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The Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014 — SUMMARY
Version 2.0: February 28, 2014

Purpose of the Bill

The Resilient Rhode Island Act seeks to protect the people of Rhode Island and make our state economy and society resilient in the face of the nearly certain, but not precisely predictable, effects of climate change.  These effects are likely to include rising sea levels, increased coastal and inland flooding that comes with more intense storms, extended droughts, and longer and more intense heat waves, which are especially problematic in urban areas.  It provides the framework for state government to adaptively manage the problem in the face of changing conditions, and to do so in a way that is publicly inclusive and economically sound. 

Institutional Design

  • Establishes a climate change science advisory council that periodically reviews and considers current science regarding climate change and Rhode Island’s programs of adaptation and mitigation;
  • Designates the Department of Environmental Management as the coordinating agency for addressing issues of climate change mitigation (emissions reductions) given its authority over air quality;
  • Designates the Department of Administration, Division of Statewide Planning, as the coordinating agency for adaptation and resilience, given its established authority for land use planning, community development, and the development, maintenance and use of the state guide plan and its elements;
  • Sunsets the RI Climate Change Commission and creates a climate change adaptation committee that will integrate vulnerability assessments, set goals and standards for measurable progress.

Adaptation

  • Utilizes the powers of existing government institutions to respond to climate change in a comprehensive, integrated, and dynamic manner. Policies are adjusted and updated according to climate change science through “adaptive management”;
  • Protects natural areas and landscape features that buffer changing climatic conditions;
  • Integrates climate change adaptation planning into existing plans;
  • Updates building code standards to accommodate anticipated change expected during design life;
  • Authorizes the use of green infrastructure, low impact development and economic diversification;
  • Ensures protection of vulnerable populations like the homeless and the elderly.

Mitigation (greenhouse gas emissions reductions)

  • Prioritizes reducing energy costs borne by low and moderate income households by achieving high levels of residential energy efficiency;
  • Calls for an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions by sector and major source and the development of strategies and implementation measures to achieve the following targets: 25% below 1990 levels by 2025, 50% below 1990 levels by 2035, and 85% below 1990 levels by 2050;
  • Includes strategies and mechanisms with measurable goals and targets for each sector, including but not limited to: offering market based mechanisms, expanding financing and investment tools, modernizing the electric grid, improving incentives for combined heat and power systems, etc.

We remind readers that this is the second draft of this bill, which will be discussed and amended throughout the legislative session.  The full draft of the bill and much more information about the issue and efforts here and elsewhere is at the new webpage: www.ResilientRI.org

Reports

Media Coverage

Websites