Greening Rhode Island

By Marcus Graham,2014-04-08 11:35
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Greening Rhode Island

    An Issues Paper by: An Issues Paper by: n Issues Paper by:A

    The Rhode Island Senate Policy Office The Rhode Island Senate Policy Office The Rhode Island Senate Policy Office

    January 2008 January 2008

    How the Ocean State is going green, and what it How the Ocean State is going green, and what it

    can do to stay there can do to stay there

    Table of Contents

     Introduction Page 4

     The Good News Page 5

     Areas for Improvement Page 6

    Where we are… Page 7

    …on Energy Page 7

    …on Emissions Page 9

    …on Pollution Page 11

    …on Living Green Page 14

    …on Governing Green Page 19

    Conclusion Page 21

     Ideas to Go

    Green! Look for boxes like this at various locations throughout this report for some quick and easy ways we can all live a little greener.


    Greening Rhode Island Greening Rhode Island

    Hon. Joseph A. Montalbano Senate President

    Hon. M. Teresa Paiva Weed Hon. Dennis L. Algiere

     Senate Majority Leader Senate Minority Leader

     RI Senate Policy Staff

Marie Ganim, Director

    Kelly K. Mahoney, Assistant Director

    Robert D. Kalaskowski, Analyst

     Dino Autiello, Analyst

    Marie Jenkins, Analyst


    What follows is a conversation about the condition of environmental protection in the State of Rhode Island- what the state has done thus far to help preserve and improve the environment, and what it can do in the future to continue these positive results. It is not a critique on whether we are „doing all we can to save the planet‟, nor does it represent a celebration of what we have already done. Rather, it is intended to be a starting point, designed to initiate discussion across the state concerning where we are, in terms of environmental friendliness, and where we wish to go.

The piece is entitled “Greening Rhode Island”, a phrase which has taken on a variety of

    meanings in recent years. To many Rhode Islanders, the term ‘greening’ may imply a

    major shift in life-style - changes in how we power our buildings, dispose of our waste, and operate our vehicles; to others, the adjustments might be much smaller-scale - becoming more aware of what goods we buy, how warm or cool we keep our homes, or attempting to be a bit more judicious in what we throw away versus what we recycle. Both of these definitions are appropriate in this discussion we cannot have one without the other.

     Go Green : v. Holding concern, The intent of this piece is to both congratulate and and taking action, for the

    preservation, restoration, or encourage recognizing what we have done, as a state

    improvement of the natural and as individual citizens, and what we still must do, to environment.

    preserve and strengthen the environment. The ideas

    posed throughout, large and small, are merely suggestions- designed to promote conversation, debate, and, ideally, action on how we can continue Greening Rhode


    We thank all those who helped and participated in the development of this document. In particular, the Senate Policy Office wishes to recognize the contributions of Kenneth Payne, the former Director of the Policy Office who originally conceived the idea for this report, and our Summer 2007 interns: James D‟Ambra of Boston College; Michael Nugent

    of Rhode Island College; and Alexandra Tocco of LaSalle Academy. Their varied input and perspectives on these issues were valued and greatly appreciated.


The Good News

     1 Rhode Island has the lowest per capita energy consumption in the Nation.

     th2 Rhode Island ranks 48 in the Nation in per-capita carbon (GHG) emissions (2003 data).

     Rhode Island is one of the few states that require the statewide use of reformulated motor 3gasoline blended with ethanol.

     4 Comparatively cleaner natural gas fuels almost all of Rhode Island‟s electricity generation.

     st Rhode Island ranked 51 in total environmental pollution releases (Based on 2003 data, 5the most recent available).

     In 2005, Rhode Island adapted appliance energy efficiency standards- these standards are

    expected to reduce annual GHG emissions by 20,000 tons and save the state $225 million in 6reduced energy generation costs over the next 25 years.

     In 2006, Rhode Island expanded efficiency standards to cover items including boilers and

    furnaces- these expanded standards are estimated to reduce GHG emissions by an additional 7166.3 million pounds and save the state $119.1 million by 2020

     Rhode Island is one of several states that have followed California in enacting strict vehicle 8GHG emissions standards.

