Environment

Senate hears two of three proposed Green New Deal bills

Here’s the video of the testimony and the reactions of Senators.

Rhode Island News: Senate hears two of three proposed Green New Deal bills

March 16, 2021, 5:13 pm

By Steve Ahlquist

Over 100 people called into the Rhode Island Judiciary hearing on Monday evening to testify in favor of two bills that seek to bring key elements of the Green New Deal to Rhode Island. According to Renew RI, a coalition in support of these bills, this number doesn’t include “the dozens of people who signed up and waited for five hours but were never called, or were hung up on, or were refused the right to testify.”

The first bill introduced was sponsored by Senator Jonathan Acosta (Democrat, District 16, Central Falls) and if passed would “create the Housing Jobs Department and a series of other initiatives designed to create jobs in housing construction, specifically affordable and low income housing, green and solar energy jobs and programs for low income individuals.” After Senator Acosta introduced his bill, he was immediately confronted with concerns from conservative Senators Gordon Rogers (Republican, District 21, Coventry, Foster Scituate, West Greenwich) and Frank Lombardi (Democrat, District 26, Cranston).

RI Senator Acosta Introduces a Bill to Create Green Jobs Building Solar Energy and Housing in RI

The second bill introduced was sponsored by Senator Tiara Mack (Democrat, District 6, Providence) and upon passage would “would establish the first Green Justice Zone, a model that may be replicated in future years to ensure that all communities throughout the state have clean air and clean water.” Green Justice Zones would be a powerful tool in dealing with the environmental racism that has been inflicted on poor BIPOC communities in Providence for generations.

RI Senator Mack Introduces a Bill to Establish a Green Justice Zone in Rhode Island

The testimony and the reactions of Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Cynthia Armour Coyne (Democrat, District 32, Barrington) and Vice Chair Stephen Archambault (Democrat, District 22, Smithfield, Johnston, North Providence) was sometimes combative. When those testifying said that they would work politically to oust elected officials who stand against the legislation, they were cut off or chided for making “threats.” Chair Coyne frequently cut people off who tried to make this point, not allowing them the three minutes they were promised for their testimony.

It was earlier in the evening, while the Committee was hearing testimony on a bill by Senator Jeanine Calkin (Democrat, District 30, Warwick) to make the Energy Facilities Siting Board more accountable to environmental concerns that Vice Chair Archambault first objected to being challenged politically during public comment.

“Over the years of hearing testimony up here, whenever somebody adds that comment at the end that ‘if you don’t vote for the bill we’re going to run against you’ it falls off deaf ears with me,” said Archambault. “I’m not here to submit to anyone’s pressure. I listen to everything objectively, give it my finest discernment, and make my decision. And I actually resent the fact that those comments are made. I don’t like it. I’m sure all my colleagues don’t either. Just my two cents. I don’t want a response. We weigh things as they come and we do our best. We’re all human up here. You want to run against me, run against me. I’ve been dealing with that since the beginning of time.”

RI Senator Archambault Says He Doesn't Like Being Told That People Will Run for Office Against Him

Below is the start of the testimony, more will be added as I complete the videos:

Joshua Notes That Children in South Providence Are Frequently Sent to the Emergency Room for Asthma

Senator Cynthia Mendes (Democrat, District 18, East Providence) testified in strong support.

RI Senator Mendes Says Some Environmental Advocates Are Celebrating Half-Measures

Here, RI resident Arden is cut off by Chair Coyne, despite saying that she was not yet finished with her testimony.

