WNPR

Ambar Espinoza

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.

The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation is kicking off a new project to collect data on black sea bass, a species that has moved north in search of cooler water.

Four of five turbines that will produce energy off the coast of Block Island later this fall have been completely installed.

If the weather cooperates, the fifth will also be up by the end of the week, said GE Offshore Wind CEO Anders Soe-Jensen during a small media boat tour yesterday of Deepwater Wind's Block Island Wind Farm.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Cumberland, Rhode Island popped up on a list of cities and towns that have unsafe levels of the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. It’s used to make Teflon. It turns out those levels have dropped significantly in the town over the past year.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

At a private tour at ProvPort, state officials got a close look at blades that will eventually spin at the Block Island Wind Farm, contracted to the company Deepwater Wind.

The doctor-turned-politician from Massachusetts is running for a second time as the Green Party presidential candidate. 

Geoscientists from Brown University are part of a team at NASA looking for good places for humans to explore on the planet Mars, the most Earth-like planet in the solar system.  

Block Island has been dubbed one of “the last great places” in the western hemisphere. It has a shoreline largely untouched by development. But on the northwest corner of island, storms have been washing away at the bluffs, unearthing what used to be the island’s landfill.

A new house in Matunuck will sustain winds of more than 130 miles per hour. It’s the first home under construction in New England built to disaster certification standards known as FORTIFIED.

After a string of severe storms in recent years, the state hopes to shift to a more rigorous building code so that homes can sustain high winds and water damage.

Foreign ministers in Paris have a tough week ahead as they tackle the first draft of a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But local observers are still encouraged by positive signs in the climate negotiations.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and like most of us, the men at the maximum-security prison in Cranston will sit down to a Thanksgiving meal. Their turkey and stuffing will be seasoned with herbs harvested from their prison garden. 

The first batch of equipment for the Block Island Wind Farm towers will arrive by ship this week. The towers will be assembled at the Port of Providence.

University of Rhode Island scientists are turning to salt marshes to better understand the relationship between climate change and sea level rise.

Humans have been harnessing energy from rivers for thousands of years. Think water wheels from Ancient Greece and modern hydropower plants, like the Hoover Dam. Brown University engineers have a new take on a hydropower device that could harness enough energy to power communities in remote locations or along fast-flowing rivers.

Deepwater Wind is still on schedule to complete the first construction phase of the Block Island Wind Farm, despite issues related to equipment reliability and worker safety. Contractors have about one more month of construction to go, according to Grover Fugate, the executive director of the Coastal Resources Management Council.

Fugate said Deepwater Wind has gotten its contractors to implement safety recommendations and replace inadequate equipment for choppy ocean conditions.

Nearly three years after Superstorm Sandy, some Rhode Island residents are still dealing with the aftermath. And it’s not just damage to buildings and property. These Rhode Islanders are struggling with mental illness related to stress. 

Work is underway to remove the White Rock Dam on the Pawcatuck River, along the Rhode Island/Connecticut border.The dam was built in 1940.

The White Rock Dam is located seven miles from the mouth of the Pawcatuck River, near Westerly and Stonington, Ct. Dams have restricted its flow since before the American Revolutionary War. The current dam stands six feet tall and more than 100 feet long. 

Fishermen in the Gulf of Maine have been harvesting lobsters at record highs. That’s in contrast to fishermen in Southern New England, where there has been a sharp decline in the lobster population since the late 1990s. 

 

Deepwater Wind started to put steel in the water this week for the Block Island Wind Farm. Island residents have mixed feelings about the construction.  

Susan Torrey lives on Block Island all year. She and her husband have been waiting to see visible signs of what is expected to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

State and federal officials are turning to researchers at the University of Rhode Island to help them understand what happened at Salty Brine State Beach over the weekend when a mini explosion knocked a woman into a jetty, leaving her with two broken ribs. A team of scientists will convene at the beach at low tide later today to collect samples in their search for answers.

Homeowners interested in switching to solar energy will soon have the option to do so with no upfront costs. The nation’s largest rooftop solar installer is coming to Rhode Island. Starting this week, California-based SolarCity will offer Rhode Islanders loans to buy home solar systems.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to continue to monitor daily the three beluga whales exploring Narragansett Bay. Biologists want to make sure they return safely back to their Arctic habitat.

The parent company of Twin River presented few details to the Tiverton town council regarding its plans to move Newport Grand’s gaming license to Tiverton.

“Tonight we’re here with a clean slate,” said John Taylor, chairman of the Twin River management group's board, said at a town council meeting last night. He brought a set of maps that showed the site the company secured in Tiverton, about 400 feet from the Massachusetts border.

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.

Within four years, the town of Westerly experienced four major storms: the Great Flood of 2010, Hurricane Irene in 2011, Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and the February 2013 Nor’easter. Like many coastal cities and towns around the state, Westerly is also vulnerable to high tides that flood roads even without storms.

State officials hosted a ceremonial signing this afternoon in North Kingstown Town Beach for Rhode Island’s first comprehensive climate change bill. Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the bill into law last month.

The governor noted Wickford Cove experienced a little tsunami last year. He said that’s just one reason why the General Assembly passed this bill into law: to better prepare the state for future extreme weather events.

The U.S. Bureau of Energy Management has awarded Rhode Island $200,000 to identify offshore sand and gravel resources for replenishing beaches. This is part of a federal effort to help coastal communities recover from Superstorm Sandy and prepare for future major storms.