Ian Donnis / RIPR

With 18 new members in the 113-seat General Assembly, On Politics is offering a periodic look at the latest additions to the House and Senate. We continue with state Representative Lauren Carson (D-Newport), who defeated three-term former Representative Peter Martin in the Democratic primary last September.

Age: 60

Occupation: Environmental policy analyst with Clean Water Action.

Party: Democrat

Twitter: @LaurenHCarson


A new bill introduced at the general assembly could ban the use of plastic bags across the state.  It’s the latest attempt to ban plastic bags in the last several years.

The bill would gradually phase out the use of plastic bags over the course of two years at retail stores such as grocery, and convenience stores.  Over the past three years similar bills have some received public support, but failed in the General Assembly.  

Whitehouse Office

The U.S. Senate passed a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline Thursday.  Rhode Island’s junior Senator Sheldon Whitehouse voted against the bill.

A vocal critic from the start, Whitehouse released a sharp statement following the bill’s passage.  He calls the $8 billion dollar project a “disaster” for health and the environment.   The Keystone project would construct a nearly 12-hundred mile pipeline to carry mainly oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Whitehouse says the project would encourage dependence of fossil fuels, which exacerbate climate change.

Governor-elect Gina Raimondo plans to re-appoint Janet Coit as the director of the state Department of Environmental Management.

“During the past four years, Director Coit proved to be not only a strong advocate for the environment, but a skilled manager of a complex department,” Raimondo said in a statement. “I admire her passion for conserving our natural resources and am thrilled to have her continue her good work as a member of my cabinet.”

Coit's re-appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Dave and Mark talk with Grow Smart Rhode Island executive director Scott Wolf. They discuss the bond measures passed on Election Day and the kinds of jobs they will create once the dollars start flowing.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

On Tuesday, voters will not only vote on candidates running for public office, they will also vote on a series of bond issues--two of them related to the environment. As part of our Rhody Votes ’14 coverage, environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza joined Rhode Island Public Radio Morning Edition Host Elisabeth Harrison to talk about them.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you: news@ripr.org

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island's high unemployment rate is at the top of many voters’ minds this election season. This year’s gubernatorial candidates have offered different ways to create jobs. But the Ocean State’s next governor will also need to tackle a wide range of environmental issues. As part of our Rhody Votes ’14 coverage, Rhode Island Public Radio environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza explores what those issues are.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

On a brilliantly sunny recent day at Oakland Beach in Warwick, waves from Narragansett Bay splash against sea rocks, a few sailboats bob in the distance, and scores of people enjoy the chance to be outside.

But the head of Save The Bay, Jonathan Stone, is thinking about a very different kind of situation at Oakland Beach from the summer of 2013. "This beach was closed for half the summer last year," Stone says, "and it wasn’t closed from pollution from Providence. It was closed because of local pollution, a significant source of which is cesspools."

Gubernatorial candidates Gina Raimondo and Allan Fung have agreed to do a limited number of joint appearances and televised debates before the general election.  A coalition of environmental groups is disappointed its invitation for a debate didn’t make the list.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

About 2,000 volunteers will dedicate their entire morning tomorrow cleaning up beaches around the state as part of the International Coastal Cleanup, which draws about 650,000 volunteers worldwide.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Dave and Mark talk with the CEO of Deepwater Wind Jeff Grybowski. They discuss the five-turbine wind farm’s timeline and how it’s on track to becoming the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse invited world famous marine scientist Sylvia Earle to speak to and inspire local environmental leaders at his fifth annual Energy & Environmental Leaders Day.

For too long we’ve tapped into natural resources thinking they’d always be there, said Earle. She cautioned worldwide our “life support” is collapsing, such as coral reefs, kelp forests, and even the marine plants that produce half of the oxygen in the air we breathe.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Climate change is one of the country’s most serious public health threats, said Gina McCarthy, the head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She spoke to a large crowd of local energy and environmental leaders at an annual conference today hosted by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. 

McCarthy shared one example of a direct public health threat.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island has lost more than half of its salt marsh habitats to erosion and other climate change impacts. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse will tour the Narrow River tomorrow to learn about a new technique to restore eroding shorelines.  

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.