Person Says Green New Deal Bills Are the Most Important Bills In a Long Time

Cut off by Chair Coyne:

Camilla Says She Talked to 1,000 People in RI About These Bills and Later Senator Coyne Cuts Her Off

Joseph Says South Providence Industrial Facilities Are Actively Hurting Residents

Tyler Says He Grew Up Constantly Worried That His Mother Wouldn't Be Able to Afford Rent Increases

Chair Coyne cuts off the speaker:

Nina Says South Providence Youth Want Clean Places to Grow Food and Later Senator Coyne Cuts Her Off

Chair Coyne cuts off testimony:

Emma Says Approving LNG in Providence Was Environmental Racism and Later Senator Coyne Cuts Her Off

Chair Coyne didn’t get a chance to cut the person testifying off because she ended fast:

Kaylynn Says She'll Support Challengers to Senators Who Don't Support Green New Deal Bills

Chair Coyne cuts of the speaker:

Marco Says South Providence Pollution Caused His Friends Asthma and Later Senator Coyne Cuts Him Off
Meko Says Green New Deal Bills Are Well-Researched and a Clear Solution to Climate Change in RI

Chair Coyne begins to cut of the speaker:

Ian Says Green New Deal Bills Allow RI Communities to Directly Decide How to Spend Their Money

Spenser Reed pushed back against those testifying being cut off. “I don’t appreciate being silenced. I don’t appreciate the silencing of other people who are here to testify, to bare their souls, and to advocate for their communities.” Spenser Reed was thanked by Chair Coyne for his “passionate” testimony and disconnected.

RI Senator Coyne Cuts Off Spencer While He Says That It's Time for Rhode Islanders to Pick a Side

Testimony from a representative of the Rhode Island Coalition of Housing Providers:

RI Coalition of Housing Providers Says People Can Escape Poverty by Becoming Other People's Landlord

As soon as Senator Lombardi was mentioned, Chair Coyne interrupted and ultimately shut down the speaker, who was struggling with tears.

https://youtu.be/k-5L6J5Fpl4

Chair Coyne cut the speaker off

Evelyn Says That the Kids Younger Than Her Will Continue Standing Up to People in Power

The speaker was cut off as soon as they mentioned elections:

AJ Says He's Disappointed That Senators Keep Cutting People Off During Their Testimony

“Finally, I had planned on thanking you for your time but I will end by saying that I am extremely disappointed to hear you cutting off previous speakers.”

Jamie Says Working Within the Political System Is Not Producing Powerful Climate Laws

Senator Archambault too over the committee hearing, and did not cut off the speaker when they mentioned elections.

Shanna Says She's Tired of Band-Aid Solutions for Poverty and Wants to Build Housing and Create Jobs

“I’ve seen how scared you are, because you keep cutting off people’s microphones,” said Rachel Baker.

Rachael Says Green New Deal Bills Will Pass Eventually So RI Politicians Should Support Them Now

David Veliz, from the Sierra Club:

RI Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty Director Says Bills Unite Fights for Climate and Housing

A business owner opposed to many of the housing bill’s provisions:

Steve Says Green New Deal Bill Uses Untrustworthy Language and Will Fail to Achieve Its Goals

As soon as the speaker mentioned Senator Dawn Euer, Senator Archambault cut her off, quoting Robert Frost. He equated running a democratic campaign to unseat an incumbent senator to making “personal threats.”

Ilana Compares Climate Refugees to Homeless People in RI and Later Senator Archambault Cuts Her Off

Things hit the boiling point with this speaker, who asked that their comments be heard and that their full three minutes of testimony be given to them. Speaking of their experience with asthma, the speaker said, “it’s threatening my own fucking life.” This was too much for Vice Chair Archambault, who cut the speaker off and admonished their use of language. “You want to swear we’re going to cut you right off,” said Vice Chair Archambault.

Dan Says Submarine Fire Exposed Him to Pollutants and Later RI Senator Archambault Cuts Him Off

Reverend DJ Helfer:

Reverend DL Says Rhode Island Appeared to Be Perfect but She Learned About the Deep Systemic Issues

Speaking about the kinds of candidates they might support in the future was almost enough to get the speaker cut off by returning Chair Coyne.

