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Green Economy Bond: An Urban/ Rural Investment

Rhode Island voters will decide on a Green Economy Bond referendum in November. If passed, it will provide $35 million to protect land and waters that enhance quality of life. Leaders from a broad coalition of environmental, tourism, recreation, and bicycle organizations have voiced support for the Green Economy Bond passage.

Here are the Green Economy Bond programs:

  1. Historic State Park Development Program: $4,000,000provides healthy outdoor recreation opportunities for all Rhode Islanders and supports the tourism industry.
  2. State Land Acquisition Program: $4,000,000– protects remaining farmland, iconic open space properties, and in-holdings that fill in gaps in state parks and wildlife management areas.
  3. Local Recreation Development Program: $5,000,000— helps communities create and develop parks, acknowledging the importance of local recreation in every municipality.
  4. Local Open Space Grant Program: $4,000,000— provides critical seed funding that enables communities to protect their special places, contributing to Rhode Island’s urban/rural balance.
  5. State Bikeway Development Program: $10,000,000 — completes the existing popular, but disconnected network of bike paths that link workplaces and green spaces.
  6. Brownfield Remediation and Economic Development: $5,000,000 — redevelops and reuses polluted industrial sites.
  7. Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program: $3,000,000 — improves water quality and outdoor recreation.green economy

What Organizations Support Rhode Island’s Green Economy Bond?

More than 25 Rhode Island nonprofits and coalitions have signed on in support of the Green Economy Bond. They include the Aquidneck Land Trust, Bike Newport, the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, the Coggeshall Farm Museum, the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition, and The Nature Conservancy.

In fact, in a recent press release, Northwest RI Supporters of Open Spaces (NRISOS) said it supports the Green Economy Bond measure as a result of its land programs. A total of $8 million of the bond is directed to land conservation: half for for the Local Open Space Grants Program and half for RI Department of Environmental Management’s land protection program.

During the past 30 years, Local Open Space Grants have enabled land trusts and municipalities to protect over 160 properties encompassing 10,000 acres of special places in RI communities. The Green Economy Bond provides that each $1 spent by the state is matched by $2-3 in additional investments from local governments, federal programs, foundations, and private contributions.

Indeed, land conservation is one of the few uses of state bond funding that actually increases in value over time. Environmental bonds have an unparalleled level of success when put before Rhode Island voters. No bond since the initial one put on the ballot in 1985 has failed to pass, with recent bonds averaging more than a 70 percent approval rate statewide.

If you’d like more information about the Green Economy Bond, click through to this fact sheet.

Conversations about a Green World and Financial Measures

Interestingly, in many public relations statements, Rhode Island’s Green Economy Bond is necessarily bundled with language that calls to strengthen Rhode Island’s economy in a sustainable and equitable way. For example, GrowSmartRI has stated, “World-class parks and protected open space are the foundation for over 40,000 jobs in the state’s tourism and outdoor recreation industries.  These industries annually generate more than $3.32 billion for the state’s economy.”

It’s good news that a greenscape boosts a region’s financial stability. However, a green world should also be sought after for its own highly important merits. It’s a necessary habitat for continued human life. It fosters a sense of oneness with the natural world. And it helps humans to recognize we’re only one existence in a complex spectrum of life on earth.

What Other States are Enacting Green Legislation?

The National Conference of State Legislators tracks energy and environment legislation. This can bring you up to date, real-time information on bills that have been introduced in the fifty states and the District of Columbia. The Energy and Environment Legislation Tracking Database is updated and summarized bi-weekly.

Photo Credit: Carolyn Fortuna (Bristol, RI)— All Rights Reserved