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Governor McKee Signs Act on Climate

NEWPORT, RI Governor Dan McKee, joined by Attorney General Peter Neronha, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and legislative sponsors, signed into law the 2021 Act on Climate (S-0078A, H-5445A), legislation which updates Rhode Island's climate-emission reduction goals. The bill will position the state to boldly address climate change and prepare for a global economy that will be shifting to adapt to clean technology.

"With four hundred miles of coastline, urban and rural coastal communities, fishing and agricultural industries, the Ocean State is on the frontlines of the climate crisis," said Governor McKee. "The Act on Climate represents a commitment that not only addresses a moral imperative, but also presents a platform to enhance our economy, public health, environmental equity, and natural environment. I look forward to working with the General Assembly, the congressional delegation, local communities, small business, labor, advocates, and other stakeholders to ensure those efforts create affordable and sustainable pathways toward a net-zero climate emission future."

Under the 2021 Act on Climate, the state will develop a plan to incrementally reduce climate emissions to net-zero by 2050. The plan will be updated every 5 years and will address areas such as environmental injustices, public health inequities and a fair employment transition as fossil-fuel jobs are replaced by green energy jobs. Rhode Island joins other states, including Massachusetts, New York and Maine, in enacting significant climate legislation in the past few years aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a low carbon economy.

"After its people, our state's greatest resource is its natural environment. It is up to us to protect it for future generations," said Attorney General Neronha. "Passage of the 2021 Act on Climate into law signals that we, collectively as a state, are taking meaningful and sustained action to address climate change the greatest threat to our environment and way of life. I applaud the Governor, General Assembly, and Rhode Islanders from across the Ocean State in working to pass this watershed legislation into law."

"I am immensely proud to celebrate the enactment of this landmark environmental legislation, and grateful to my colleagues in the General Assembly, the vast majority of whom enthusiastically supported it. Here in the Ocean State, and particularly in my home city of Warwick, we suffer the effects of rising seas and increasingly intense storm surges that regularly damage homes, businesses and infrastructure. Rhode Island must join the global effort to address the climate crisis, and will directly benefit in many ways, not the least of which will be job creation in green industries. The Act on Climate puts Rhode Island on a path to a sustainable and prosperous future," said House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick).

"The Act on Climate is a plan to move with the urgency we need to stop pollution and use the clean technology and power sources that become more available and affordable every year. Its goals are totally achievable, and have the benefit of shifting energy dollars away from fossil fuels produced elsewhere to clean energy that can be produced here in Rhode Island. Just as Samuel Slater harnessed the power of the Blackstone River to launch the American Industrial Revolution, Rhode Island can once again use renewable power to lead the way as we address the urgent climate change crisis," said Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence).

"The Act on Climate represents a strong commitment to the long-term health of our planet, as well as economic opportunity for our state. With this act, we are jumping to the leading edge of those states and nations that are changing the landscape of power generation. The Ocean State, which is already home to the nation's first commercial offshore wind farm, is well-positioned for explosive growth in the green economy, and this commitment will fuel the creation of green jobs and clean industry, and help drive down the costs of environmentally sound technology. It's exciting to make a commitment that will have such positive and profound environmental and economic effects for our state," said Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), the bill's Senate sponsor.

"The climate crisis is an enormously important issue to Rhode Islanders, and the Act on Climate finally takes decisive action to address it. Rhode Island will now at last create specific, evolving, science-backed plans to wind down carbon output and ramp up renewables, with public input, environmental justice and accountability. The extent to which our climate continues to change is within our control, and I am so proud that the Ocean State is standing among the leaders of the world in making this commitment to our planet and to future generations," said Representative Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) the bill's House sponsor.

"Governor McKee's signing of the Act on Climate puts Rhode Island on the right track. The Department of Environmental Management is eager to work with partners, businesses and community members to make sure we design and support programs that like the rising tide give everyone a boost when it comes to cleaner future. The impacts of climate change are here now, and we know that being smart and strategic about how to grow greener will result in jobs and healthier communities. I am proud of the legislators and advocates who led work on this legislation and I am eager to work with the Governor on the plans and programs to achieve the goals of the Act on Climate," said Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit.

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