.

For two days, the EPA’s Curt Spalding will tour areas in Westerly, South Kingstown, North Kingstown and Warwick. The idea behind the tour is twofold: to examine at-risk areas, and share ideas and existing tools for how to plan for rising seas and more violent storms.

Ed Hughes / The Audubon Society of Rhode Island

If bird watching is your way of combating the winter blues, then the Audubon of Society of Rhode Island has a challenge for you, as Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza reports.

In the past, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI) has held something called a bird-a-thon, where bird watchers try to identify as many bird species as they can in a day.  

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

A recycling program for light bulbs with mercury has kept nearly seven grams of mercury out of our waterways in its first four months of operation. 

Seven grams of mercury is enough to make more than 20 tons of fish unsafe to eat, said David Gerraughty, the mercury program coordinator at Clean Water Action Rhode Island, the group that’s paying for the cost of this recycling program.

Gerraughty said the most common exposure to mercury is through eating contaminated fish.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received four million comments for its trio of federal rules proposing to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. This is why the EPA will miss a deadline this month to finalize one of those plans. Now the agency will finalize those rules all at once in the mid-summer.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management submitted comments, encouraging the EPA to continue recognizing existing efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation

Scientists are embarking upon a major campaign to get wild heron back on Rose Island.  Over the last decade the birds have disappeared from the island which sits between Newport and Jamestown in Narragansett Bay. .

Some 300 hundred pair of heron nested on the island until the mid-2000’s.  That number has dwindled to zero. The island’s caretakers think human activity, and environmental changes are to blame.   They’re fundraising to bring the birds back.  Rick Best is a spokesman for the Rhode Island Lighthouse Foundation.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Nosotros tiramos un montón de comida durante los días festivos. Más de lo habitual. La comida que termina en la basura no sólo perjudica nuestros bolsillos, pero también llena los vertederos, o rellenos sanitarios, despidiendo gases nocivos.

El Consejo de Políticas Alimentarias de Rhode Island (en ingles: Rhode Island Food Policy Council) lanzó un programa piloto a principios de este año, enseñando a la gente a reducir la cantidad de comida que tiran. Nuestra reportera ambiental Ambar Espinoza ensayo con el programa y tiene esta historia.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

We throw away a lot of food over the holidays. More than usual. We generate about 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Food that ends up in the trash can not only hurts our wallets, but also fills up landfills, sending off noxious gases. The Rhode Island Food Policy Council launched a pilot program earlier this year, teaching people how to cut down the amount of food they throw away. Our environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza gave it a try and has this story.

Saftey Tips For Live Christmas Trees

Dec 23, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

Holiday decorations are up around the state, and fire departments are reminding residents to stay safe.  And there are a few things to keep in mind this holiday season.


The Navy is abandoning a plan to install wind turbines at Naval Station Newport.  Instead it is considering installing solar panels. 

Asthma rates in Rhode Island are above the national average, according to a Brown University professor who testified before a Senate subcommittee hearing focused on air quality standards. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza has more details.

The hearing focused on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to strengthen the air quality standard for ozone, the main pollutant in smog linked to asthma, heart disease, and premature death, from the present standard of 75 parts per million down to a range of 65 to 70 parts per million.  

Photo Courtesy of Janine Burke

Here’s an effect of climate change you might not have thought of: heavy rains flood wastewater treatment plants. These intense rain storms are one result of warming temperatures. As part of our ongoing series, Battle With The Sea, Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza has a report from a wastewater treatment plant in Warwick.

The Warwick Sewer Authority is located on the banks of the Pawtuxet River, next to what is called an oxbow, the U-shape curve in a river. The river wants to fill in the land next to the oxbow each time it floods. 

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Advocates for parkland in the Blackstone River Valley celebrated the approval of Rhode Island’s first national park last Tuesday.  The park stretches more than 500 square miles, from Worcester Massachusetts all the way to Providence.