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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Environment
5:30 am
Tue February 4, 2014

CRMC Subcommittee To Hold Hearing On Deepwater Wind's Permit Application

Credit RIPR File

A subcommittee of the Coastal Resources Management Council will hold its first public hearing today on Deepwater Wind’s permit application to build an off-shore wind farm in Rhode Island waters.

The hearing is the first of two scheduled for this month.

Deepwater proposes to build a wind farm with five turbines, 3 miles southeast of Block Island, and an underwater transmission cable that would run from Block Island to the Rhode Island mainland.

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Environment
5:30 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Efforts To Improve Recycling Rates In Providence Paying Off

The recycling facility at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation.
Credit Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Residents in the city of Providence are recycling more than they were nearly a year ago.

The city delivered small gray trash barrels in the fall of 2012, so that residents could use their green 95-gallon trash bins as recycling bins instead.

The city sent out mailings, recorded phone messages, and launched an advertising campaign to let people know of the switch. But that wasn’t enough.

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Environment
12:13 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

Fee Waiver Amendment Would Help River Restoration Projects

Local nonprofits, cities, and towns across Rhode Island working to restore river habitats may benefit from an amendment tucked into a bill aimed at providing temporary relief to homeowners facing sharp rate increases in their flood insurance policies. That bill passed in the Senate on Thursday.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse introduced the amendment that would get rid of expensive permit fees for such projects as dam removals, culvert redesigns, and fish ladder installations.

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Environment
12:00 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Rhode Island High Schools To Compete In Ocean Science Bowl

Last year's Quahog Bowl first place team was Cranston High School West. Steve Krous (far right) coaches the school's ocean science bowl team and chairs the school's science department. His teams have won first place numerous times at the regional Quahog Bowl.
Credit Courtesy of Diana Payne

Four Rhode Island high schools will compete all day Saturday, Feb. 1 with eight other Connecticut high schools at an annual ocean science competition, called the Quahog Bowl.

The Connecticut Sea Grant’s Diana Payne organizes the competition and says Rhode Island schools typically do quite well.

“As a matter of fact, out of the 17 quahog bowls that have been held, Cranston [High School] West has actually won 15 of them,” said Payne. “They have represented the Quahog Bowl at nationals 15 out of 17 times. [That’s] quite a record.”

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Environment
1:16 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

CRMC Staff Report Has "No Objections" to Block Island Offshore Wind Farms

One of the wind turbines already installed in Rhode Island.
Credit RIPR FILE

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council says it does not object with the wind farm projects off Block Island proposed by developer Deepwater Wind.

Four CRMC staff members shared this position, along with 17 recommended stipulations, in a 53-page staff report earlier this week in advance of a public hearing on the project’s permit application next week.

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Environment
7:00 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Local Businessmen To Build State’s First Industrial-Scale Composting Plant

Decayed food waste breaks down into soil. Composting is a natural way to recycle food waste that would otherwise make its way to the landfill.
Credit Kessner Photography via Creative Commons

For a pair of Rhode Island businessmen, sending food waste to the landfill doesn’t make any sense. So they’re raising money to build a composting plant. It would be the state’s first industrial-scale composting facility.

The Central Landfill is expected to reach full capacity in about 25 years. Leo Pollock and Nat Harris said their composting facility is not going to solve the state’s landfill problem, but it will help. 

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Environment
6:00 am
Sun January 26, 2014

Plastic Bag Ban Reintroduced With Public Support

Credit s2art via Creative Commons

State Rep. Maria Cimini recently reintroduced a bill to ban plastic bags in Rhode Island. Environment Rhode Island collected more than 10,000 public comments supporting a statewide plastic ban.

The group began collecting signatures to support a statewide plastic bag ban since last summer, after a bill banning them died in committee hearings last year.

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Environment
4:00 am
Fri January 24, 2014

RI DEM To Update Wildlife Conservation Plan

The presence of spotted turtles in wetlands can say a lot about a wetland's health. This is why spotted turtles and other endangered species are valuable species, because they are considered "bioindicators" of a habitat's health.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is updating its wildlife conservation plan. It’s part of a nationwide initiative to identify threatened and endangered species, and set aside money to protect them. Some of those species include big brown bats, herring, and spotted turtles.

This year’s project has a community outreach person who will oversee work done by cities and towns and help put their conservation plans to work. The DEM’s Jay Osenkowski says this piece was missing the first time the state launched this initiative.

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Local Feature
9:46 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Debrief: What Does It Mean To Reduce Nitrogen In Narragansett Bay?

A local quahog fisherman is happy with the improving the health of Narragansett Bay. He harvested these quahogs on a recent chilly and windy morning.
Credit Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island is remarkably close to meeting a goal of reducing nitrogen discharged in upper Narragansett Bay by 50 percent. Upgrades at wastewater treatment plants have played a major role in helping meet this goal. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environment reporter Ambar Espinoza joined Elisabeth Harrison in the studio to talk about what it means to reduce the amount of nitrogen we put into the bay.

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Local Feature
6:44 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Quahog Fisherman Pleased With Progress Of Narragansett Bay Cleanup

Weather permitting, Jody King goes quahog fishing every morning.
Ambar Espinoza RIPR

It’s been a decade since a big fish kill in Greenwich Bay grabbed headlines.  It prompted the state to take more action for a healthier upper Narragansett Bay. Local wastewater treatment plants responded and it turns out, the state is on track to meet the goal of cutting back how much nitrogen we put into Narragansett Bay. That’s great news for one quahog fisherman who’s made a livelihood from the bay for decades.

There’s no better season to go quahogging than the winter season for Warwick resident Jody King, even though he makes half as much money as he does in the summer.

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