     Rhode Island has set the ambitious goal of generating at least 16 percent of its electricity 9through renewable resources by the year 2019.

     Rhode Island has developed several regulatory and financial incentives designed to

    increase the use of alternative fuel and electric vehicles. Additionally, the Governor has issued

    an order requiring all new state vehicles to be powered by alternative fuels or be hybrid electric 10vehicles.

     Rhode Island has joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first multi-state 11greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program in the United States.

     In 2005, the Governor signed an Executive Order stating that Eat local! Supporting local agriculture as all new state building projects (and those undergoing significant opposed to faraway renovation) must attain LEED (Leadership in Energy 12farms cuts down on and Environmental Design) certification. long distance food

    transportation and

    benefits the local 1economy. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. 5 =na&how_many=100 6 7‘Energy Savings From Energy Efficiency Standards’ –Environment Rhode Island 8 Ibid. 9 10 11 12


Areas for Improvement

     Rhode Island‟s recycling efforts capture only 15-20 percent of the total municipal waste it generates; 61 percent of that waste is considered recyclable. Unless recycling rates make a

    marked improvement quickly, the lifespan of the Central Landfill will be significantly 13shortened.

     Rhode Island has made very little progress in promoting private investment in green

    building design throughout the state - there are only 13 buildings (public and private), in various

    stages of completion, throughout Rhode Island that hope to attain LEED certification, as 14compared to over 140 in Massachusetts.

     Rhode Island falls below the national average in all three categories for the number of its 15commuters who use public transportation, car pool, or walk to work.

     Aging infrastructure, increased demand, and limited

    options for new resources have raised serious questions Take a canvas bag to 16about the sustainability of Rhode Island‟s water supply. the grocery store. (Or try to reuse your local shop's plastic or paper The overall health of Narragansett Bay continues to ones) be a concern Seven years ago, Save The Bay rated

    Narragansett Bay, giving it a 4.5 out of 10 (10 being the

    healthiest bay imaginable, 1 being the most polluted). In 172006, it scored even lower at 4.3”




















     13 14,guid,fb9ee05a-d4b3-407d-8c1f-6af6269b8295.aspx 15 16 17



    Where We Are Where We Are

    Rhode Island has always enjoyed a special and distinct bond with its environment. With nearly one-tenth of its entire inland area covered by salt water and with no

    Stop unwanted resident more than 30 minutes away (by car) from the edge of catalogs and junk 18mail. In addition to Narragansett Bay, the state‟s attachment and reliance on its being an annoyance; junk mail requires natural surroundings is certainly a unique one. Narragansett Bay, over 100 million trees for example, has had a profound impact not only on our economy, each year to produce.

    but on our state culture- what would Rhode Island life be without

    clam cakes, Quahogs, and summers at Scarborough Beach? The

    Blackstone River served as the cradle of industrial revolution not only for the State of Rhode Island, but for the entire nation. Our livelihood, and indeed our way of life, is, in many ways, derived from our natural surroundings.

    In light of this special relationship between the state and its environment, the question begs to be asked whether Rhode Island has been as kind to the environment as the environment has been to it?

    The answer is complex.

     On Energy On Energy

    If there is one area of environmental concern where Rhode Island consistently receives high marks for good behavior it is energy consumption. Rhode Island has the lowest per capita energy consumption of any state and nearly all of that energy is generated by comparatively cleaner

    natural gas. Our sparing energy consumption (Table 2), derived from relatively cleaner sources (Table 1), has helped Rhode Island maintain some of the lowest per capita carbon dioxide emissions in the nation (Table 3).

