Rhode Island State House

The Rhode Island Senate on Tuesday, March 22 will host a public conversation focused on several key environmental priorities.

“An Environmental Roundtable Discussion: Renewable Energy, Clean Water & Jobs” will bring together senators, advocates, and others from the community. The discussion will center on proposals to increase Rhode Island’s reliance on renewable energy, protect water resources, and better prepare the state’s workforce for the green jobs these environmental and climate resiliency initiatives create.

The discussion will take place in the Senate Lounge at 3 pm. It will be streamed live by Capitol Television via the General Assembly’s website.

According to a press release from the Rhode Island General Assembly, the conversation will be based around the following package of bills, which include several measures that have been introduced as well as new initiatives currently being drafted and expected to be introduced on Tuesday:

Renewable Energy:

  • The Affordable Clean Energy Security ActS-2583, sponsored by Environment & Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Dawn Euer, aims to move Rhode Island closer to a clean energy future by requiring electric providers to issue a request for proposals for 600 megawatts of new offshore wind capacity by August 2022.
  • 100% Renewable Energy Standard for electricity: This bill, S-2274, which the Senate passed last year, has been reintroduced by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio.
  • $300 million school bond issue: This bill puts a statewide referendum on the November ballot for the next round of school construction funding. The bill includes incentives for green construction: a 5% bonus to the state share when school districts include certain energy efficiency measures in their projects, and a 10% bonus to the state reimbursement rate when they meet the highest standards for energy efficiency. The bill also adds a staff member at the School Building Authority dedicated to green building standards. This proposal, S-2596, is sponsored by Sen. Hanna Gallo.

Water Infrastructure:

  • Replacement of all lead pipes: Legislation is in development to identify and replace all lead pipes, giving priority to communities hardest hit by the presence of lead pipes. This will be sponsored by Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey.
  • Dam safety bills: sponsored by Sen. Susan Sosnowski, three dam safety bills:
    • Establish a fund to pay for dam repairs or replacement (S-2297);
    • Create a dam hazard notification system and allow the Department of Environmental Management to set penalties for noncompliance with dam emergency action plans (S-2295); and
    • Require that building codes account for high-hazard dams (S-2294).
  • PFAS abatement: requires water suppliers to monitor for presence of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The legislation (S-2298) requires establishment of standards and regulation of PFAS in drinking water and groundwater.

Workforce Development:

  • Renewable energy labor standards: This legislation would ensure that larger renewable energy projects utilize labor standards, including apprenticeship utilization. Any project over 2 megawatts receiving public dollars would be subject to these provisions. This bill, which is in development, will be filed by President Ruggerio.
  • Makes the Real Jobs RI program permanent: The effective Real Jobs RI worker training program trains and connects workers with sectors of the workforce where they are needed, such as in the green economy and in the trades, which already have a strong partnership with Real Jobs. Real Jobs RI is a crucial vehicle for fueling the growth of green jobs, many of which are in the trades. This bill, which the Senate passed a version of last year, will be resubmitted by President Ruggerio.
  • Corrosion prevention apprenticeships: This bill calls for the creation of registered apprenticeships for individuals who apply corrosion prevention materials. It would ensure these individuals are credentialed and meet the highest standards, and would apply to all public projects, helping to ensure community resiliency. This program would help ensure the next generation of tradesmen and women will have the skills and certification they need to properly perform corrosion prevention and mitigation. This work ensures the longevity and protection of our state’s infrastructure. The bill, S-2303, is sponsored by Sen. Ana Quezada.

The roundtable discussion will include the bill sponsors and key stakeholders from the public. Participants include:

  • Dawn Euer, Chairwoman, Senate Committee on Environment & Agriculture
  • V. Susan Sosnowski, Chairwoman, Senate Committee on Commerce
  • Dominick J. Ruggerio, President of the Senate
  • Michael J. McCaffrey, Senate Majority Leader
  • Hanna M. Gallo, Senate President Pro Tempore
  • Ana B. Quezada, Deputy Senate Majority Whip
  • Walter S. Felag, Jr., Chairman, Senate Committee on Special Legislation & Veterans’ Affairs
  • Jeremy McDiarmid, Vice President, Policy & Government Affairs, New England Clean Energy Council
  • Priscilla De La Cruz, President, Environmental Council of Rhode Island
  • Steven J. King, Managing Director, Quonset Development Corporation
  • Patrick Crowley, Secretary-Treasurer, RI AFL-CIO
  • Michael Sabitoni, President, Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council
  • Michael Grey, Chairman, Governor’s Workforce Board

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.

He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.