Environment Rhode Island Announces Legislative Priorities for 2012

Media Contacts
Channing Jones

John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Environment Rhode Island

Providence—With Rhode Island’s legislative session underway, the citizen-based environmental advocacy group Environment Rhode Island announced its 2012 legislative agenda.

“It is imperative that we act now to protect the unique natural resources that Rhode Island has to offer,” said John Rumpler, Senior Environmental Attorney for Environment Rhode Island. “We must stand up for clean air, clean water, open spaces, and protection of Narragansett Bay.”

Environment Rhode Island’s main priorities include reducing air pollution and spurring our economy through supporting a plan to reduce Rhode Island’s dependence on petroleum, keeping our waterways clean by banning single use plastic checkout bags, and supporting a suite of environmental policies to preserve open spaces and protect Narragansett Bay. Click here to download a copy of the full legislative agenda.



Environment Rhode Island’s 2012 Legislative Agenda

Get Rhode Island off oil

Our dependence on oil pollutes the air we breathe with smog that causes respiratory problems, especially in the young and elderly; it enriches multinational oil companies and totalitarian regimes while taxing our families at the pump; and it produces more global warming pollution than any other energy source—a threat that is especially profound in Rhode Island, with our miles of coastline and high vulnerability to flooding.

We can do better than continue to depend on this dirty, dangerous, and increasingly expensive energy source.

Environment Rhode Island supports:

• Setting targets and creating a plan to reduce Rhode Island’s consumption of oil by at least 30 percent from 2007 levels by 2030 and by at least 50 percent from 2007 levels by 2050.

• Establishing a sustainable funding mechanism to improve and expand public transit in the state, thereby providing convenient alternatives to driving while ensuring transportation options for the most vulnerable members of our communities.

• Promoting healthy and sustainable transportation alternatives—such as walking, biking, and riding public transit—by requiring the Department of Transportation to incorporate complete streets planning into state road construction projects.

• Facilitating consumer adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles through the creation of an advisory commission on the expansion of electric vehicle infrastructure in the state.

• Reducing the burden of energy waste on Rhode Island families heating their homes with oil by requiring heating oil suppliers to deliver efficiency improvements when they are cost- effective for customers.

• Transitioning to heating oil alternatives through the creation of a renewable energy fund modeled after existing programs for electricity and natural gas.

Keep pollution out of air and water

Rhode Islanders should not have to worry about the quality of the air we breathe or the water we use and drink. However, all too often special interests are permitted to pollute at the expense of the public, endangering the health of our environment and our families.

Environment Rhode Island supports:

• Keeping toxics out of our air and water by protecting the state’s ban on trash incinerators. Rhode Island has long benefited from this ban, and lifting it would allow highly toxic fumes back into our air and water.

• Strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which has successfully reduced power plant pollution and promoted programs to move Rhode Island away from dirty fossil fuels. Strengthening the program will allow it to achieve its full potential and reach the low emissions levels science tells us we need to have safe air and lower greenhouse gas levels.

• Reducing pollution from the transportation sector by implementing a Clean Fuels Standard to bring reductions in transportation fuel emissions.

• Requiring producers to take responsibility for the disposal and recycling of products containing hazardous or toxic materials.

Protect our natural treasures

Not only are Narragansett Bay and our other natural treasures central to the history and identity of Rhode Island, but they provide us with wonderful recreational opportunities—and remain hugely important to our state’s economy.

Rhode Islanders expect and rely on the health of not just the Bay, but other waterways as well as our state’s forests and parks. Yet even as we have come a long way in addressing some of the most visible and historic threats to our state’s wildlife and ecosystems, the challenges of development and growth pose new and increasing dangers. We must do everything possible to protect our state’s greatest treasures.

Environment Rhode Island supports:

• Protecting the wildlife and ecosystem of our ocean coastlines and Narragansett Bay by banning single use plastic bags in retail. Plastic bags are among the most significant sources of litter in marine and other ecosystems, compromising the health and beauty of our state’s most important and iconic natural endowments.

• Reducing the amount of waste ending up in our land and water through the implementation of a redeemable deposit on glass and plastic beverage bottles.

• Keeping nitrogen levels under control by reducing urban fertilizer pollution—a leading threat to water quality in Narragansett Bay and the waters that feed it—through limiting both nutrient content in commercially sold fertilizers and the amount of fertilizer put on the ground by applicators.