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4/10/2021 Act on Climate signed into law
NEWPORT, RI – The 2021 Act on Climate, legislation sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer and Rep. Lauren H. Carson to update Rhode Island’s climate-emission reduction goals and make them enforceable, was signed into law today. House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and the sponsors today joined Governor Dan McKee, Attorney General Peter Neronha and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner for the signing of the bill, which will position the state to boldly address climate change and prepare for a global economy that will be shifting to adapt to clean technology.

“I am immensely proud to celebrate the enactment of this landmark environmental legislation, and grateful to my colleagues in the General Assembly, the vast majority of whom enthusiastically supported it. Here in the Ocean State, and particularly in my home city of Warwick, we suffer the effects of rising seas and increasingly intense storm surges that regularly damage homes, businesses and infrastructure. Rhode Island must join the global effort to address the climate crisis, and will directly benefit in many ways, not the least of which will be job creation in green industries. The Act on Climate puts Rhode Island on a path to a sustainable and prosperous future,” said House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick).

The legislation (2021-S 0078A2021-H 5445A) is one of the most influential environmental bills approved by the General Assembly in decades, aimed at addressing climate change and ensuring the state is prepared for an economy that will be shifting nationwide and worldwide to adapt to clean technology.

“The Act on Climate is a plan to move with the urgency we need to stop pollution and use the clean technology and power sources that become more available and affordable every year. Its goals are totally achievable, and have the benefit of shifting energy dollars away from fossil fuels produced elsewhere to clean energy that can be produced here in Rhode Island. Just as Samuel Slater harnessed the power of the Blackstone River to launch the American Industrial Revolution, Rhode Island can once again use renewable power to lead the way as we address the urgent climate change crisis,” said Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence).

Under the Act on Climate, the state will develop a plan to incrementally reduce climate emissions to net-zero by 2050. The plan will be updated every 5 years and will address areas such as environmental injustices, public health inequities and a fair employment transition as fossil-fuel jobs are replaced by green energy jobs. Rhode Island joins other states, including Massachusetts, New York and Maine, in enacting significant climate legislation in the past few years aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a low carbon economy. 

The sponsors emphasized that, besides being an imperative for human survival, reducing carbon emissions also creates a wealth of new economic opportunities for Rhode Island – opportunities that the state is already well-positioned to capitalize upon.

“The Act on Climate represents a strong commitment to the long-term health of our planet, as well as economic opportunity for our state. With this act, we are jumping to the leading edge of those states and nations that are changing the landscape of power generation. The Ocean State, which is already home to the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm, is well-positioned for explosive growth in the green economy, and this commitment will fuel the creation of green jobs and clean industry, and help drive down the costs of environmentally sound technology. It’s exciting to make a commitment that will have such positive and profound environmental and economic effects for our state,” said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown),  who is the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee chairwoman.

“The climate crisis is an enormously important issue to Rhode Islanders, and the Act on Climate finally takes decisive action to address it. Rhode Island will now at last create specific, evolving, science-backed plans to wind down carbon output and ramp up renewables, with public input, environmental justice and accountability. The extent to which our climate continues to change is within our control, and I am so proud that the Ocean State is standing among the leaders of the world in making this commitment to our planet and to future generations,” said RepresentativeCarson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).

The bill, which won final approval by the General Assembly Tuesday, was signed at Bowen's Wharf in Newport, an area that has been significantly impacted by rising sea levels.

“With four hundred miles of coastline, urban and rural coastal communities, fishing and agricultural industries, the Ocean State is on the frontlines of the climate crisis,” said Governor McKee. “The Act on Climate represents a commitment that not only addresses a moral imperative, but also presents a platform to enhance our economy, public health, environmental equity, and natural environment. I look forward to working with the General Assembly, the congressional delegation, local communities, small businesses, labor leaders, advocates, and other stakeholders to ensure those efforts create affordable and sustainable pathways toward a net-zero climate emission future.” 
“After its people, our state’s greatest resource is its natural environment. It is up to us to protect it for future generations,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Passage of the 2021 Act on Climate into law signals that we, collectively as a state, are taking meaningful and sustained action to address climate change – the greatest threat to our environment and way of life. I applaud the Governor, General Assembly, and Rhode Islanders from across the Ocean State in working to pass this watershed legislation into law.”
“Governor McKee’s signing of the Act on Climate puts Rhode Island on the right track. The Department of Environmental Management is eager to work with partners, businesses and community members to make sure we design and support programs that – like the rising tide – give everyone a boost when it comes to cleaner future. The impacts of climate change are here now, and we know that being smart and strategic about how to grow greener will result in jobs and healthier communities. I am proud of the legislators and advocates who led work on this legislation and I am eager to work with the Governor on the plans and programs to achieve the goals of the Act on Climate,” said Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit.
IN PHOTO: The 2021 Act on Climate is signed into law at Bowen's Wharf in Newport. From left, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, Gov. Daniel McKee, bill sponsors Rep. Lauren H. Carson and Sen. Dawn Euer, and Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. 

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923