This year our conservation leaders, bird advocates, college students, ambassadors, volunteers, and scientists accomplished amazing things. Through early-December, more than 199,000 of us contacted decision-makers more than 783,700 times on behalf of birds. All of the accomplishments listed below come from the hard work and dedication of our members, chapters, volunteers, and staff. We're very proud of what we have been able to accomplish together over the past 12 months.
Keep reading to see the most important ways that our flock worked together this year.
Climate was a hot topic around the Audubon network, with a number of policy wins that show how climate and natural solutions are bipartisan issues.
Coastal Resiliency Win in South Carolina
This year the South Carolina legislature passed the Disaster Relief and Resilience Act to help mitigate many of the problems caused by sea-level rise, which makes flooding a persistent problem in the state. This law, which Audubon has long supported and helped get over the finish line, creates a new state resilience office, led by a state resilience officer, sets requirements for statewide resilience planning, creates a new revolving loan program that will help finance the voluntary buy out of repetitively flooded properties and restore those properties to a natural state; and requires local governments to incorporate resilience into their comprehensive plans.
Vermont passed the Global Warming Solutions Act
The Vermont General Assembly passed the Global Warming Solutions Act into law this fall. The legislation sets carbon pollution reduction targets, requires the development of a state plan to achieve those goals and includes natural climate solutions in that plan, and creates an enforcement provision for the public to sue the state for non-compliance with implementing that plan. Audubon Vermont joined together with a broad coalition of organizations across the environmental, housing, social services and energy sectors to help advance the bill.
Connecticut passed a climate bill that explicitly addresses environmental justice; Governor issues an executive order mandating climate mitigation strategies
Audubon Connecticut helped push a significant step forward for environmental justice in the state with the passage of HB 7008. The legislation requires facilities like power plants, waste treatment facilities, and other large air-emissions producers that impact the environment to communicate more with the public and lawmakers about those impacts, and increases the opportunity for frontline communities to be heard by decision-makers. Audubon Connecticut testified earlier this year and advocated for bipartisan support of the bill.
Additionally, Audubon Connecticut staff lent its expertise on wetlands, rivers, and environmental funding to a new executive order that strengthens Connecticut’s efforts to mitigate climate change and establishes a Governor’s Council on Climate Change to offer recommendations for addressing the impact of climate change on our human and animal communities, our infrastructure, and our economy. This kind of executive order is one of the best paths forward to creating impact at scale when tackling large issues like climate change.
New York renewables plan includes protections for at-risk species
Audubon New York made sure that New York State’s future wind-power projects will protect critical habitat. The projects will require overall environmental and fisheries mitigation plans, provisions to mitigate impacts to wildlife from noise, vessel strikes, and lighting, and a provision for financial and technical support for monitoring wildlife and commercial fish stocks, through a minimum contribution of $10,000 per megawatt. This adds up to $25M for all monitoring efforts across New York state. These new plans are a direct result of our advocacy work with the New York State Environmental Technical Working Group
Louisiana Sets Up a Net-Zero Task Force; New Orleans Adopts Net-Zero Carbon Standard
Two executive orders in Louisiana help set the state up to achieve its stated climate goals of net zero by 2050. The first EO established the Climate Initatives Task Force; the second establishes a Chief Resilience Officer within the Office of the Governor. Work around climate resiliency and net zero will fit into Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, a key framework to help protect Louisiana from the effects of sea level rise. Audubon was an important partner in helping create the Coastal Master Plan and works to keep those projects funded, especially via Deepwater Horizon settlement money.
Additionally, The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously to adopt a Renewable and Clean Portfolio Standard, mandating net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, and a zero-carbon energy portfolio by 2050. Audubon and its partners played a major role in the campaign to get this standard adopted.
Washington State Passes Four Climate-related Policies
Four policies focused on fighting carbon emissions and building a sustainable energy future passed the Washington State legislature this year, including a bill that helps farmers access funds to to better achieve lower emissions and higher carbon sequestration; a bill that requires state agencies to emissions reduction targets; a supplemental budget item to fund better renewables siting; and a requirement to make more electric or other zero-emissions vehicles available for sale in the state. Audubon was instrumental in building grassroots support for the passage of these bills throughout the state, especially the Sustainable Farms and Fields bill, which advances natural climate solutions.
Arkansas Finalizes Rule on Solar Energy
The Arkansas General Assembly approved a rule that makes solar energy more accessible to individuals and businesses in Arkansas and protects full retail credits for all consumers who wish to install solar panels and then sell their excess energy back to the grid. An Audubon-led coalition was key to the crafting of this policy and to its eventual adoption.
Virginia Adopts First Statewide Clean-energy Standard in the Southeast
The Virginia Clean Economy Act, the first statewide clean-energy standard in the U.S. Southeast, passed and was signed into law this spring. Audubon chapters throughout Virginia met with legislators to lobby on behalf of the bill. The legislation provides a blueprint to 100% carbon-free energy production; enacts a binding energy efficiency standard to reduce overall energy consumption; sets a path to closing all fossil fuel emitting power plants in Virginia by 2045; and requires utilities to increase wind and solar energy every year through a mandatory renewable portfolio standard.
30 By 30 Win in California Paves the Way for Indigenous Land Stewardship
This fall California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order directing state agencies to begin an effort to catalogue, study and protect the state’s diversity of wildlife species and to enlist the help of cities, ranchers, farmers and industry in preserving California’s vast expanses of working lands. The goal is to set aside 30 percent of the state's open spaces for conservation by 2030. The order will help ensure access to nature for all Californians, especially those living in nature-deprived communities. This EO is based on the Audubon California-sponsored assembly bill AB 3030, which follows the “30 by 30” international movement to set aside 30 percent of the earth’s land area to preserve wildlife habitat and protect against climate change. It also recognizes the rights, stewardship, and wisdom of Indigenous People and prioritizes ensuring the benefits of cleaner lands, waters, and air are shared by all people.
North Carolina Builds Coastal Resilience Hub to Help Plan for the Future
To help make the North Carolina coast more resilient to storms and sea level rise, Audubon North Carolina is building a coastal resiliency hub at its Pine Island Sanctuary on Currituck Sound. As part of this work, Audubon staff created a new living shoreline to help combat erosion, worked with Elizabeth City State University to map the marshes of Currituck Sound with drones, and built a free, publicly available marsh-restoration planning web app that will help land managers assess the most-threatened portions of Currituck Sound and craft restoration plans accordingly.