    Table 1

    Fossil Fuel Emission Levels

    - Pounds per Billion Btu of Energy Input

    Pollutant Natural Gas Oil Coal

    Carbon Dioxide 117,000 164,000 208,000

    Carbon Monoxide 40 33 208

    Nitrogen Oxides 92 448 457

    Sulfur Dioxide 1 1,122 2,591

    Particulates 7 84 2,744

    Mercury 0.000 0.007 0.016

    Source: EIA - Natural Gas Issues and Trends 1998

    Table 2



    Per Capita Energy Consumption, Ranked by State, 2004 State Million Btu State Million Btu State Million Btu 1) Alaska 1,186.20 18) Nebraska 373.1 35) Michigan 309.1 2) Wyoming 898.8 19) Delaware 367.7 36) Utah 305.7 3) Louisiana 848.9 20) Maine 365.6 37) Oregon 304.7 4) North Dakota 632.7 21) New Mexico 359 38) New Jersey 303.2 5) Texas 531.6 22) Minnesota 358.5 39) Colorado 301 6) Alabama 478.1 23) Idaho 358.4 40) Nevada 297.4 7) Indiana 473.3 24) Georgia 351.5 41) Maryland 274.9 8) Kentucky 472.5 25) Ohio 351 42) Vermont 272.8 9) West Virginia 453.5 26) Virginia 342.4 43) Connecticut 264.4 10) Montana 435 27) South Dakota 342.2 44) New Hampshire 262.5 11) Oklahoma 421.8 28) Wisconsin 336 45) Hawaii 256.9 12) Mississippi 419.8 29) District of Columbia 328.2 46) Florida 256.4 13) Arkansas 413.5 30) Pennsylvania 327.2 47) Arizona 250 14) South Carolina 409.4 31) Washington 323.1 48) Massachusetts 239.7 15) Iowa 408.2 32) Missouri 321.5 49) California 233.4 16) Kansas 403 33) North Carolina 318.3 50) New York 220.5 17) Tennessee 390.4 34) Illinois 311.5 51) Rhode Island 209.9 Source: U.S Department of Energy

Table 3

    Per Capita Carbon Emissions, Ranked by State, 2003

    222State Tons CO State Tons CO State Tons CO 1) Wyoming 125 18) Ohio 23 35) Hawaii 17 2) North Dakota 80 19) Arkansas 23 36) Virginia 17 3) Alaska 69 20) Pennsylvania 22 37) New Hampshire 16 4) West Virginia 63 21) Mississippi 22 38) Arizona 16 5) Louisiana 40 22) Delaware 21 39) Florida 14 6) Indiana 38 23) Tennessee 21 40) New Jersey 14 7) Montana 36 24) Minnesota 20 41) Maryland 14 8) Kentucky 35 25) Colorado 20 42) Massachusetts 14 9) New Mexico 31 26) Nevada 19 43) Washington 13 10) Texas 30 27) Georgia 19 44) Connecticut 12 11) Alabama 30 28) Wisconsin 19 45) Oregon 11 12) Oklahoma 29 29) South Carolina 19 46) New York 11 13) Kansas 29 30) Michigan 18 47) California 11 14) Iowa 27 31) Illinois 18 48) Rhode Island 11 15) Utah 26 32) South Dakota 18 49) Vermont 11 16) Nebraska 25 33) Maine 18 50) Idaho 10 17) Missouri 24 34) South Carolina 17 Source: U.S Department of Energy


    Rhode Island has sought to further reduce its energy consumption levels through regulations, standards and incentives. In 2005 and 2006, for example, the state adopted, and expanded, appliance energy efficiency standards which are expected to significantly reduce annual Greenhouse gas emissions, save the state an estimated $340 million in reduced energy costs over

    19the next 25 years, and further reduce our already impressive energy consumption levels.

