environment

Rhode Island has received $1 million dollars from the Environmental Protection Agency to help clean up local brownfields; areas contaminated by toxic substances.  The money will go toward cleaning up areas in Pawtucket, Central Falls and Providence.  

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Welders have started to build parts for a wind energy facility off the coast of Block Island. It’s on track to be the country’s first offshore wind farm.  State leaders were on hand for the start of construction today (Monday). Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza says they are calling it a great day for Rhode Island and the nation.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

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.

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.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo’s budget proposal includes some new initiatives for the environment, including a larger role for the state’s Clean Water Finance Agency. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison to discuss the environmental impact of the budget.

Flo Jonic

  Lawmakers have put the breaks on legislation that could put trash incineration on the table at the Central Landfill. A committee voted to hold the bill for further study. The bill would remove language in a law that bans the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation from including incineration in its statewide trash management plan. It would also remove any references to the high costs of incineration. This is the latest attempt to remove a ban on trash incineration.

Chris Hunter / Collective Thought Media

The Aquidneck Land Trust has acquired 72 acres of land in Portsmouth to conserve as open space. The Land Trust recently purchased the parcel for $3 million. The scenic property at St. Mary’s Church includes 25 forested acres.

Land trust executive director Chuck Allott said the property at St. Mary’s Church includes forested land that neighbors St. Mary’s Pond, one of Aquidneck Island’s drinking water supplies.  “So it's a very important drinking water, watershed protection parcel and it's also an important habitat property because of that forested land.”

Courtesy Save The Bay

Seals from Maine and the Atlantic Provinces of Canada start migrating to Narragansett Bay in October. But February is one of the best months for seal watching in Narragansett Bay. That’s when the number of migrating seals peaks, ranging between 300-500. 

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

RIPR FILE

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.

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