By Nancy Lavin, Rhode Island Current
After recent backlash to the expansion of an Allens Avenue scrap yard, Rhode Island senators are backing a measure to give low-income and minority communities more say over projects that pollute their neighborhoods.
The legislation passed by the Rhode Island Senate in a 31-4 vote Thursday, May 4, allows the state to designate “environmental justice areas” based on income, minority population, and/or percentage of households that lack “English language proficiency.” As written, the bill would give more scrutiny and community input in permitting for projects that contribute to pollution: sewage treatment plants, landfills, incinerators and recycling centers, among others. The legislation also allows state agencies that oversee these permit applications (the Department of Environmental Management and Coastal Resources Management Council) to consider the pollution not just from individual projects, but cumulatively for the neighborhood.
Posted May 8, 2023