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Ready for some good news? The 2022 Rhode Island General Assembly wrapped up last week, and we are happy to report that several of Clean Water Action’s priority bills crossed the finish line! This is the direct result of the tireless efforts of our members and coalition partners. Thank you to everyone who wrote letters and emails, sent tweets, made phone calls, and showed up at the State House to fight with us.

First, two of our high priority bills to tackle toxic PFAS chemicals passed in the final days of the session. H7438/S2044 bans the use of PFAS in food packaging, and S2298/H7233 sets statewide limits on PFAS in drinking water for the first time. The signing of both bills will begin to protect Rhode Islanders from these toxic substances and ensures that we don’t become a dumping ground for PFAS-laden food packaging that other states have banned. These are great first steps as we push for a more comprehensive PFAS ban next year!

We also had two victories on the plastic waste front! After years of hard work, the statewide ban on single-use plastic bags finally passed the General Assembly. This has been a long time priority of Clean Water Action because our state needs to get serious about reducing our consumption and disposal of plastics. We also worked with virtually every environmental group in the state to successfully oppose the “advanced recycling” bill, a scam to allow plastics-burning facilities to be fast tracked in our state without proper oversight. The solution to plastic waste is to create less of it which is why we will be fighting for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation and a bottle deposit program next year.

This session also saw Rhode Island take the lead on clean energy with the passage of our state’s ambitious commitment to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2033. Clean Water Action is part of the newly formed “Climate Jobs Rhode Island” coalition - a partnership between environmental and labor organizations - that worked together to get this done. We now have the strongest renewable energy commitment in the nation.

Finally, we are proud to be a part of the “Let RI Vote” coalition which worked together to get the “Let RI Vote Act” over the finish line. This bill expands access to voting by mail to ensure that everyone can cast a ballot while still keeping strong election protections in place. When people vote, the environment wins! 

People power makes positive change. There is always more work to do, but it’s important to take a moment and celebrate what we all accomplished together. Thank you Clean Water Action members!