General Assembly passes bill creating Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience Fund


STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln) and Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) to establish the Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience Fund.

The fund established by the legislation (2021-S 0035Aaa, 2021-H 5967A) would enable cities, towns and the state to apply for grants to fund projects that restore and improve the climate resilience of vulnerable coastal habitats, as well as river and stream floodplains with priority to projects that improve community resilience and public safety.

“We tend to think of infrastructure in terms of roads and bridges. But the next generation of infrastructure that we’re going to have to invest in are the places where our shorelines are at risk due to the effects of climate change,” said Senator Pearson. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects that in the next 15 years or so sea levels will rise an additional foot, two feet by 2050, and nine feet by 2100. This clearly demonstrates that all of our coastline across the state of Rhode Island is going to be in jeopardy, as well as the public infrastructure that surrounds those areas.”

The bill would begin the process of setting up a fund for the purpose of planning, design, engineering, construction and monitoring of adaptation and resilience projects. It would also establish a technical advisory committee, which would serve as an advisory board to the Department of Environmental Management and Coastal Resources Management Council.

“It’s estimated that this fund would generate about $1.9 million a year to fund these adaptation projects throughout the state with no impact to the budget,” said Representative Vella-Wilkinson. “This funding source would provide money directly to cities, towns and state agencies to adapt infrastructure on public lands to deal with the impacts of climate change and increase our resiliency to rising sea levels.”

The measure now moves to the governor’s office.



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