Rhode Island lawmakers showed commendable leadership on groundbreaking environmental bills. That’s according to a green report card issued every two years by the Environment Council of Rhode Island in advance of state primary elections.
The green report card is meant to help inform voters and lawmakers about the environmental record of the General Assembly for the last two legislative sessions.
Channing Jones, lead author of the report card and outgoing policy chair for the council, said the average grade for lawmakers went up from two years ago.
“In the last green report card of 2012, the General Assembly overall earned a B-,” said Jones. “[They were] kind of lackluster years. And then this year's green report card, which again grades 2013 and 2014, the state house of representatives on average earned a B and the state senate earned a B+.”
The grades were based on several factors, including votes and bill sponsorships.
"More Rhode Island lawmakers are connecting the economy and the environment and realizing that keeping Rhode Island beautiful, protecting our state, and keeping our communities resilient in the face of climate change, developing our clean energy economy are consistent with strengthening economic goals."
Jones attributes the higher grades to the passage of landmark environmental bills related to climate change, renewable energy, and food waste. State lawmakers collaborated more with environmental advocates in recent legislative sessions to pass bills to these bills.
"I think the takeaway on this is that we've seen really great progress in 2013-2014,” said Jones.
He said the state saw less progress in terms of protecting our land and water.
“The green report card does reflect some important bills that didn't end up seeing a vote and we hope in the next two years, in 2015-2016, with some new lawmakers coming in and a lot of them likely staying the same, that we will be able to address these issues.”