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
11:00 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Legislation Would Require Labeling of GMO's Sold In RI

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States come from genetically engineered seeds.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Between 60 to 70 percent of foods in supermarkets contain genetically modified organisms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. State lawmakers are pushing two bills that would require the labeling of genetically modified foods sold in Rhode Island.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants and animals that have had their genes transferred between other plants and animals that are distantly related or not related at all. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States come from genetically engineered seeds.

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Environment
4:00 am
Sun January 19, 2014

Flushable Wipes Problematic For Rhode Island Wastewater Treatment Plants

Wet wipes marketed as "flushable" are not designed to break down as quickly as regular toilet paper breaks down. Instead, the wipes create expensive clogs and blockages when they bind with oils that are poured down drains.
Credit Courtesy of Warwick Sewer Authority

Those wet wipes marketed as “flushable” are causing major costly problems for sewer systems across Rhode Island.

Managers at wastewater treatment facilities say just because the wipes are flushable doesn’t mean that they break down as easily and quickly as regular toilet paper. Instead they clog pump stations and sewer pipes, forcing treatment plants to spend time and money unclogging their systems.

Warwick Sewer Authority Superintendent Janine Burke says removing those wet wipe clogs takes man power, up to three employees at her facility.

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Environment
4:00 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Sen. Whitehouse Talks With Alaskans Threatened By Climate Change

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on the Senate floor in Washington.
Credit Courtesy Whitehouse Office

In Washington D.C., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse will talk with Alaska Natives this morning to find out how extreme coastal erosion caused by climate change may force them to relocate from their village.

The Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, co-chaired by Sen. Whitehouse and Ca. Rep. Henry Waxman, is hosting five residents from the Alaskan village of Shishmaref.

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Environment
5:45 am
Sat January 11, 2014

Westerly Teens Expand Their Grease Recycling Program

The Turn Grease Into Fuel Team.
Credit Courtesy of Cassandra Lin

A local program to help residents recycle their waste cooking oil has added 12 recycling receptacles at transfer stations in southeastern Connecticut. 

A team of 10-year-olds started the program, called Turn Grease Into Fuel (TGIF), in Westerly five years ago to help both their local community and environment. 

Fifteen-year-old Cassandra Lin, one of the founders of this student-led community service project, said she was astonished to learn at a young age that families in Westerly were struggling to heat their homes.

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Environment
3:44 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Increases Call For Climate Change Action

Credit Courtesy of U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced a new initiative aimed at pushing for urgent action on climate change.  

This is one of several efforts by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse to address climate change. He’s delivered weekly speeches on the issue for more than a year and formed the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change last year with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).

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Science
4:43 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Local Comb Jelly Is Our Closest Ancient Relative

Credit NOAA Photo Gallery / Wikimedia Commons

Scientists long thought that sponges were our most distant animal relative. But a recent study presents evidence that the comb jelly is our closest ancient relative.

If you’ve sailed Narragansett waters, then there’s a good chance you’ve gotten a glimpse of these shapeless blobs. They reflect rainbow-like iridescent colors in the water.

This gelatinous animal is covered in cilia, the little hair-like structures that also coat our lungs and intestines; the comb jelly uses it to swim and propel itself through the water.

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Environment
5:19 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Trout Stocked In State For Winter Fishing Season

Close up of rainbow trout.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Anglers can count on trout to fish over the winter season. Officials with the Department of Environmental Management’s Fish and Wildlife Division stocked approximately 2,000 rainbow trout in several ponds statewide during the first two weeks of December.

Those ponds include Carbuncle Pond in Coventry, Barber Pond in South Kingstown, Silver Spring Lake in North Kingstown, and the Wood River with access from Route 165 in Exeter.

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Environment
5:00 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Brown Welcomes New Greenhouse For Plant Research

Brown University's new greenhouse, formally known as the Plant Environmental Center, sits atop the new Building for Environmental Research and Teaching.
Ambar Espinoza RIPR

The New Year is set to usher in a new era of plant research at Brown University with a new greenhouse atop the renovated Building for Environmental Research and Teaching (BERT).

The new greenhouse, formally known as the Plant Environmental Center (PEC), gives university researchers the ability to grow and study plants in multiple environments, allowing plant researchers to study the effects of climate change on plants. For the first time, researchers will be able to simulate various environmental conditions, such as high temperatures and droughts.

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Environment
3:02 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Repurposing, Recycling Old Clothes Cuts Carbon Footprint

One way to reduce your carbon footprint is to donate or repurpose your old clothes and other rags. Textile recycling has a greater impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions than you might think.

Representatives with the nonprofit Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles said clothing and textiles are not typically considered recyclable products. But they estimate 95 percent of all clothing and other household textiles can be recycled and repurposed, as long as they are clean and dry.

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Environment
3:50 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Invasive Winter Moths Back In Flight To Mate

The invasive winter moth.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Department of Environmental Management said those moths you’ve spotted covering the porch light these past few weeks are an invasive winter moth. These male moths are on the hunt for flightless females.

These nonnative invasive moths have emerged since late November and the DEM expects to receive additional sighting reports through the end of the year. 

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