Rhode Island making progress on next ‘Green Report Card’ but work remains

The Rhode Island State House.
Image credit: Edward Fitzpatrick/Boston Globe

In June, the Environment Council of Rhode Island, which meets every two years to issue a ‘grade’ to the state on its environmental legislation, met to discuss the ‘Green Report Card’ for the General Assembly. The Assembly made several significant strides in this session, much improved from the previous sessions, which hasn’t passed a major piece of legislation on the environment, climate, or energy over the past seven years. A key piece of legislation that passed was the Act on Climate, which makes the state’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions mandatory and enforceable.

Other bills the Assembly passed include a ban on releasing helium balloons, a charge on electric and gas companies to fund programs for energy efficiency and conservation, and the creation of the Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience Fund to restore and improve the climate resilience of wetlands and coastal habitats.

A notable bill that did not pass was a PFAS drinking water regulation, proposed by Representative June Speakman. Opponents cited the unknown cost that would burden drinking water systems to meet a regulatory standard; however, Speakman is hopeful the Biden Administration will pass a federal infrastructure bill to help states with PFAS contamination costs.

Additionally, Alana O’Hare, press secretary for Governor Daniel J. McKee, said the Department of Health has provided an analysis of potential PFAS maximum contamination levels to the governor’s office, and they are “in discussion regarding terms of the levels, plan, timeline, and potential fiscal impact to both the state and municipalities for implementing regulations.”

Read full stories in the Boston Globe and the Providence Journal.