Rai­mondo or­ders plan to con­front cli­mate change

Pawtucket Times - - OBITUARIES/REGION -

PROV­I­DENCE (AP) — Gov. Gina Rai­mondo has or­dered the de­vel­op­ment of a statewide plan to bet­ter deal with the ef­fects of cli­mate change.

The Demo­cratic gov­er­nor said Fri­day that Rhode Is­land's 400 miles of coast­line makes the "Ocean State" uniquely vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate change and its con­se­quences, such as the rise in sea lev­els and se­vere weather. Hur­ri­canes Har­vey and Irma are the lat­est re­minders that a state ac­tion plan amid the global prob­lem is ur­gently needed, she said.

"The re­al­ity is, we can do some­thing," the gov­er­nor said. "The chal­lenge is, to take that spirit of ur­gency to this chal­lenge of cli­mate change. And that's what to­day is all about, to think proac­tively about what steps we can take to build our re­siliency so we're in a bet­ter po­si­tion when the next storm comes."

Rai­mondo signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der, nam­ing Shaun O'Rourke as Rhode Is­land's first "chief re­siliency of­fi­cer."

O'Rourke is cur­rently di­rec­tor of stormwa­ter and re­siliency at the Rhode Is­land In­fra­struc­ture Bank, a quasi-gov­ern­ment agency. Un­der Rai­mondo's di­rec­tive, he takes on added du­ties, work­ing with lo­cal lead­ers, busi­nesses, non­prof­its and oth­ers to de­velop a plan by July 1 to make the state more re­silient amid cli­mate change.

The state's con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion also at­tended the sign­ing at the State­house.

Demo­cratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said that with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion "walk­ing away" from cli­mate change is­sues, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments, busi­nesses and cit­i­zens have to step up. The Repub­li­can pres­i­dent has called cli­mate change a hoax and an­nounced he will with­draw the U.S. from the Paris cli­mate ac­cords. "We used to re­mem­ber when a 100-year storm was a 100year storm. Now it's a two-year storm," Reed said. "We know it's com­ing and we have to wisely pre­pare for it. And that's why the gov­er­nor's ef­forts to­day are so crit­i­cal."

Demo­cratic U.S. Sen. Shel­don White­house, the Se­nate's loud­est and most per­sis­tent voice on the dan­gers of cli­mate change, listed places in Rhode Is­land that would dra­mat­i­cally change if sea lev­els rise as pre­dicted and ac­tion isn't taken. The west­ern part of New­port, for ex­am­ple, would be­come an is­land and Prov­i­dence would likely need a wall to pro­tect it from the seas, White­house said.

A se­ries of round-ta­ble dis­cus­sions are planned to guide the state's strat­egy.

Rai­mondo

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