PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — House lawmakers in Rhode Island have a scheduled vote on a climate change bill that would set “mandatory and enforceable targets” for greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Act on Climate bill (H 5445) is scheduled for consideration before the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lauren H. Carson, D-Newport, would make the state’s climate goals outlined in the Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014 “more ambitious and enforceable.”
The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, and it also later cleared a House committee on a 13-2 vote Thursday. The two nay votes: Democrat Jim McLaughlin and Republican Patricia Morgan.
Those opposed feared new mandates would be too costly for Rhode Islanders.
“ISO has not even finished their report yet. Their report is not going to be finished until the end of the year, and yet we’re making these enormous, mandatory law that will cost everyone in Rhode Island between $50 and $100,000,” Morgan said in Thursday’s House Environment and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
Morgan and other House Republicans are planning to offer an amendment Tuesday to require that any plan adopted by the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council must first receive General Assembly approval before it is carried out by any other state agency.
“We can reduce carbon emissions and preserve our representative system of government at the same time,” House Minority Leader Blake A. Filippi said in a news release Sunday.
“As H5445 is currently written, no personal, business, state or municipal activity is off the table in order to achieve dramatic emissions reductions. And unlike traditional agency regulation-making, H5445 makes clear that these regulations may be imposed no matter the financial impact on Rhode Island families and businesses,” Filippi continued.
The Act on Climate bill builds upon the Resilient Rhode Island Act, which was passed in 2014, revising emission reduction targets, transparency, and adding accountability to make sure the state’s emission goals are met by 2050.
Language in the bill calls for the plan to “include an equitable transition to climate compliance for environmental justice populations, redress past environmental and public health inequities, and include a process where the interests of people from populations most vulnerable to the effects on climate change and at risk of pollution, displacement, energy burden, and cost may provide input on the plan.”
The bill also says the plan will identify support for workers by “creating quality and family-sustaining clean energy jobs that pay wages and benefits consistent with or that exceed area wage and labor standards,” in addition to providing the development of programs that “directly recruit, train, and retain those underrepresented in the workforce, including women, people of color, indigenous, veterans, formerly incarcerated people, and people living with disabilities.”
The House is scheduled to meet at Veterans Memorial Auditorium since the State House remains closed to the public as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting will be televised live at 4 p.m. on Capitol Television, which can be seen on Cox on Channels 15 and 61, in high definition on Cox Channel 1061, on Full Channel on Channel 15, and on Channel 34 by Verizon subscribers. It will also be live-streamed at www.rilegislature.gov/CapTV.