2012-11-15 / News

DEM director: Passing environmental bonds vital

State Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit recently praised Rhode Island voters for their commitment to investing in clean water, green space and Narragansett Bay restoration by approving the two environmental bond issues on this year’s statewide ballot.

“By overwhelmingly supporting Questions 5 and 6, Rhode Islanders in every city and town across our beautiful state are helping to promote healthier communities and a healthier economy,” said Coit.

The two ballot questions were approved by 70 percent of Rhode Island voters and provide muchneeded funding for clean-water investments, in addition to greenspace preservation and recreation development.

Question 5 will provide $20 million to the state’s Clean Water Finance Agency for wastewater and drinking water system upgrades across the state that will help ensure cleaner beaches and bays, more productive fisheries, and healthier communities. Construction of drinking water infrastructure projects and wastewater treatment plant upgrades will put people to work as well as bring clean water to our homes and preserve our rivers and bays.

Question 6 will provide $20 million to DEM to restore Narragansett

Bay and its watershed, and to provide grants for farmland, local recreation and open space. Over the years, DEM’s grant programs have resulted in the protection of hundreds of worthwhile projects – places used by residents and tourists for outdoor recreation – and contributed to the economic health of the state. Tourism is a $5.2 billion industry, making it the fourth largest economic engine for Rhode Island and a key job generator. It supports more than 41,000 jobs in the state.

According to Coit, Rhode Island’s natural resources continue to be powerful drivers for economic development and tourism. The natural assets play a big role in the state’s tourist economy by providing opportunities for the public to camp, fish, hunt and hike, and at the same time bring revenue to the local economy. Residents and tourists spend over $378 million annually in Rhode Island on trip and equipment-related expenditures for fishing, hunting and wildlife watching activities.

Rhode Island’s farms are important small businesses that contribute to the health of our economy, Coit pointed out. Agriculture provides numerous benefits to the state’s economy, quality of life, open space and access to local foods and horticultural products. In fact, as a recent University of Rhode Island study pointed out, the 2,500 green industry businesses in the state sustain 12,300 jobs and contribute $1.7 billion annually to the state’s economy.

“By voting ‘yes’ for the environmental bonds, Rhode Islanders have given us the green light to continue to preserve and protect our state’s unparalleled natural beauty and water resources for generations to come,” Coit said.

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