Rhode Island Climate Risk Reduction Act of 2010

The State of Rhode Island General Assembly has amended Title 23 of the General Laws "Health and Safety" by adding Chapter 84 entitled "The Rhode Island Climate Risk Reduction Act of 2010", which was introduced on February 11, 2010. 

The legislative findings recognize that climate change impacts have already arrived in Rhode Island.  The state's residents and ecosystems face increasing risks including rising temperatures; more extreme weather; and damage from storm surges and rising sea levels to homes, businesses, public infrastructure and coastal habitats along over four hundred miles of coastline. This chapter "seeks to protect the historic culture, heritage, economy, public infrastructure, natural resources and the current and future well-being of the population of the State of Rhode Island while helping move the state to an active response to climate change impacts by identifying some of the most critical issues that will have to be addressed, and by investigating and implementing cost-effective solutions and/or adaptation strategies for the state and its municipalities."

The Act establishes the Rhode Island Climate Change Commission.  The 28 member Commission will consist of members of the General Assembly, municipal government, environmental non-profit organizations, representatives of business and higher education, a realtor, and a medical expert among others.  The purpose of the Commission is to research and monitor the impacts of climate change on Rhode Island, to identify adaptation measures, and to "identify potential mechanisms to mainstream climate adaptation into existing state and municipal programs including, but not limited to, policies plans, infrastructure development and maintenance".

The legislation also requires cities and towns to account for climate change when building their comprehensive management plans and mandates the state’s Emergency Management Agency to set up an automated system to alert the elderly about extreme weather.

An amendment introduced, passed, and vetoed by Governor Chafee in 2012 would have reduced the Commission to an advisory role under the auspices of the coastal resources management council.  The amendment would have denied the Commission access to staff resources from all state departments and agencies, instead granting it staff and administrative support only from the Coastal Resources Management Council.  Governor Chafee cited the breadth of the climate change impacts beyond the purview of the the coastal resources management council, and the opposition of some environmental groups to the amendment in his veto statement.




Publication Date: February 11, 2010

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