U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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.

Courtesy of Narragansett Bay Commission

The board of the Narragansett Bay Commission has voted to move forward with the final phase of a water quality project designed to overhaul its old sewer systems. The wastewater agency is struggling with how much it will cost to complete the project, aimed at further improving water quality in Narragansett Bay.

The Narragansett Bay Commission’s third and final phase of a multi-year water quality project will cost about $815 million, if state and federal regulators approve the plan. This final phase could bring the project's total cost to about $1.5 billion.

The project, known as the combined sewer overflow (CSO) project, involves installing a large tunnel that would run through Pawtucket, Central Falls and the northern part of East Providence. The tunnel would stop untreated sewage and stormwater from overflowing into Narragansett Bay during heavy rainstorms.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Just this week, the U.S. Senate went on the record that climate change exists. Local and state officials in Rhode Island haven’t been waiting around to take the lead from Washington. They not only know climate change is real, but they’re also planning for its impacts. As part of our Battle With The Sea series, Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza went on a tour with the Environmental Protection Agency’s northeast director to see how plans are in place.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received four million comments for its trio of federal rules proposing to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. This is why the EPA will miss a deadline this month to finalize one of those plans. Now the agency will finalize those rules all at once in the mid-summer.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management submitted comments, encouraging the EPA to continue recognizing existing efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

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