ECRI's Environmental Report Cards Handed Out: Some Lawmakers Need to Study More

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — Environmental report cards are in for the 2017 and 2018 sessions of the General Assembly and for Gov. Gina Raimondo, with plenty of As and Fs to go around.

Raimondo didn’t receive a letter grade but was critiqued on climate change, energy, land use, pollution, transportation, and public health.

In the biennial report by the Environmental Council of Rhode Island (ECRI), Raimondo was criticized for maintaining her support of the proposed Burrillville fossil-fuel power plant and staying quiet on the proposed liquified natural gas project at the Port of Providence. She was rebuked for replacing three environmentalists on the Coastal Resources Management Council and for not filling seats on the state Water Resources Board. Raimondo’s appointees at the Public Utilities Commission were also admonished for watering down a plan to transform the state’s energy sector.

Overall, ECRI concluded that Raimondo’s second two years were better for the environment than the first two. She was applauded for her work on climate-change resiliency and adaption, which included the appointment of a chief resiliency officer. She was praised for executive orders, such as creating a task force to reduce plastic pollution and another to adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement. Although it was also noted that she and the General Assembly have yet to enact enforceable emissions-reduction targets.

Renewable energy was also a bright spot for the governor, as she established goals, albeit unenforceable ones, for increasing renewable power in Rhode Island. The report also gave her credit for opposing offshore oil and gas drilling.

In the Senate, there were no A-plus grades awarded, but there were five As and four Fs issued. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio earned a C. The Senate as a whole received a C-.

The House of Representative received an overall grade of C+. There were 14 As and 13 Fs. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello received a B.

Democrats received most of the As, while Republicans earned most of the Fs. Exceptions include Fs for Democrats Robert Jacquard of Cranston, Kenneth Marshall of Bristol, and Jared Nunes of Coventry.

In 2015-2016 report card the Senate received a C and the House a C+.