Environment Council of Rhode Island

...building an ecologically healthy future in a sustainable economy

2009-2010 Green Report Card

2009-2010 RI General Assembly Green Report Card Summary

The Rhode Island General Assembly receives a “B-” for its handling of environmental issues during the 2009-2010 legislative session.

The Environment Council of Rhode Island’s biannual Green Report Card evaluates the environmental voting records of General Assembly members on ECRI priority bills during the 2009-2010 legislative session.

This report card covers a broad range of environmental issues reflecting the diverse interests of our 60 member organizations including: clean air, clean water, protecting open space lands, clean and renewable energy, wildlife habitat, sustainable land use, transportation, toxic chemicals and open accountable governance.

Also see related reports (linked below) on Governor Carcieri's environmental record and on the Deepwater debacle.

Highlights of the 2009-2010 legislative session’s environmental victories are listed below with their Senate and House sponsors:

  • The Water Use and Efficiency Act will promote water conservation and efficiency to protect natural resources and promote economic development. (Sosnowski, Ferri)
  • The Mercury Thermostat Pollution Prevention Act will require thermostat manufacturers to finance the collection and recycling of old mercury thermostats. This bill will prevent the release of over 100 pounds of mercury from old thermostats each year. (Ruggerio, Malik)
  • The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act will begin a requirement for major state construction projects to significantly reduce diesel emissions. Rhode Island has some of the most polluted air in the country, ranking in the worst 10% of all states for health risks caused by diesel pollution. (Miller, Sullivan)
  • The Study Commission on Sustainable Transportation Funding will recommend strategies to develop and implement new funding sources for the Department of Transportation and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. (Connors)
  • The Climate Risk Reduction Act will establish the creation of the Rhode Island Climate Change Commission to review the climate change risks Rhode Island faces and make recommendations for strategies to adapt. Regrettably, provisions that would have given Rhode Islanders the “right to dry” and eased restrictive covenants that exist for some residential scale renewable energy resources were removed from the bill. Looking forward, these issues must be successfully embodied in new legislation. (Miller, Segal)
  • The General Assembly requested that the Department of Environmental Management study and develop recommendations for a comprehensive product stewardship approach to solid waste issues in Rhode Island — expanding manufacturers' role in collecting and recycling the products they put into the market. The resulting report will be the basis for legislation to be introduced in the coming session. (Walsh)
  • A 2009 bill requiring Long Term Contracts for Renewable Energy directed National Grid to procure a specific percentage of their electricity through long term contracts for renewable energy that would help businesses secure the necessary financing. (Miller, Fox)