The Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI) released its biennial Green Report Card on Monday. The report highlights critical environmental issues that were considered by Rhode Island state legislators during the 2017 and 2018 sessions. The report issues letter grades to individual General Assembly members based on bill votes and sponsorships. Overall, the Rhode Island Senate scored a C- and the Rhode Island House of Representatives scored a C+. The report also qualitatively evaluates Governor Gina Raimondo, writing:
“Overall, Governor Raimondo took more action on environmental issues during the second half of her term than she did in the first two years. She has taken actions to prepare Rhode Island for climate change, reduce carbon emissions, decrease plastic pollution, and provide resources to municipalities to protect parks and open space and expand the state’s bike path network. She also came out strongly against the Trump administration’s plan to open up New England coastal waters to offshore drilling and opposed efforts to make biomass eligible for net metering incentives. But she did fail to square her support for the Burrillville power plant and neutrality on National Grid’s LNG facility with her climate goals. Her administration has also been lackadaisical about appointing members to the Water Resources Board, and she faced harsh criticism when she did not renew the terms of three environmentalists on the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) board, appointing instead new members with dubious qualifications.”
“The ECRI Green Report Card has served as a benchmark for environmental voters in Rhode Island for many years,” explained Johnathan Berard, ECRI’s Vice President of Policy. “It recognizes the efforts of the true environmental champions that serve in the State House and provides both a look back on the policy accomplishments of the previous two years and a glimpse at the immediate priorities for the environmental community.”
The bills in the report card include a range of topics, including land and water conservation, waste and plastic pollution, toxics, transportation, and—most urgently—climate change. ECRI member organizations actively lobbied and organized to advance or defeat related pieces of legislation. The report card reaffirms ECRI’s continued opposition to the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure in Burrillville and at the Port of Providence while pushing for measures that would lead to deep, economy-wide emissions reductions, like the Energize Rhode Island carbon pricing bill and the Global Warming Solutions Act. Although the impacts of climate change are quickly becoming more apparent, the General Assembly largely failed to act on these policies or other measures that would safeguard Rhode Islanders from the effects of global warming and sea level rise.
The environmental community looks forward to tomorrow’s Election Day, which offers Rhode Islanders a chance to vote for candidates that have committed to protecting the environment and fighting climate change. The ballot also includes the Green Economy and Clean Water Bond that invests in water quality, land cleanup, farmland, recreational facilities, and open space to ensure our state’s beauty and health for today’s communities and future generations.
“Rhode Island voters have a long history of overwhelmingly approving investments in clean water, open space, and natural resources,” said Berard. “Beyond just improving quality of life in our state, these bond measures also help our communities become more resilient in the face of climate change.”
Lawmakers can expect to see ECRI and its member organizations continue to advocate for the sustainability of Rhode Island and urgent climate action. The environmental community stands by the evaluations in the Green Report Card. We encourage legislators, old and new, to review the Green Report Card and take note of ECRI’s evaluation of their environmental legislative efforts.
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