Environment

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Earlier this spring, we brought you a report from our series Battle With The Sea about the impact of climate change on Aquidneck Island's drinking water with warmer temperatures, heavier rains, and more intense storms. But there’s more to the story. We pick up where we left off.

Matt Gineo / RIPR

Three groups on Aquidneck Island have kicked off a pilot program to remove debris from Newport Harbor.

Clean Ocean Access executive director Dave McLaughlin said the first of several summer cleanups takes place next week in partnership with Newport Maritime Alliance and the Newport Waterfront Commission.

“We’re going to get two divers in the water and we’re going to clean a portion of the submerged debris on the harbor floor,” said McLaughlin. “It’s going to provide a baseline of what do we see from the surface and what did we find on the floor when we got down there.”

RIPR FILE

The City of Providence has rolled out a new initiative to implement the city’s sustainability plan, aimed at reducing the effects of climate change. The initiative has a strong focus on community outreach.


National Grid has filed an application (PDF) with the federal government to add facilities to its existing liquefied natural gas storage property in Providence.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island is in the midst of the most dangerous tick-season of the year. University of Rhode Island researchers say there are more of the insects this year than last year. The arachnids are most prevalent in May, but URI tick specialist Tom Mather, says mid-summer carries the highest risk.

“What we face now is a dangerous period, which is when nymphal-stage deer ticks are active, and these are ticks that are the size of poppy seeds, and they are loaded with pathogens,” said Mather.

Mike Cohea / Photo Courtesy of Brown University

A Brown University professor has joined a team of scientists from four European countries to study how plant reproduction has evolved. This research could ultimately help improve crop yields in light of climate change and a rapidly growing population.

Audio Pending...

Ryan von Linden / flickr/New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Rhode Island researchers have received $500,000 in federal grant money to investigate a fungus that’s killing native bats. The mysterious illness has attacked bats across North America.

Over the last decade, biologists believe an illness known as white-nose syndrome has killed some six-million bats in North America. The fungus appears on the bat’s muzzle. It targets hibernating bats, causing serious infections on their wings, and bodies.

RIPR FILE

The New England Fishery Management Council made the right move recently, voting to ask the federal government to suspend an at-sea monitoring program required of the groundfish industry, according to long-time fisherman Fred Mattera, who said shifting the cost to fishermen could decimate the industry.

Mattera, who was a commercial fisherman for 40 years, said fishermen already have to deal with quota cutbacks and depressed prices for locally caught fish. 

Photo Courtesy of St. Michael's Country Day School

The bill to make the American burying beetle the official state insect heads to the governor’s desk. This was the result of steady lobbying by third graders in Newport.

  

RIPR File Photo

The New England Fishery Management Council plans to ask the federal government to suspend an at-sea monitoring program required of the region’s groundfish industry.  The council voted this week to send that request to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA Fisheries requires that one out of every five fishing trips has a human being monitoring catch. At-sea monitors collect data on catch, bycatch, and fish thrown back to sea.

Beginning late August, NOAA Fisheries will no longer be able to pay for at-sea monitors.

The bill that requires phasing out cesspools heads to the governor’s office, after the Senate and House passed it.  It will take effect January 1, 2016.

Homeowners who are selling their property or transferring ownership have 12 months within the date of sale or transfer to remove and replace their cesspools.  

Low-interest loans and hardship waivers will be available for low-income property owners or purchasers. 

This post has been updated.

The Texas-based pipeline company Spectra Energy has secured a permit from the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to upgrade its compressor station in Burrillville. The upgrade is part of a pipeline expansion project to bring more natural gas to New England and ease the region’s energy crisis, according to the company.

Providence college professor Tony Affigne, who chairs the Green Party of Rhode Island, said he’s disappointed state officials did not conduct a more comprehensive review of the project.

By law, the Coastal Resources Management Council should have two hearing officers to oversee contested cases. But the agency has gone without a full-time hearing officer for more than 10 years.

  The state’s largest environmental advocacy group, Save The Bay, has called on Gov. Gina Raimondo to appoint at least one full-time hearing officer to the CRMC.

U.S. Geological Survey

The New England Fishery Management Council has reduced protections of highly sensitive areas in Georges Bank, on the continental shelf east of Cape Cod, and opened it to commercial scalloping. The vote comes after a 12-year-review of habitat protection measures in the Omnibus Habitat Amendment.

Approximately 10,000 square kilometers on Georges Bank, an important fishery area for Rhode Island fishermen, have been protected from fishing for more than 20 years.

John Bender / RIPR

Over the years, the state has slashed budgets across all government agencies, including the Department of Environmental Management. This agency, tasked with protecting the environment, has seen a decline in staffing. Environmental advocates say these cuts have weakened and slowed enforcing environmental laws and regulations.   

Earlier this year, residents packed a small room at the Statehouse for a hearing about a zoning bill. They complained to lawmakers about industrial pollution from a quarry in Westerly. Residents blame the DEM for poor monitoring and enforcement.

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