Jeffrey Says Decades of Evictions and Blatant Racism Eliminated Providence's Chinatown 100 Years Ago

Pawtucket resident Wendy Oliver:

Wendy Says Green New Deal Bills Will Help Close Big Homeless Encampment Along the River in Pawtucket

Tarshire Says RI Building Housing is a Better Solution Than Buying Hotel Rooms for Houseless People

Person Says Rhode Island Doesn't Have a Strong Department for Affordable Housing and Development

Donald Says His Children Will Be Growing Up in a Less Healthy World Than He Did

31

Lily Says South Providence Residents Are at Risk of Being Victims of Future Climate Disasters

32

Portsmouth Town Councilor Ujifusa Says Towns Don't Have the Money to Create Affordable Housing

33

Greta Notes That a Rhode Islander Needs to Work 80 Hours to Afford a 1 Bedroom Apartment

34

Ms. Bailey Says Politicians Who Say They Support Climate Justice But Not These Bills Are Lying

35

Kathy Says She Struggled to Find Housing for a Refugee Family Whose Toddler Had Elevated Lead Levels

36

Alex Says Woonsocket Has Been Left Behind by City and State Politicians

37

Michaela Says Green New Deal Bills Will Protect Providence from Environmental Destruction

38

Morgan Notes That 70% of Rhode Island Houses Have the Potentional for Lead Exposure

39

Evan Says Rhode Islanders Are Denying Fellow Humans the 4 Basic Things an Organism Needs to Live

40

Kathryn Says the Section 8 Housing in Newport Is Nice and RI Should Build More Affordable Housing

41

Person Says Green New Deal Bills Will Stop Landlords from Cancelling Leases to Give Houses to Family

42

Catherine Says Expensive Housing in Newport Will Cause People to Move to Other Communities

43

Person Says Green New Deal Bills Will Take Power Away from Female Landlords

44

Gregory Says He Should Be Entitled to Evict Renters Who Are Loud or Use Drugs Without Just Cause

45

Mr. Santos Says No Other State Has Renter Protections Like In Proposed RI Green New Deal Bills

46

Etienne Says Stronger Renter Protections Will Harm Landlords

47

Neil Says Green New Deal Bill Will Stop Him from Deciding Who Lives in His Building

48

Nicole Says Governor Gina Raimondo Suppressed Information to Enable LNG Facility in South Providence

49

Mika Says a Subsidized Housing Project in Tiverton Has Produced a Vibrant Family Community

50

David Says It's Good Long Term Economics to Invest in Community Infrastructure and Sustainability

51

Mr. Bishop Says Green New Deal Bills Are About "Rainbows and Unicorns" and Will Create Union Jobs

52

Mr. Conti Says Increased Renter Protections Will Put Some Landlords Out of Business

53

Ben Says It Was Cold and Rained While He Was Homeless and Believes No One Should Experience That

54

Zuber Says Young People Shouldn't Have to Avoid Having Kids Due to Older Generations Climate Failure

55

Lisa Notes That RI Is the Only New England State Without a Dedicated Fund for Affordable Housing

56

Jacob Says Providence Is Almost As Expensive as Boston and Michael Says Take Action, No More Studies

57

College Democrats of RI Say Graduates Will Only Stay If They Can Find Careers and Raise Families

58

Greg Says Rhode Island Needs to Take Drastic and Dramatic Action to Confront Climate Change

59

Devon Says RI Senator Euer Refuses to Talk to South Providence Residents Affected by Pollution

60

Nate Notes That 1,500 RI Public School Students Experience Homelessness Every Year

61

RI Senator Archambault Says Carter's Testimony Is "Forcing Senators to Submit to... Individuals"

62

Tom Says Allowing Pollution for Corporate Profit Is Decreasing the Quality of Life in Rhode Island

63

George Says Large Non-Profits Are Not Solving Homelessness but Building Housing Will

64

Livy Says She Campaigned for Pro-Green New Deal RI Candidates in 90 Degree Weather During Pandemic

65

Jacob Says White RI Democrats Who Said Black Lives Matter Must Support Green New Deal Bills

66

Will Says a Lot of RI Housing Hasn't Been Updated for 100 Years and Bills Would Keep People Here

67

Francis Notes That Young People Perform Better in School When They Have Stable Housing

68

Stacy Says Providence Can Be in the National Headlines If RI Paves the Way for Climate Innovation

69

Miranda Says She Pays Over 50% of Her Income on Rent Despite Having 2 Roommates

70

Eugenie Says She Supports Green New Deal Bills Because She Has Asthma

71

Terri Says Biden's Slogan Build Back Better Means Cleaning the Air and Ending Homelessness

