2010 -- H 7719 SUBSTITUTE A AS AMENDED
A N A C T
RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY - CLIMATE RISK REDUCTION ACT
Introduced By: Representatives Segal, and Fierro
Date Introduced: February 25, 2010
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Title 23 of the General Laws entitled "HEALTH AND SAFETY" is hereby
amended by adding thereto the following chapter:
23-84-1. Short title. – This chapter shall be known and may be cited as “The Rhode
23-84-2. Legislative findings. -- It is hereby found and declared by the general assembly
(1) Climate change
impacts have already arrived in
in the state have increased by one point five degrees Fahrenheit (1.5?F) since 1970 and mean
winter temperatures in the state are up by four degrees Fahrenheit (4?F). The annual mean surface
the 1960s. Droughts are becoming longer and more frequent, storms cause worse flooding, and
the sea level is measurably rising over eight inches (8") since 1930 at an accelerated rate. Gases
released by the consumption of fossil fuels explain most of these trends very well; since these
gases stay in the atmosphere and trap heat for decades, the
locked into serious disruptions in their way of life.
(2) If emissions continue at the current high rate, the annual number of days over ninety
degrees Fahrenheit (90?F) is expected to grow sharply from about five (5) per year today to about
fifty (50) to sixty (60) per year at the end of the
roughly twenty-five (25) days over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit (100?F) every summer if we
continue on a high emissions pathway. Under these scenarios,
in 2100 will resemble
rise three (3) to five (5) feet by 2100. Increased flooding and droughts are widely recognized in
climate models to dominate
intense storms increases.
of increasing risks: (i) Rising temperatures (which put stress on human health and ecosystems);
(ii) More extreme weather (bringing more frequent heavy thunderstorms and flooding, heat waves
and more intense coastal storms and hurricanes); and (iii) Flooding and damage to homes,
businesses, public infrastructure and coastal habitats along the state’s over four hundred (400)
miles of coastline by storm surges and rising sea levels.
policy and draft guidelines, identifying climate issues within the state's coastal program and its
special area management plans and compiling existing research on various trends associated with
climate change, there is no comprehensive state-wide assessment of projected impacts of climate
change to human health and safety, economic and natural resources of the state. Many states in
the region have begun to develop commission and statewide strategies for climate change.
increased risks by adjusting their building codes, improving and updating their emergency plans,
identifying their greatest vulnerabilities and prioritizing actions to address them and incorporating
climate change projections in planning for long-term
learn from and build upon these efforts. Some communities are even discovering opportunities in
this crisis to address longstanding vulnerabilities, and the potential to develop new industries to
supply adaptation technology and advice to communities.
(6) Natural ecosystems and habitats, both coastal and upland, provide critical ecosystem
services including, fisheries habitat, drinking water, and flood protection. These resources play
an important role in minimizing risks and hazard exposure to climate change impacts such as
coastal and riverline flooding. Forested watersheds provide increased protection from the impacts
of both flooding and droughts, absorbing water during storm events, and releasing it slowly over
(7) Tree canopy cover is a cost-effective adaptation to climate change, particularly in the
urban environment. In particular, increasing urban tree canopy cover has been found to reduce
summer high temperatures, reduce energy consumption, have a positive impact on stormwater
management and air quality, and improve groundwater quality. Increasing tree canopy cover will
also help the state achieve its goal of mitigating carbon dioxide emissions by enhancing biotic
sequestration and reducing energy consumption.
(8) An October 2008 study by the National Research Council found that some of the
benefits of green infrastructure include a reduction of stormwater runoff, surface water discharge,
stormwater pollution and stormwater flows.
(9) While increasing the urban tree canopy is critical to reducing the urban heat island
effect, strategies incorporating other forms of green infrastructure, including green roofs and
walls, hold significant cooling potential; a 2007 study in Bioscience revealed that if the city of
drop by two degrees Fahrenheit (2?F), and because there is more wall space than roof space, green
facades and living walls are ideal supplements.
(10) Existing federal programs and potential federal climate change legislation may
provide significant funding and other resources to help states and localities begin planning and
taking adaptation actions. To receive these funds, state governments may be required to complete
climate change response plans; this chapter seeks to assist the state in beginning the process of
preparing such a plan.
