Environment

Five New England governors met yesterday in Hartford, Connecticut, to talk about increasing the region’s energy supply. No solutions are set in stone, but environmental advocates are concerned proposals rely too heavily on natural gas.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said this winter New England’s average wholesale electricity prices were significantly higher than neighboring regions. And those high prices are tough on consumers and businesses. Raimondo said at the regional meeting, the governors committed to provide relief.

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A new pool of money is available for cities and towns looking to reduce their energy use and costs. The state is setting aside more than $500,000 to retrofit existing streetlights to more energy-efficient ones with light-emitting diode (LED) technology.

Marion Gold, commissioner at the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, said streetlights are one of the biggest expenses in a municipality’s energy budget.

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This story is part of our series “Rising Tide” about how – or whether - Rhode Islanders are emerging from the deepest economic recession since the 1930s. The question we’re asking is: Does a rising tide really lift all boats, or are some Rhode Islanders still being left behind?

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Gov. Gina Raimondo will meet with other New England governors in Hartford, Conn., tomorrow to discuss the region’s energy problems.

At a private roundtable, New England governors plan to explore solutions to a number of challenges: the rising prices of electricity, limited pipeline capacity, and the aging electricity grid.

Today is Earth Day and state leaders are awarding $3.3 million dollars in grants to improve water quality in Rhode Island.

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A farm in Warren is the 100th farm in the state to be permanently protected for farming. This marks a milestone for the state’s farmland protection efforts.

  The state considers Lial Acres in Warren an important farm to protect because of its prime soil and its close proximity to other protected farms. The farm also abuts land protected for drinking water quality by the Bristol County Water Authority.

The Lial family currently operates it as a vegetable farm, though previous family generations ran it as a dairy farm. It has been an active farm for 125 years.

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The state’s management plan that zones offshore waters for renewable energy projects is getting an update. The first public meeting for stakeholders is happening Thursday at the University of Rhode Island.

The Ocean Special Area Management Plan, or SAMP for short, is a planning tool that allows the state to balance both the economy and the environment as it pursues offshore energy projects. It includes about 15-hundred square miles of portions of Block Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean.

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration submits its annual fisheries report to Congress Wednesday. By law (the Magnuson-Stevens Act), NOAA Fisheries must report annually on fish populations within 200 miles of the coast. The agency is also tasked with rebuilding depleted stocks.

Last year, NOAA Fisheries brought two fish species, (considered depleted), back up to healthy levels, and removed several others from the overfishing and overfished lists.

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In advance of Earth Day, the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, the agency that runs the Central Landfill, has launched it's annual education campaign focused on recycling. The campaign includes TV and radio spots and a series of web videos on how to recycle properly. 

Sarah Kite, director of recycling services, said workers at the recycling facility continuously find items that don’t belong in there.

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Fishermen are facing tougher quotas and declining populations for some of the most popular fish species, most notably Cod, a New England favorite. That’s one reason why environmentalists and fishermen have been working to promote more locally-caught seafood. Some, like lobster, quahogs, and other shellfish are catching on. But there are other fish that teem the waters of Narragansett Bay. There's one effort underway to raise awareness about scup, an abundant local catch. 

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The state of Rhode Island and a scrap metal recycler have reached an agreement through a court order to address pollution on the Providence waterfront. The state recently sued Rhode Island Recycled Metals for failing to comply with environmental rules. 

  David Chopy, chief of the Department of Environmental Management’s Office of Compliance and Inspection, said the state is concerned that the company doesn’t have enough money to do the required cleanup.

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The state Coastal Resources Management Council has awarded more than $200,000 to nine habitat restoration projects. The projects aim to protect from the impacts of climate change.

These nine habitat restoration projects span a good stretch of the state, from Napatree Point in Westerly to Quicksand Pond in Little Compton and Blackstone Park in Providence.

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A new economic study by a forecasting firm has found that putting a tax on carbon pollution would reduce emissions and create jobs in Rhode Island. That will be the topic of a briefing this afternoon at Brown University.

The scrap metal recycling company on the Providence waterfront that the state is suing for alleged environmental violations, is scheduled to be back in Court later this morning. The Court will issue a few orders.

The state attorney general’s office and the Department of Environmental Management jointly filed a lawsuit against Rhode Island Recycled Metals. These two state agencies are asking the Court to order the company to clean up and recap the scrap metal yard, a former Superfund site.

  Executives in the clean energy sector will meet with lawmakers Tuesday at the statehouse to showcase their growing industry. The event is organized by the New England Clean Energy Council. Coordinator Charity Pennock said many lawmakers lack information about what the clean energy industry does.

“So having people come in who are running businesses, who are doing work in the state, really describe what they’re doing and how they’re both developing their companies and participating in the economy is important,” said Pennock.

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