    While Rhode Island‟s track record when it comes to energy consumption is commendable, its record on harnessing renewable energy resources has been, thus far, disappointing. As of when this report was developed, hardly any of Rhode Island‟s energy is derived from renewable

    resources. In recent years, while much of the nation has begun to embrace inexpensive renewable energy technologies such as wind power, Rhode Island has made little progress in the area. This may be about to change, however, as the Total Carbon Emissions, Ranked by State, 2003 state has now set the goal of generating 6262 Tons CO State 10 Tons CO State 10

    16% of our electricity through renewable 1) Texas 670 26) Kansas 80 20resources by 2019. The administration 2) California 389 27) South Carolina 79

    3) Pennsylvania 271 28) Iowa 79 recently proposed that this goal be set

    4) Ohio 266 29) Maryland 79 even higher, hoping to increase the

    5) Florida 244 30) Washington 79 state‟s share of renewable energy to 20% 6) Indiana 235 31) Wyoming 63 21by the year 2011. With these recent 7) Illinois 230 32) Arkansas 62

    developments, the future of renewables in 8) New York 214 33) Utah 62

    9) Michigan 185 34) Mississippi 62 Rhode Island seems to be brightening.

    10) Louisiana 179 35) New Mexico 58

     On Emissions11) Georgia 168 36) North Dakota 51 On Emissions

    12) North Carolina 146 37) Alaska 45

    13) Kentucky 143 38) Nevada 43 Carbon dioxide emissions are a major

    14) Missouri 137 39) Nebraska 43 contributor to global warming. As billions

    15) Utah 136 40) Connecticut 42 of tons of this gas reach the atmosphere, 16) New Jersey 124 41) Oregon 40 they trap heat from the sun which would 17) Virginia 123 42) Montana 33

    have otherwise been bounced off the 18) Tennessee 120 43) Maine 23

    planet‟s surface. This trapped heat, many 19) West Virginia 114 44) Hawaii 22

    20) Wisconsin 105 45) New Hampshire 21 scientists contend, is gradually raising

    21) Oklahoma 103 46) Delaware 17 temperatures worldwide, destabilizing the 22) Minnesota 102 47) Idaho 14 earth‟s climate, and causing increasingly 23) Colorado 90 48) South Dakota 14

    intense natural disasters. The chart to the 24) Arizona 89 49) Rhode Island 11

    25) Massachusetts 87 50) Vermont 7 right illustrates Rhode Island‟s share of

    the total carbon emissions of the United States (2003). Source: U.S Department of Energy

     19, Environment Rhode Island 20 21


    Carbon emissions come from a variety of sources. Of those that are man-made, the most common culprit is the burning of fossil fuels for energy in our power planets and automobile engines. In fact, automobile emissions alone account for more than 20 percent of U.S. global warming emissions

    22each year. And while Americans only make up 5% of the

    world‟s population, and drive only 30% of the world‟s Unplug appliances. Unplugging single-use automobiles, we account for 45% of the world's total appliances (i.e. coffee 23automotive carbon dioxide emissions. machine, microwave) when not in use can As previously mentioned, Rhode Island‟s share of the nation‟s save up to 15-20 % of your electricity bill! total greenhouse gas emissions is relatively small. However

    combating global warming on a national scale will require all

    states (and individuals) to reduce their consumption and emission levels from currently unsustainable levels. To its credit, Rhode Island has not shied away from this challenge- taking critical steps to reduce the state‟s carbon footprint. In 2005, the state announced it would be one of several states to follow California‟s strict vehicle GHG emissions

    24standards - beginning with 2009 model year cars and trucks, these standards mandate a 22 percent reduction of tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions by the 2012 model year and a 30 percent

    25reduction by the 2016 model year. Presently, transportation in Rhode Island contributes 40 percent of the state‟s total greenhouse gas emissions.

    Arguably the biggest step Rhode Island has taken toward combating

    global warming and lowering its emissions levels has been joining the

    26northeastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the first

    multi-state greenhouse gas „cap-and-trade‟ program in the United

    States. Comprised of the following states: Connecticut, Delaware,

    Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New

    York, Rhode Island, and Vermont; RGGI sets a cap on emissions of

    carbon dioxide from power plants, and allows sources to trade these

    emissions allowances. If implemented effectively, the program will

    begin by capping emissions at current levels in 2009, and then

    27reducing emissions 10% by 2019. These two developments help

    build upon Rhode Island‟s already commendable record relating to

    carbon emissions.

     22 23 Ibid. 24 25 Ibid. 26 27


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