(11) 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
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.
hereby created an independent commission known as "The
Commission" consisting of twenty-eight (28) members as follows: three (3) of whom shall be
members of the senate, to be appointed by the senate president, not more than two (2) from the
same political party; three (3) of whom shall be members of the house of representatives, to be
appointed by the speaker of the house not more than two (2) from the same political party; one
of whom shall be the director of the department of environmental management, or his or her
designee; one of whom shall be the executive director of the coastal resources management
council, or his or her designee; one of whom shall be the director of the department of
transportation, or his or her designee; one of whom shall be the
chair of the
rivers, and watersheds coordination team; one of whom
shall be the director of the
department of health, or his or her designee; one of whom shall be the chief of staff of the water
resources board, or his or her designee; one of whom shall be the director of the division of
planning, or his or her designee; one of whom shall be the state building commissioner, or his or
her designee; one of whom shall be the director of
agency, or his or her designee; two (2) of whom shall represent municipal governments of coastal
municipalities one appointed by the senate president and one appointed by the speaker of the
house; two (2) of whom shall be representatives of environmental non-profit organizations,
appointed by the environment council of
of business, one designated by the greater
higher education institutions, one appointed by the board of governors for higher education and
one appointed by the association of independent colleges
and universities of
whom shall be a representative of a utility distribution company having greater than one hundred
thousand (100,000) customers to be appointed by the senate president; one of whom shall be the
executive director of the
shall be the executive director of the
one of whom shall be the executive director of the American institute of architects of Rhode
Island, or his or her designee; and one of whom shall represent the medical profession, including,
but not limited to, a doctor or nurse, to be appointed by the speaker of the house.
(b) The purposes of the commission shall be to study the projected impacts of climate
impacts in order to reduce likely harm and increase economic and ecosystem sustainability, 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
(c) The commission shall support its purposes by undertaking the following duties
including but not limited to:
(1) Recommending how to mainstream climate change, using a climate “lens”, into
existing state and local programs, policies and standards, and identify potential options to
incorporate adaptation strategies.
(2) Compiling existing studies, research and programs relevant to climate change trends
and potential impacts in
(3) Conducting a
comprehensive overview of the risks
of rising air and water temperatures and sea level, increased storminess, and more intense
droughts and rainfall events.
(4) Investigating the vulnerability of critical roads, bridges, protection infrastructure such
as hurricane barriers, dams, and revetments, and public facilities such as hospitals, schools,
sewage treatment plants, parks and beaches and other critical utilities to sea level rise, increased
flooding and extended extreme summer heat.
(5) Exploring potential changes to floodplains and ways to notify homeowners, renters
and commercial property owners of not only a property’s flooding history but also its expected
risk under projected levels of climate change and sea level rise.
(6) Assessing ecosystem impacts such as salt marshes, forests, and urban tree canopy and
researching tree and plant species that will be most resilient to climate change expected in Rhode
Island, as well as ways to secure additional funding to support the expansion of urban tree canopy
to thirty percent (30%).
(7) Identifying potential ecosystem based adaptation options where conservation or
restoration of natural ecosystems can provide key ecosystems services by minimizing risks and
hazards from flooding and drought cycles.
(8) Identifying ways to increase Rhode Islanders’ access to critical community health
services that are expected to become more important as a result of projected climate impacts.
(9) Investigating potential impacts from non-point source pollution due to hydrological
changes including stormwater runoff
options for the Phase 2
Combined Sewer Overflow project, and implementing small-scale projects such as increasing the
percentage of pervious surfaces in residential areas such as yards and gardens.
(10) Exploring possibilities to make funds or low interest loans available for
governmental entities, non-profit entities and businesses to implement adaptation strategies,
including green infrastructure projects on their properties, including green roofs, walls, and
(11) Investigating possibilities to expand energy efficiency and weatherization programs
as an adaptation option.
(12) Reviewing, among other things, existing local ordinances, provisions adopted by
associations, deed restrictions, covenants, declarations or similar binding agreements, which
prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the installation of solar collectors, clotheslines,
weatherization improvements, gardens or other energy devices based on renewable resources and
proposing alternatives that would eliminate said prohibitions and authorize these types of uses as
climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies for local implementation.
(13) Reviewing possibilities to amend regulations to allow street parking to reduce
impervious surfaces in urban areas and runoff.
(14) Investigating how to support local agriculture including urban community gardens,
and encouraging municipalities to foster neighborhood gardens in empty lots and parks.
(15) Developing a plan to expand access to cooling and relief centers by extending hours
at libraries, community centers and opening pools to the public.
(16) Identifying examples and options for outreach and communication on climate
change and adaptation options and recommending opportunities for coordinated outreach
(d) One senator and one representative appointed to the commission shall serve as co-
chairs and shall call the first meeting of the commission. Vacancies shall be filled in like manner
as the original appointment. The membership of the commission shall receive no compensation
for their services. All departments and agencies of the state shall furnish such advice and
information, documentary and otherwise, to the commission and its agents as is deemed
necessary or desirable by the commission to facilitate the purposes of this chapter. The joint
committee on legislative services is hereby authorized and directed to provide suitable quarters
for the commission.
(e) The commission shall provide a report of its findings and recommendations to the
governor and the general assembly no later than March 1, 2011, and every March 1 thereafter.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.