Protecting Our Environment
"In the Ocean State, the health of our environment directly affects the strength of our economy, the wellbeing of our citizens, and the future of our children."
I am working with leaders across government and the private sector to craft policies that will reduce our carbon emissions, protect clean air and water, and position Rhode Island as a leader in the clean energy economy. I’m fighting for smart solutions that are good for people, our economy, and the planet.
When I talk to Rhode Islanders about the environment, I hear a few common themes: We all want our children to breathe clean air. We all want to preserve our beaches and forests. And we all want to protect Narragansett Bay for generations to come.
Here are a few of the ways I’m working every day to protect the natural resources that make Rhode Island a great place to live and work:
I am proud to serve on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, which has jurisdiction over legislation addressing climate change, clean air and water, as well as flood protection and critical public infrastructure projects. I am the chair of the EPW Subcommittee on Oversight, which oversees the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal environmental research and development programs. I also have the honor to serve as the Co-Chair of the Oceans Caucus and the International Conservation Caucus, bipartisan groups working to focus the attention of the Senate on the pressing environmental issues of the day.
In Rhode Island, the strength of our economy is tied to the health of our oceans. In 2011, I introduced bipartisan legislation to establish a National Endowment for the Oceans to provide reliable funding for research and preservation efforts to protect our oceans and coasts, and the research, tourism, and fishing jobs they support.
I am also fighting for policies that recognize the overwhelming scientific consensus that human-made carbon pollution causes dangerous changes to our climate and oceans. I have worked across the aisle on legislation to limit our greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the generation of clean, renewable hydropower and supporting the use of solar and other renewable energy systems on homes. To help ensure that we are prepared for the threats that may increase with climate change, such as rising sea levels and more intense weather events, I introduced the SAFE Act, which incorporates climate change projections into the government’s long-range planning, to guide smart investments and to make the nation more resilient to change. To learn more about my work on climate change or watch videos of my weekly climate change speech, "Time to Wake Up," please click here.
As Attorney General of Rhode Island, I took on big, out-of-state utility companies because I believe that every Rhode Islander deserves to live in a healthy environment. As your Senator, I have continued to fight harmful pollution, calling on the Obama Administration to protect Americans from toxic mercury and smog, and to step up enforcement of the Clean Air Act to stop interstate pollution from harming Rhode Islanders. And I have spoken at hearings to draw attention to the dangerous link between air pollution and asthma attacks.
I have also fought for federal investments in our crumbling water infrastructure, to ensure safe drinking water and to reduce beach closures. And I have introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the National Estuary Program, first established in 1987 by Rhode Island Senator John Chafee, which protects important estuary systems like the Narragansett Bay from pollution and overdevelopment.
Clean energy industries have the potential to reduce carbon pollution and create jobs in Rhode Island. That is why I have fought to position America as a leader in these emerging industries by extending a renewable energy tax grant program that supported hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs. I am also an original cosponsor of the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act, which would provide the offshore wind industry with enhanced stability by extending key investment tax credits for offshore projects. And I have fought for critical infrastructure upgrades to support wind turbine manufacturing in Quonset.
Here are some of the things I have been proud to do to help safeguard our natural environment.
- Led 15 Senate colleagues in calling on the Obama Administration to implement power plant mercury pollution standards, which were announced by the EPA in December 2011.
- Introduced legislation establishing an independent, non-partisan commission, later created by President Obama, to investigate the causes of the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and provide recommendations to avoid such disasters in the future.
- Worked to secure $1.8 million in federal aid to clean up brownfield sites in communities across Rhode Island.
- Helped secure over $10 million in federal funding for Rhode Island to improve energy efficiency, reduce fossil fuel emissions, and create local clean energy jobs through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.
- Secured over $1 million in federal funds in 2008 for Narragansett Bay preservation education programming.
- Helped pass the Estuary Restoration Act to support the restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems in Rhode Island and across the country.
- In 2011, led a coalition of senators in calling on the Obama Administration to update the EPA’s smog air quality standard, as required by the Clean Air Act, to protect our air quality and public health.
We need everyone’s help to preserve our environment.
That’s why we’d like to hear from you. What ideas do you have about being better stewards of the environment in Rhode Island, across America, and around the globe?
Share your thoughts and ideas.
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