72

Person Says Her Client is Living in an Apartment with Mold Because They're on the Section 8 Waitlist

73

Clara Says Housing Projects in Rhode Island Are Noisy and Giving People Asthma

74

Jeanine Says Green New Deal Bills Would Create Carpentry Jobs and Clean Up the Port of Providence

75

Person Says Green New Deal Bills Will Negatively Affect Rhode Island Landlords

76

Person Says Homeowners Are Struggling and Bill to Create New Housing and Jobs Will Not Help

77

Nathan Says He Will Help Politicians Who Vote for Green New Deal Bills and Challenge Ones Who Don't

78

Lily Says Working to Remove Politicians Who Ignore Your Demands Is Normal and Not a Personal Threat

79

Juan and Monica Say Their Soil in Providence Is So Polluted That They Can't Grow Food

80

Stephanie Says Green New Deal Bills Will Make It Harder for Landlords to Evict Renters

81

Anita Says RI's Green New Deal Bills Will Help Leave a Better World for Her Children

82

Enrique Says the Covid-19 Crisis Shows That Rhode Island Needs a Green New Deal

83

Amelia Says Addressing Poverty and Environmental Racism Will Allow Her to Raise a Family in RI

84

Emily Says Her First Rhode Island Apartment Had Rodents, Broken Appliances, and No Insulation

85

Timothy Says He Lived in His Car as a Youth After His Deaf Parents Lost Their Home

86

Pamela Says Green New Deal Bills Will Make Rhode Island Richer and Safer

87

Gregory Acknowledges Native Land and Says Politicians Are Threatening Future Children with Inaction

88

Cranston Resident Says Green New Deal Bills Would Help Rhode Islanders Own Homes and Get Jobs

89

Taylor Notes That Suburban and Rural Towns in RI Don't Have Minimum Required Affordable Housing

90

Susan Says People in South Providence Should Not Have to Breathe Dirty Air Every Day


91

David Says People Living on the Street in His Neighborhood Deserve Houses

92

Jen Says Green New Deal Bills Will Help Prepare for Future Threats Like Disease and Natural Disaster

93

Pawtucket Resident Says RI Should Build Affordable Housing Instead of Tidewater Landing Project

94

Angel Says He Rarely Supports New Laws but Green New Deal Bills Will Help Providence

95

Ralph Says His Working Class Parents Were Able to Own a Home and Everyone Should Have Access to That

96

Ben Tells a Recent Story About a Providence Child Who Couldn't Return to School Due to Severe Asthma

97

Natalie Says RI Politicians Who Support 2021 Act on Climate Must Also Support Green New Deal Bills

98

Arianna Says Youth Across 10 Rhode Island High Schools Support the Green New Deal Bills

99

Zanagee Says Green New Deal Bills Will Help Stop People from Leaving RI Due to Bad Living Conditions

100

Anne Says Encouraging Civic Engagement in Diverse Communities Produces Prosperity

101

Brianna Says She Doesn't Like Living in a State That Is Poisoning Poor Children in Providence

102

Chris Says He Is Competing with Hundreds of People for Each Apartment He Looks At

103

Hana Says Providence Submarine Fire is One Example of Environmental Racism in Rhode Island

104

Eli Says Green New Deal Bills Will Honor Their Father's Advocacy for Narragansett Bay

105

Camila Notes That Almost 25% of Rhode Islanders Pay More Than 50% of Their Income on Rent

106

Ellen Says Presenting Science to Politicians Hasn't Convinced Them to Stop Pollution in Providence

107

Arthur Says Bills Would Create More Carpentry Work and Address the Effect of Hazardous Waste in RI

108

Person Says He Can't Bike to Work Because the Air in Providence Is So Polluted

109

Madison Says All RI Communities Should Experience Good Health and Wealth Like Barrington Does

110

Person Says the Proposed Process for Restoring Polluted Areas Will Benefit Providence

111

Person Says RI's Bad Economy is an Opportunity for Powerful Climate and Economic Programs