Gov. McKee has expressed concern about the key provision of the Act On Climate bill that makes its goals enforceable. Here’s what Rhode Islanders, both famous and regular citizens, have to say about that concern.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha, 3/26/2021:

“There are citizen suit provisions in a lot of the existing environmental laws — Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act. So citizen suit provisions are fairly common. If a case is specious, this office, at that point, would be on the other side of those lawsuits defending the state… I’m not overly concerned about it. I think specious litigation tends to be tossed out of court pretty quickly, that’s always been my experience.

“I think the goals of the legislation are exactly right, which is to get us serious about climate change. This office currently has a climate change case here in Rhode Island against fossil fuel companies. We’ve gotta take this seriously for the benefit of our children and grandchildren. I think it’s great that the legislature acted. I don’t see any real concerns with this legislation, as the state’s lawyer.

Rhode Island Office of the General Treasurer, 4/2/2021:

“Treasurer Magaziner supports the #ActOnClimate bill because we can create thousands of good jobs by transitioning RI to a clean energy economy. It is vital that citizens have a mechanism to hold elected officials accountable, as is common in many other existing environmental protection laws.

House Speaker Joe Shekarchi, 3/24/2021:

“Yes, there is a mechanism to force the state to act if it hasn’t acted. That is correct. But it doesn’t require any money damages. You sue for the state to do their job. And by the way, anybody can sue anybody for anything. Whether you win or not is another story. In 13 years that this bill has been in effect in Massachusetts, there’s only been one lawsuit to make them meet their goals. Against the state, not individuals… no individual can be sued. No business can be sued. That’s a falsehood that was surrounding this bill as well.”

House Majority Leader Blazejewski, on the House floor, 3/23/2021:

“We heard ‘floodgates of litigation.’ Massachusetts has a citizens suit provision just like this…. We shouldn’t have Rhode Island’s citizens have less rights than Massachusetts citizens. There has been no abuse of it, as we can see, because in 13 years in Massachusetts, there’s only been one case.”

Senate President Ruggerio, 4/2/2021:

“Among important points the AG made: ‘I don’t see any real concerns with the legislation, as the state’s lawyer.’ Citizen suit provisions are common in environmental law (i.e.: Clean Air Act & Clean Water Act). ‘Specious litigation tends to be tossed out of court pretty quickly.’ Vesting authority in a regulatory agency is appropriate. We need to get serious about climate change.”

Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, 3/16/2021:

“I am pleased to see all members of the @RISenateDems support this important measure and I know I safely speak for all of us when I say #ActOnClimate is a strong step forward but only a first step forward.”

Public Comments on CARI’s Petition to Governor McKee

Thomas Wojick of Cranston, RI:

“Provisions, regulations are meaningless without enforcement. RI metals is a prime example. It continues to defile our environment after repeated violations.”

Stephanie O’Neill of Cumberland, RI:

“Massachusetts has already done this. Way back in 2008! And they are way ahead of us in job creation in this great new industry. And please don’t run from it because it allows citizens to sue if the state fails to keep its commitment. Ultimately it’s all about keeping us moving forward in what might just turn out to be the most important problem before us on this planet. “

Don Heitzmann of Exeter, RI:

“Don’t dilute this bill! Keep the teeth in it!”

Margaret Bulmer of Middletown, RI:

“To Gov. McKee, Do NOT amend or delay this bill in any way. It has passed in the Senate and the House as it is!”

Marcia Taylor of North Providence, RI:

“Gov. McKee, it is imperative that you demonstrate bold, ethical leadership and sign the Act on Climate as is, without weakening the accountability factors. I am my neighbors, all active voting constituents are watching closely and hoping you do the right thing.”

Drew Carey of Newport, RI:

“Governor McKee, please reconsider your opposition to elements of the this bill, my Senator Dawn Euer and environmental attorney has considered your concerns and addressed them in the language of the bill.”

Catherine Hillery of Newport, RI:

“We do not have time for you to water down this bill. It MUST remain intact and in the same form as it was in when both the House and the Senate passed it. Honesty and sincerity about addressing climate change is required of you at this time. I trust that you will live up to this obligation.”

Rick Sellers of North Kingstown, RI:

“KEEP THE TEETH! Do not deny citizens’ rights to sue for climate protection under the Act On Climate bill.”

Christopher Buecheler of Providence, RI:

“Allowing citizens to hold government to account is a vital part of democracy, and removal of provisions that allow such actions undermines the power of the law as passed by the House and Senate. Please sign “Act on Climate” into law without modification or delay!”

Jo Ann Safdie of Providence, RI:

“Don’t take the enforcement out of this bill, or you might as well not pass it.”

Deborah Krous of Warren, RI:

“Governor McGee, I am asking you to pass this bill with the citizens ability to make you enforce it! We’ve had more than enough of the Koch brothers and other dark money/special interests! Climate change is killing plant life, animal life, and human life! Will you allow it to kill the very planet? Sign the bill intact!”