Legislation sponsored by Rep. Michelle E. McGaw would require the state’s Energy Facility Siting Board to deny applications for power plants that would have adverse effects on Rhode Island’s ability to meet its carbon-emissions-reduction goals.

“We set carbon reduction goals in state law because there is a climate crisis, one that is directly impacting our own state. Any new power plant would, of course, have a tremendous and decades-long impact on our state’s carbon output. If we are serious about the goals we’ve set to reduce carbon emissions in our state — and it is critical that we are —any new power plant proposal allowed here must be designed to help us meet those goals,” said Representative McGaw (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton) in a statement included in a press release that was provided by the Rhode Island General Assembly.

The bill would require all applicants to include detailed, specific information about the effect their proposal would have on the state’s carbon-reduction goals. It would prohibit the board from approving any applications that would negatively affect the state’s effort to meet them.

Besides preventing proposals that would pollute, Representative McGaw said, the change could also encourage greater effectiveness among renewable generation proposals, and could even result in the board asking some applicants to do more to make a more positive impact.

“The Energy Facility Siting Board is the gatekeeper in determining the future of the power we generate and use in Rhode Island. There is no question that we need it to be part of the state’s efforts to reduce carbon,” she said.

The legislation (2021-H 5279), which was the first piece of legislation introduced by the freshman representative, had a hearing March 4 before the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which held it for further study. Among its cosponsors are Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown), Rep. Susan R. Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), Rep. David Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence), Rep. Brandon C. Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston), Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), Rep. Brianna E. Henries (D-Dist. 64, East Providence) and Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol). Companion legislation (2021-S 0127) has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeanine Calkin (D-Dist.30, Warwick).

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.