Acting on Climate Change and Protecting Our Environment

As a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and cofounder of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, I'm fighting for smart solutions to address climate change and position Rhode Island as a leader in the clean energy economy. I also helped form the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus to protect our ocean and coasts for our, and future, generations.

Addressing Climate Change

Rhode Islanders are seeing the effects of climate change all around us, from rising sea levels to more extreme storms. Climate change poses one of the greatest threats to our economy and national security, and I've been steadfast in fighting for legislation to cut carbon pollution and prepare our communities for environmental changes.

  • My American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act would make polluters pay a fee per ton of carbon emitted to cover the environmental and health damages they offload on the public. My plan would cut carbon pollution and return every dollar of revenue generated to the American people through tax cuts, assistance for our seniors and low-income energy consumers, and transition support for industries and their workers who now rely on fossil fuels.
  • Since April 2012, I go to the Senate floor every week that the Senate is in session to speak out on climate change, because the cost of inaction is too high. You can watch my "Time To Wake Up" speeches here.
  • I'm working hard to hold polluters accountable by shedding light on powerful polluters and their front groups that mislead the public about the dangers of climate change and corrupt our elections.

Promoting Sustainable Energy

Smart energy policy can help to combat climate change and to increase our energy security. Wind power, for example, produces no carbon pollution and supports jobs that cannot be outsourced. I'm working to promote clean energy solutions for our country and to support this growing industry in Rhode Island.

  • We must continue to develop renewable energy resources that provide reliable, clean power. That's why I helped author the WIND Act, which would extend valuable tax credits that encourage offshore wind development.
  • I have worked hard to support Deepwater Wind as it builds our nation’s first offshore wind farm. This 30 MW project will bring cleaner energy to Rhode Island, and demonstrates what we can accomplish when everyone who uses our ocean and coasts is involved in decisions about how to use these resources. 

  • New technologies can also make traditional fuels more sustainable. I worked on bipartisan legislation to provide tax credits to help pay for new technologies that capture and repurpose carbon pollution from coal plants and other sources and another bill to help develop advanced nuclear technologies.
  • I have also worked hard to end pollution from hydraulic fracturing or "fracking". I cosponsored the FRAC Act, which would protect our drinking water from fracking-related pollution. 

Reducing the Risks of Toxic Chemicals

As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I've worked with Democrats and Republicans to protect our communities from toxic chemicals. From strengthening programs to redevelop contaminated land to crafting commonsense measures to eliminate toxic chemicals in everyday products, I'm fighting for the health of Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island families.

  • Throughout my career, I have fought to protect children from lead poising, which still plagues cities and towns with older homes. My Home Lead Safety Tax Credit Act would provide tax credits of up to $3,000 for homeowners, renters, and landlords who remove lead paint, pipes, or other hazards. I also fight each year to ensure funding for the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund and Healthy Homes Initiative, two programs that have helped reduce lead poisoning in Rhode Island.
  • Rhode Islanders have seen firsthand that restoring polluted sites generates jobs, increases property values, and strengthens local economies. I'm a proud cosponsor of the bipartisan Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act, or BUILD Act, which would strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency's successful Brownfields Program that revitalizes vacant or abandoned property that has been contaminated.
  • I championed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which became law in 2016. This overhaul of our nation's chemical regulations will protect families from toxic substances in everyday products and provide businesses with greater regulatory certainty. The Lautenberg Act includes my proposals to help reduce mercury pollution and to maintain states' ability to set stricter standards to protect their residents.

Keeping Our Oceans Healthy and Our Water Clean

Rhode Islanders are right to be proud of our ocean, bay, and coastlines. From tourism and fishing to beaches and sailing, our oceans and coasts define our economy and way of life. The docks of Galilee and Point Judith are home to fishermen whose families have been making their living from the sea for generations, and our beloved Narragansett Bay is a resource for businesses and families from Providence to Newport to Narragansett. We have a responsibility to maintain our ocean and Bay today and for generations to come.

  • I have been committed to creating a permanent endowment to support oceans and coastal research, restoration, and conservation. In 2015, the President signed legislation establishing this endowment, and I'm continuing to work to bring much-needed funding to the world-class researchers we are fortunate to have in Rhode Island.
  • I'm honored to serve as a Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus, a bipartisan group I founded to protect our oceans and coasts. We focus on ending illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, reducing marine debris, and improving ocean data and monitoring. Among the Caucus's accomplishments was Senate ratification of four international fishing treaties and enabling legislation that will level the playing field for our domestic fishing industry against illicit pirate fishing.
  • As the Ranking Democratic Member of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, I help to oversee the implementation of laws governing clean water. I have pushed for investments in our drinking water infrastructure, legislation to reauthorize the National Estuary Program, and have worked to raise awareness of the harms of plastics and other debris in our oceans.