Environment

Money from the state’s successful air pollution lawsuit used to plant trees in the Port

The settlement money for the Port area is being put towards planting approximately 170 trees. The Washington Park neighborhood surrounding the Port of Providence is in desperate need of trees. In addition to the lowest number of trees in any neighborhood in Providence, the area also, and not coincidentally, has the highest incident of asthma in the state.
Photo for Money from the state’s successful air pollution lawsuit used to plant trees in the Port

Published on November 3, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha and Terrance Gray, who heads up Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM) were at the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex Wednesday morning working with two science classes of high school students to plant trees. The money to plant the trees comes from a settlement the Attorney General’s office, in cooperation with DEM and the Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 (EPA) reached with SIMS Metal Management, a metal shredding facility in Johnston, Rhode Island, for violations of the Clean Air Act. (See here for more on that settlement.)

Under the terms of a consent judgment, Sims agreed to install equipment to control the release of pollution that may be linked to cancer and severe respiratory illnesses and pay the largest penalty ever assessed by the state for violations of the Rhode Island Clean Air Act.

In addition to paying a total penalty of $875,000 to the State (with a potential $1,125,000 in additional penalties), Sims is required to pay $325,000 to fund Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) in Johnston and Providence: $200,000 to fund a project aimed at offsetting air pollution issues in the Town of Johnston and $125,000 to address air pollution issues in the Port of Providence, where Sims Metal Management owns and operates another facility.

AG Neronha planting trees

The settlement money for the Port area is being put towards planting approximately 170 trees. The Washington Park neighborhood surrounding the Port of Providence is in desperate need of trees. In addition to the lowest number of trees in any neighborhood in Providence, the area also, and not coincidentally, has the highest incident of asthma in the state.

Recently Lamar Advertising illegally clear-cut over 100 trees in the Washington Park neighborhood and has yet to be fined or begin any form of restitution.

“We’re going to be seeing a lot more tree planting and tree equity in Providence,” said Cassie Tharinger from the Providence Neighborhood Planting Program, one of two groups helping to coordinate today’s tree planting, along with Groundwork Rhode Island.

Did you enjoy this article?


More Environment Coverage